Volume 93, Issue 59

Friday, January 14, 2000


Bus pass to face new referendum

Enrollment stats to see increase

McMasters TAs reach settlement

New Year's prison party raises concern

Small amounts of praise for small towns

Hospitals stuffed up with vaccinations

Bass Ackwards

Small amounts of praise for small towns

By Clayton Dion
Gazette Columnist

Welcome to paradise.

How many of you spent your break driving or flying all over the country to visit family and friends for the holidays? While I'm sure many readers are from the Toronto area and returned to their nice way of life back home, others of us are, regrettably, from small little towns dotted throughout the Ontario countryside.

Although many of you likely think the country is an idyllic escape from the hectic city way of life – it's is not the paradise you believe it to be.

I lived in Barrie for many years before moving to a very small town ("Population: Growing – and not very fast"). My wily ways, learned in such a metropolis as Barrie, branded me a "city-slicker" in this new town – a fact I tried to downplay by saying things like "book learnin'? I don't need no stinkin' book learnin'."

I spent Christmas in a different but equally small town about three hours northeast of London. For those of you from Toronto, London or any other city where the sight of more than one stop light is not met with awe and wonder, allow me to explain a little something about the small town way of life.

The town's population is 1,300 people – down from its peak of 1,400 approximately 10 years ago – although debate still rages over the exact count, as the last census was conducted by Ol' Jeb and everyone knows how he "likes the drink." With this enormous population, my Christmas home is not actually a town, it's technically a "village" which aspires to "town" status.

Every now and then, you hear of those who have left the village. They often go to, "The Big Smoke," "The City," "Hogtown," or "Tronna" – they're all Toronto for those of you not blessed with such a colourful cultural background.

"Ya' know they got places down there where ya' pay for oxygen. That's like payin' for air! Can ya' believe it? No sir, I like it here where the air is free! I kid you not, they pay for air."

The village has just two main roads, appropriately labelled Main Street and Toronto Street (Toronto Street because it's a highway that goes to Toronto – clever huh?). About 25 years ago the streets got their names by edging out competition from such other pairs as "Road To The Bar" and "Road That Don't Go Past The Bar," "Main Street," "Second Most Main Street" and finally, "One That Goes This Way" and "One That Goes The Other Way." After ol' man Franklin was elected, he decided to implement the street names. Supposedly, the idea came to him after he was out on a bender one weekend.

Now, not everything is all bad in the village. It's nice that you know everyone you meet, but, unfortunately, everyone you meet knows you too. Not just your name, they know everything about you.

When I had cousins visiting from England, a couple of days after they arrived, they decided the village was a little paradise and they wanted to see more. People they had never met knew their names. Frankly, they were frightened.

I had to explain later it was just old Martha McCallum and "Don't ya' know she likes to gossip? Don't know why though, she's got enough to worry about what with that daughter of hers. Ya' know she was out on a bender the other weekend and..."

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