We moved from the metropolis of Niagara Falls to a small northern town, whose economy sources were logging, mining, and the railway. We only knew one couple, a couple I didn’t know very well.
We bought a log house outside of the town on ten acres, 2.5 hours from North Bay on Hwy 11. It was only a little over a six hour drive, but for many reasons, it was a whole other world.
We had three children at the time. Our oldest was eleven, our second was two and a half, and our youngest was nine months old. We were excited about the adventure!!
In those days, (gee, that makes me feel O-L-D) you dialed the last four digits of a phone number to call locally, we were on a party line with three other families (our ring was one long and one short) and everywhere outside of our Englehart 544 exchange was long distance. There were no phone plans at the time with free Canada-wide calling. I think it was cheaper between 8 pm and 7 am, and maybe on weekends, but otherwise it was long distance, and not cheap.
All of our close friends and family were left behind….some in the Ottawa area and some in Niagara…..no one nearby. I was young, I was a mom with littles, and I was lonely, evidenced by the atrocious phone bills.
Only going six hours and still in Ontario, I hadn’t anticipated the culture shock awaiting me. Life was different up there and people were distant. I think they were so used to having people like us move there for a Northern experience, but very few stayed. So they held you at arms-length, unwilling to invest until they were sure you were going to stay, which often took about ten years.
Winters were long and cold. Our first winter there, it snowed September 20 and the snow never left til Spring, which didn’t arrive until almost June. Food prices were high, gas prices were higher, and well, you already know about the phone situation.
But little by little, we began to make our way.
About a year or two in, we connected with another family through church. Their family was young, we had our faith in common, and they too had lost a baby boy who was stillborn, as was ours.
Mike and Glenn talked hunting and fishing…..and being a farmer, Mike tried to teach us to raise chickens. That’s a whole other story!!!!
Janet and I birthed and raised our babies, gardened, canned, cooked, sewed, made quilts, took on homeschooling, and took shopping trips to North Bay,
On one of those infamous trips, we went out for dinner and made the impromptu decision to attend an event at North Bay Arts Centre. It was perfect timing!!! Buddy Wassisname and the Other Fellers were performing and to this day, I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard!!! My stomach literally ached, tears rolled down my face, and I came perilously close to wetting myself!!!!! It was a night I will never forget!!! It must have been the stress we were under, and the release we both needed, because although I’ve seen and heard this act since, it has never made the impact that it did that night.
We spent 15 years up there. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been away for just as many years, having moved back near my hometown.
Over the years, our girls have maintained their friendships and we have attended weddings and showers. This past weekend, I travelled the same familiar roads for a baby shower to celebrate the impending birth of one of Mike and Janet’s newest grand babies, and to visit our children that still live in that area.
It was so soul-nourishing to reminisce together, sharing our incredibly precious memories and to laugh together once more.
In days past, we have shared our hopes and dreams, joys and sorrows. We’ve walked on life’s mountain tops and through the valleys. This weekend we were able to sit together and watch children and grandchildren (the feature picture for this post is Janet being read to by her granddaughter, Elizabeth) and be reminded of the faithfulness of God, even though things didn’t always turned out as we’d hoped.
Life takes us many different places. People come and go, seasons change, we grow and evolve,, and time and distance have been the hill that many friendships die on. But then there are those go on in spite of the obstacles and challenges that life imposes.
These friendships are gold, a precious gift, and to be treasured forever.