Living in the Great White North

Living in the “Great White North” has some challenges that are inherently very different than city life. Take, for instance, the winter season. In the city, it’s more mild that here. Less snow means you can get away with cheaper all season tires on your vehicle. Gods forbid you ever think of trying that here up North… We learned that lesson quite quickly in the first week of December while trying to get up one of the many hills here in town near the hospital. Winter tires are expensive but necessary. It’s about 700 dollars to equip our van with winter tires. That price doesn’t count the studs in the winter tires either, that’s another 100 dollars for all four tires studded.

It snows almost every day, varying in degree from wet, heavy snow that makes for great snow balls and snowmen to the dry fluffy snow you’d find on a ski hill. Did you know Elliot Lake has a ski hill? It’s no Mount Blanc but it’s still pretty impressive for such a small town.

Then there’s the weather related interuptions of services. The town is in disrepair, when the miners left the maintenance left with it. Bell Canada has a hard time maintaining services in a steady flow and Persona\EastLink has an even harder time. The only ones who seem to have it going is the Hydro company but they’ve been kicking it around here for much longer than the other two companies. The snow and freezing temperatures tend to play honky with the services at times – causing some pretty interesting disruptions. Then again, the saying in Elliot Lake is “Only in Elliot Lake”. Especially when the town turns itself off for a whole day in the middle of October, not a peep of electricity flowing through at all anywhere to install smart meters and do line maintenance. Now in the city, most electricians working for the man are trained to work on live wire – not here. They don’t do live wire work here… On top of the the whole town is on one grid, meaning you want to shut down the electricity for the new sub – you have to shut the whole town down.

Yeah, starting to hate that saying “Only in Elliot Lake” at times. Then I think about all the good parts, the bush camping, the ski hill, the fishing, the hunting, the outdoor activities. It’s safer here than the city (oh don’t get me wrong, we have our crime here too), the animals, the communing with nature, nature literally being out my front door and at my front step. I think the smaller inconveniences are worth the bigger pros here in Elliot Lake. People are more laid back, easier going and more willing to help out as a community rather than step on you for the old top rung of the ladder. Social services are easier to access and there are no line ups at the bank (I’m still getting over that shocking one even almost a year later). Rent is cheap, the people are friendly and yes there are jobs to be had here, plenty of them if you know how and where to look.

No, as according to a family member who tried to convince us to slowly die in the city financially, the hydro bills are not 600 dollars a month, mine is about 70 bucks a month, even now. Yes, sometimes the groceries are a tad more expensive but not by dollars only by cents. Oh yeah, sure it’s a pain finding some stuff that you want or need to buy but I’ve always been comfortable with online shopping and the local Foodland does deliveries on those days where I can’t get out for a mere 7 bucks (about 2 bucks more than taking a taxi home from the mall but with all the convenience of not having to go out of your home in a blizzard).

While many who have grown up here in the late 60s and 70s have a very down trodden out look on a town that used to boom with uranium mining and think that everyone are either idiots are as cold hearted as the winter winds that blow through here I have never been treated with any disrespect by any of the town’s folk here. I’ve always had a smile and a wave thrown my way, a sweet soft hello, how are ya spoken as I pass by. It never ceases to amaze me how folk are so friendly here and don’t cross the street to avoid you coming the other way.

I like it here, it’s my home and hearth, where my heart lays and a great place to raise kids quietly and comfortably without fighting the next guy or gal on the ladder rung next to you in the proverbial rat race to the corporate finishing line. Elliot Lake is the proverbial “slow and steady wins the race” tortoise on the map of Northern Ontario. Yeah, the wheels turn slow here at times but they do turn.

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