Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What if your home town ceased to exist?

This past weekend was a long weekend due to the McGuinty sanctioned-holiday Family Day. Though I don't usually care for much of what the Liberal Party pushes out (Yes, this is a backhanded poo-reference and yes, I went there), I think this holiday is out of sight! And not just because I get to sleep-in an extra day or ski on a weekday. At our place, we use the weekend as a way to connect with our kids in the way we remember our parents used to do with us. For my husband, this translates into getting everybody outdoors to do something physical. For me, it means getting everybody into a Dim Sum restaurant to gorge on chinese food and then heading immediately to a movie theatre where we listen to our digesting stomachs compete with the movie's soundtrack . Good times.

It's also a time where I reflect on where I grew up. After a trip up the French River a few summers ago with the kids, I let slip that I grew up only an hour and a half away from where we had just spent three days paddling. Like stunned American tourists, they asked whether I, too, had "paddled to school". Not. Quite. But it did lead to an impromptu Google Maps search for Levack, an explanation of what a "pit party" was and a promise to to see the Big Nickel in a summer or two. Again, good times.

Even though I spent most of my teenage years praying to get the fook out of the small town I grew up in, it's really only now, as I grow older, that I feel blessed to have been raised where I was. Tom Wolfe said that you can't go home again but he got it aaaall wrong. I have gone back home waiting for a light to change in New York City; watching a pine tree sway in the wind in the middle of a forest in Germany; laying on a secluded Caribbean beach. And always I think: where I am from is as good as this. It's a feeling that can bring you pleasure at the oddest of times.

The National Film board of Canada has put together this mesmerizing -sometimes heartbreaking- yet celebratory memorial to a mining town in the North West Territories that was once a vibrant community and now no longer exists:

Most industry towns, after losing their purpose, attempt resurrections, reinventions, or just slowly wither away.

In Pine Point, they decided to erase the town from the face of the earth.

I felt somewhat changed after watching this film and learning about Pine Point ( It made me think about how much the place you come from is as much a part of you as the people you guide through it. And, damn it, if that's not something worthy of celebration.


  1. thanks for posting that Laura - excellent site!

  2. My pleasure. Wasn't it beautifully done?