Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff


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EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR BUSINESS…at least they think they do.

One of the idiosyncrasies of small town Ontario that I’ve yet to get use to is the one the lets you think you can live anonymously in your community. If you come from away, you immediately forfeit your privacy. Any unfamiliar face on the street suffers intense scrutiny. Your identity must be made known. The townies will not rest until your past and your present is revealed or, at best, subject to some subtle investigation.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Most new-kids-in-town expect some scrutiny. They’ve taken up a new life, in a new place by choice. Making new friends is part and parcel of fitting in. The prying of new neighbours is, at first blush, kind of fun. Who doesn’t like to talk about themselves?

What is kind of unnerving though, is when they look at you and say,

“Oh, you’re the ones who bought the old such & such place,” and then fall silent, and look at you sideways, watching you try to figure what they really mean.

Case in point. Not long ago my son bought 42 acres of untouched meadow next to a site protected by the Grey/Bruce Conservation Authority. It was an old farm, long abandoned close to Big Bay. It had a sawmill, at one time. The original house, barn and out buildings were removed after the Niagara Escarpment people ordered an Environmental Assessment. (It passed.)

Eventually he will build his family a home there. But right now it sports, a fire pit, a woodshed and a trailer – nothing else. It is his escape from the city.


The other weekend we enjoyed a picnic and some bird watching there. Afterwards we drove to Keppel Croft Gardens to wander their nature trail. My daughter-in-law was chatting with Dawn the owner. She mentioned that they were up visiting their property. Dawn innocently asked where it was. When told, she immediately responded, “Oh, you’re the ones who bought that old farm…lots of mosquitoes on that property. And you’ve put a caravan there. How long will you be living in it?”

My daughter-in-law destroyed their assumption that they were living in the trailer.  But she did plant the idea that an architecturally different home would soon be built on the land…just to give them something else to talk about.

Now Dawn will be telling everyone that a lovely young couple have taken the old storied farm that stood vacant for so long, under their wing.

Word sure gets around, doesn’t it? Well, at least now, they have a clearer picture. The owners of the old farm are no longer anonymous.


One Response

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  1. When I was little we lived in a small town in N.C. and a kid moved there from Pulaski, West Virginia. We thought it must be somewhere very exotic. He might as well as dropped in from Tahiti.

    He was popular right away ’cause we saw it as he from somewhere really cool instead of just a ‘regular town.’

    Dr. B


    June 10, 2009 at 9:57 AM

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