First off, sorry not sorry for the earworm that came with reading that title, and really sorry not sorry if the earworm was created by reading this sentence and clueing into what I meant :D. This post is about the favourite places and spaces I’ve come across in the various places I’ve lived/worked over the last few years.
This morning, I tried to work on a piece about asexuality- what it is, it’s history, it’s history in Canada, the discrimination we’ve/I’ve faced as a community & individuals, etc. But, it just wasn’t flowing today. Sometimes, it’s ok to start a project that’s heavy, but necessary, in favour of something light and fun that flows from your brain to your fingertips to the keyboard as easily as…as…aw crap. Maybe this won’t be as easy as I wanted it to be.
Recently, I had to update my security clearance, and that requires putting down all of your addresses for the last 5 years. Some people have one or two, I had to put down FIVE! It’s basically the equivalent of moving once a year. 1 for the initial move to Simcoe County from the Quinte Region and the other 4 all within a 20KM radius. No, I’m not an expert mover nor do I like to move, I’ve just had to move a lot due to circumstances mostly outside my control.
HOWEVER, that’s meant that I’ve lived in a lot of different areas of that 20KM radius and had a lot of experiences that you can only get from living there.
Alright, get on with it Rachael!!!
Here are my personal favourite things from the towns I’ve lived in/near over the years, with this first edition being all about the Quinte Region. This list is definitely not mutually exclusive because I could go on for a very long time (which I already did so…), nor is it in order of likeability. You’d get bored, I’d get bored. You’re welcome.
PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY.
- I learned to drive in the parking lot in 2006/07 and hit the dumpster while practicing backing up. Oops. The little stream by it is where my brother had to dump his piranhas (I think they were piranhas, I was 10). Reason why long forgotten. Their meals are pretty good when I had them.
- I went to school at Kente, so we went to the Museum a bunch, plus to the Hubbs Sugar Shack. I was also on the Museum Advisory Committee for Prince Edward County. I grew up playing baseball at Roblin Lake & bathing at least one of the dogs there, but I refused to go in myself because of the leeches (plus I was a wuss).
- It’s almost all of Prince Edward County history represented in birdhouses. Freaking cool. Spent a lot of time there looking at them.
- Ice cream, cheese curds, enough said.
- The smell of the bookstore is intoxicating, same with the creak of the old floors. Upstairs is where a few friends of mine and I hosted the Future Forum in 2015 to generate youth interest in becoming more engaged and to get youth & adults in the same room.
- Not the park per se, but the pancake breakfast that they had every year. I want to say it was around Maple in the County, but I can’t remember.
- I honestly just enjoy the views of the Murray Canal and Weller’s Bay when driving home to visit. Not so much since all the housing development has started to block those gorgeous views.
- More for the memories than anything, as that meant a weekend drive and the spectacular views of that end of the County, particularly the “tree tunnel” heading into Waupoos.
- Just serenity, walking into the CIBC when it still existed there, going into Green Gables to chat to Diana Cooper (who’s son was one of my former Cadets), walking to the library, looking in County Treasures and More, exploring County Traders, almost buying Cannery Row PEC. Plus the Bloomfield Nighttime Santa Claus Parade.
- Both views are spectacular and it also makes you feel like a bit of a bad ass if you take it during a rough crossing.
- Those wedge fries are to.die.for., so is pretty much all of their food. I like the quirky scale that they hopefully still have there.
- I’ve only been there once, but I remember that everyone was super nice & friendly when I was there and they made an incredible cup of coffee.
- One of the only places I will ever ever eat liver and onions from. I’m salivating.
- A coffee shop in a bookstore that’s not Starbucks in an Indigo/Chapters. Amazing and a bookworm’s dream business. I’ve spent many an hour sipping cappuccinos, noshing on a bagel or diving into a brie & apple croissant there while either reading, working on this blog, or meeting with other like-minded people about the state of things in Prince Edward County.
- It’s where 851 Prince Edward Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron is based and where I learned to be a CIC Officer. I have a lot of memories of training days with them, either at the firepit (and accidentally putting a pine branch in that firepit), watching them teach lessons by the cement wall & in the pavilion, almost sliding down Macauley Mountain with them, and getting 11PM burgers from the Acoustic Grill while on training exercises.
- Also known as Canadian Forces Detachment Mountain View. It’s where I discovered the Cadet program and where I got to see my beloved Prince Edward County from the skies in a glider.
- Amazing fish & chips and retro design. I don’t actually recall ever eating pizza from there, but I remember feeling welcome.
- I remember being terrified of this lookout because I thought that either the railing would give way and I’d tumble down the hill or that a wild animal would leap out and grab me. Now, I return there to laugh at how young I was then.
- Mum and I would look there for clothes or just somewhere to wander to while doing laundry across the road. I bought quite a few pieces of clothing and books there.
Shire Hall (A.K.A. the Prince Edward County Town Hall).
- Council Chambers (never at the horseshoe despite the attempt, but the viewing area), the conference room where the Museum Advisory Council met, the Mayor’s Office, it all strangely felt like home to me and where I belonged.
- So much time spent sipping coffee there and devouring a book. I loved it.
The Consecon Bridge/Dam.
- A place to just stand for a moment while the roar of the dam and water rush over you. I remember one day my brother’s hat went flying and we tried to find it, but the current overcame it. We joked that it was on it’s way to Niagara Falls. I still think of that hat, thought I can’t remember what it said on it.
- The views and that cider. That cider is amazing and only the original apple cider in a glass bottle will do. It’s not a trip home without picking up some.
- The Old Duke Dome (a.k.a. the Wellington Arena): The Wellington Firefighter’s Yard Sale. The only other yard sale I looked forward to yearly other than the Wellington-on-the-Lake sale because those were traditions with my Dad.
- The New Duke Dome (a.k.a. the Lehigh Arena): the walking track made for a good place to get some exercise in a county that doesn’t have a whole lot of sidewalks or properly maintained sidewalks in it.
- Where I was taken after passing out on King Street in front of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. I had hit my head and suffered a concussion. All thanks to being dehydrated from taking laxatives as part of my bulimia. I wish I knew the name of the nurse who helped me on the sidewalk. I still remember coming too with my Mum by my side in the ER.
- I feel at home whenever I’m in them, and I used to work for them. I loved that job and would go back in a heartbeat if there was something I was qualified for open.
- One of my first full-time jobs that was also along my eventual career path as an administrator. I learned a lot about what it takes to hack it when working with the public and my own leadership skills outside the CAF.
- Walking those dunes and out to the lighthouse was an awesome day, same with just watching the boats come into the wharf. I spent many an hour there with a book and/or fries or coffee. Sunsets there are spectacular.
- The Poppy Drives that I supervised out of there were awesome, they took good care of us with food and coffee. I also made one of my first public speeches at the meeting of the Rotary Club of Wellington’s Breakfast meeting. I spoke about Camp Enterprise, which was an initiative I was getting off the ground for high school students to learn about what it takes to operate a business. Apparently some of the Rotarians still remember me.
250 Sidney Street.
- It’s where I learned about entrepreneurship and developed the plans for Youth Beyond Enterprises (now The Philanthropic BookAce), learned about key value propositions, and genuinely started planning my life to head down the path of civic engagement and service. I also remember being so broke when I was starting out that I had to use the interest generated in my TFSA if I wanted to treat myself to fries or coffee. It’s also the place I had a quiet space to sit and think when my Dad was first diagnosed with cancer.
- Their personal sized Chicken Caesar pizza was amazing and fit the bill perfectly when I was hungry after working at Wilkinson & Co during the 2015 Tax Season. It was a nice walk and way to get out of the office.
- It’s where I sat with my parents during the times that I could make it to my Dad’s chemotherapy treatments. The nurses and doctor’s there were/are amazing people.
- The Christmas Light Display is a quintessential part of my Christmas tradition, even back when it was at Alemite Park (corner of Pine Street and MacDonald Avenue). I always trek out to Meyers Pier to look at the PEC and Belleville shorelines and get a chill thinking about how I was looking at mainland Ontario from on the Bay of Quinte.
- I didn’t know the name of this bridge until after the news story about the Catherine Street bridge being out of service came out. To me, it was the path I took to College Street from Nicholson when I had to meet Mum at her work. When I was older, I’d stop in the middle to experience the power of the Mighty Moira River, especially on windy days.
- Where I “grew up”, met a tonne of people and learned a lot about myself and the community. I could literally write an entire edition of this on my favourite parts and experiences at Loyalist College.
- I saw this place being built when I shadowed Neil Ellis when he was the Mayor of the City of Belleville, it was so cool to see it go from a plan to construction, to walking the walking track and walking the halls.
- Another place where I “grew up”, as I joined 608 “Duke of Edinburgh” Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, first as a Cadet and then 7 years later re-joining them as a CIC Officer in the CAF. I learned about leadership, drill, discipline, band, how to teach, how to be a good person, and what not to do when Officers, including your mother, were looking. I learned how to respect people for who they are and what they bring to the table, and work with all kinds of personalities.
- One of my safe spaces to relax and either look outside, read a book, browse the shelves, do school work or hit the internet. We didn’t have internet at home, so this was where I needed to go to get any schoolwork done on weekends or after school if Mom or Dad were working in town then. Plus, my first boyfriend and I would meet there for our dates due to not having any money. I’m actually pretty sure I’ve had dates with all of my boyfriends there at one point.
- I love the Empire Theatre and have seen some incredible acts there, and movies too. I have been there to see Paul Brandt, Deric Ruttan, Doc Walker, Aaron Pritchett and Emerson Drive (twice, once was front-row), and I experienced “It’s a Wonderful Life” there for the first time. I also had my high school graduation ceremony there, so there’s that too.
The Modern Cafe.
- Where Mum and I would get dinner before heading to the ANAF for band practice, then to get Chinese food after Dad’s chemotherapy when he was on his “chemo high”. Unfortunately now closed.
- I’ve just always thought it was a cool place to visit. Growing up on CJBQ and Mix 97, it was the epitome of coolness to visit the studios. I was on air a few times, either for the Health Unit youth program VIBE or the Lorne Brooker Show the day I shadowed Mayor Ellis. I felt like royalty each time.
Walking around the Downtown Belleville when it’s all lit up.
- One of my favourite things to do is to start at City Hall at sunset/dusk and stroll Front Street all the way to Pinnacle Street to experience the winter lights, then reverse directions. Is it the particularly wisest decision I make, walking alone on Front Street at night? Probably not, but I’ve only ever felt unsafe once, and that was actually when my Mum and I were out walking and ran into two men in confrontation with police.
Yes, I know, these memories and recommendations are very specific to someone who has visited and lived in these places for most of her life. I cherish every single memory and hope you enjoyed following along with my walk through part of my home region.
What are your memories of any of the above?