My twenty year high school reunion is coming up. As I reconnect with old friends, and plan our get-together, I find myself increasingly nostalgic about the eighteen wonderful years I spent in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. The photo above depicts the NB landscape at its best – a lighthouse, the ocean, rambling old homes in the countryside. The stuff that dreams are made of.
There are countless reasons why I loved growing up there. Here are but a few that come to mind:
1. Knowing everyone. When I was 19, I had a car accident at the intersection near my house. My car was totalled, and I was thoroughly freaked out. Immediately, friends were at my side. Both my parents had been informed. Someone dealt with my car, and someone else drove me to the hospital. Within minutes, I was taken care of – part of a community that cared for me and my family immensely.
2. Afghan blankets, casseroles and home-baked goodies. At Christmas, Thanksgiving and often for no reason at all, friends and neighbours showed their love with homemade muffins, lovingly hand-crocheted blankets, freshly caught fish – you name it. When my mom made her special beef curry with rice, it was immediately distributed to her friends who favoured it. That was just the way. I loved that sound of the doorbell, cheerful greetings and delicious smells from another kitchen.
3. Not being scared. I was a Brownie and Girl Guide for many years. Part of the gig was selling cookies every year, and for that we had to go door to door in the neighbourhood. I distinctly remember walking around in the twilight hours, taking cookie orders from friends and strangers. I wasn’t scared. No need to be. I was safe. I don’t have that feeling here in Toronto, and I don’t think I could ever let my kids do the same thing without my supervision.
4. Simplicity of life. There weren’t that many places to go. A few little restaurants – mostly mom ‘n pop joints, a movie theatre on the U.S. side of the border, and that was it. But I don’t remember ever feeling bored. I loved being at home, with my family. My mom would make great dinners, we’d watch movies, spend time together. Life was uncomplicated – focused on the important things like school and family.
5. Maritime culture and landscape. Minutes from the ocean, a river, staggeringly beautiful coastline and countryside. I took it for granted. But now, living in Toronto, I miss that proximity to nature, and the ability to drive for five minutes and be in a pastoral setting. Non-stop urban chaos gets to me sometime and I miss the peacefulness and beauty of the Maritimes.
Miss Val says
Love the article! We just moved back east from Alberta and New Brunswick fits the bill all around. I left my very best friend in Calgary, but I can send my elementary school aged kids to free town sponsored events (gone is the user pay system), to the corner store and to school on their own. Gone is the rush rush rush and we have met more of our neighbours in the first month here than we met in the 8 years spent out west. It may not be the lifestyle for everyone, but I figure I only get one kick at the can and I want to kick it the rest of the way here in NB!
I luv that post & my recent visits to Halifax make me really want to consider moving out east. Although I have never been to NB I imagine it to be exactly as you describe.
Except for number 5, I honestly feel you are also describing my childhood in a suburb of Toronto. At 40 years old, it amazes me when I stop to think about how much the world has changed as I see my children growing up in a society that is quite different. When I was 10 I remember going trick or treating alone with my friends all around my neighbourhood. At 13 I was babysitting many of the neighbours’ children & walking home alone at midnight. At 6 or 7 I walked to school alone and played outside unsupervised until dark. There were street parties and drop by’s from many family members and friends. I don’t think we ever spent a Sat. night alone, we always had company or were visiting someone. Now, I cannot imagine letting my children out of my sight until they’re probably at least 10, and although we have many friends the way of the “drop by” has disappeared as everyone is too busy or too tired or we just send a text instead of picking up the phone to say hi. I would love to go back to the simplicity of 1979!
LOVE this post- made me think about all the years I spent in a small town in Saskatchewan.
We knew all our neighbours, people gave out homemade treats for Halloween, you could call the local coffee shop if you were looking for someone and they’d find them for you. The thing I could do without was everyone knowing what I was up to- I could never get away with anything!!!
Roland Gassaway says
Fine Post. I searched the entire net for something like “Five Reasons I loved growing up in St. Stephen, New Brunswick – Family – The Balancing Act | urbanmoms.ca”. Thank you very much, it assisted me out.