For me, I think my happiest memory was spent on the screened in porch of my chipboard cabin at around 6 o’clock in the morning, drinking coffee and watching the mist rise up from Ox Tongue river.
I was employed there one summer, a billion years ago, as a waitress. The job was kinda blah and the majority of my co-workers were 14 year old boys and completely irritating, but it was 2 of the best months of my life.
I am not sure why, but I actually ditched the job in the middle of the night with a girl that I had met and spent the rest of the summer couch surfing in the beaches in Toronto.
I was living in Winnipeg at the time. I can’t remember why I went on to spend so much time in Toronto? Maybe I needed to find money to go back to the prairies? I really have no idea.
Anyway, I consider that chipboard cabin to be my happy place and when I think of where I want to be, it’s there.
I’ve been trying to get back to that place ever since.
If I were alone, I am quite certain that I would be able to find some half standing cabin on a piece of land where I could live with all of my animals. It would be a paradise… but I am not alone and I have to consider my dream boy when creating my dream life.
John works in the city as a musician and audio tech in the field of television broadcasting. In the summer months, he works as a sound tech at Toronto’s Harbour Front Centre. We want to buy a house before 2019, but we need to be within a reasonable proximity to the city.
John had never considered home ownership to be within the realm of possibility, as Toronto is one of the most expensive places to live in Canada. I have always maintained that we could do it if we were to look outside of the city, but up until a few months ago we didn’t have a car.
Now that we have a vehicle, our whole world has expanded.
Initially, John had been pretty firm about not being willing to drive further than an hour and 20mins into the city. This driving radius still wasn’t reaching North enough for me. I want to be in a small(ish) community with lots of small businesses, a healthy arts community, lots of character homes, and easy access to trails and water.
I’ve been scouring realty apps and found a number of dream homes in Peterborough, Ontario. It is about 2hrs away, so not completely unreasonable, and is considered “the gateway to the kawarthas”, also known as cottage country.
Peterborough checks almost all my boxes. The city itself is over 100yrs old, so there is tons of history and lots of turn of the century homes.. many of which have already been beautifully restored. There is a prominent artist community that has been active since the early ’70s. Many Canadian artists and athletes have come from Peterborough, including Serena Ryder and Ronnie Hawkins.
Best yet, the properties that I have been looking at are priced at an average of approximately $250,000CAD. These are character homes built in the 1800s, usually refurbished, at least 4 bedrooms, a backyard, close to all amenities (important because I don’t drive). In Toronto, a similar home would cost over a million dollars without even an ounce of exaggeration.
When I showed John some of the places that I had picked out, he was stunned. He couldn’t believe that there was such a thing as a house that big and that affordable, with a backyard, available within driving distance to Toronto.
It finally hit him that the pride of ownership was actually achievable within a short period of time. We could live in Peterborough and pay a third of what we are paying in Toronto, have a cleaning lady (YES!!!), and not only be able to have some walking around money, but also be able to put money away for the kind of things you don’t always think about, like retirement!
As it turns out, John also has a lot of very fond memories of playing in that city. He played with The Weakerthans many years ago and has toured this country and the world a million times. Apparently Peterborough was one of his favourite places to play!
With all of that being said, I think that we have more or less decided that Peterborough will be our new home by next Christmas.. fingers crossed.
I’ve been reading about the city in advance of us taking a road trip to experience the city, firsthand. They apparently have a Canada’s only authentic gondola service on Little Lake. How cool is that?? The Canadian Canoe Museum, which I know I would love!! There are several Aboriginal Heritage sites & attractions that I know very much enjoy. The list goes on and on. It’s actually quite surprising how many attractions exist in Peterborough.
The only downsides that I see to the city is its median age of 42.5, which is a little higher than I would like and is trending higher and higher every year as people flock to retire there.
Also, there is very, very little multiculturalism. The non-white population, including Aboriginals, is only 5.9%. Where I grew up, I literally didn’t see my first black man until I was about 13(ish) on a school trip to Wet’n Wild.
Thankfully, there was Sesame Street, so I didn’t grow up to be a huge racist.
I find it very un-Canadian to live in a community that is so exclusively white. I didn’t think it was possible to still have such a place in our country. Specifically with so few Aboriginal people.
When you have a community with so little multiculturalism, there is a far greater chance to develop prejudice.
Plus, wouldn’t it be kind of boring?
When you order out, what are your options? And for a vegetarian?
In Toronto, we eat frequent Lebanese, Ethiopian, Sushi, Indian, etc.
I’ll bet they have a Sushi restaurant owned by a old guy named Frank. Brother.
I’m not going to let my immediate apprehension at Peterborough’s white-ness be too discouraging. It would be ignorant of me to assume that everyone there is a bigot just because of the city’s demographics.
Like I said, I had Sesame Street and turned out fine. Maybe they did too!
John’s is just beginning a new job and so is shifts are a little spotty at present. This will allow us the opportunity to take a trip up to Peterborough sometime in the very near future to get a feel for the place.
We plan to take the dogs and turn it into an adventure!!