My Little Town – Paul Simon Revisited

MV Jiimaan leaves port at Kingsville for Pelee...

MV Jiimaan leaves port at Kingsville for Pelee Island. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was published in a newspaper called The Daytripper that is distributed in southwestern Ontario. Written in answer to the question: ‘What makes your town worth a daytrip”, it will give you a little glimpse into my hometown. When I was younger, I sang along with Paul Simon and agreed with his despair in living in a small town. I no longer have angst about small town living—having married a hometown boy and raised my sons here. I have lived in the town “proper” for the last 32 years. Without further ado:

~ An Appealing Town ~

“You may no longer hear the strains of “The Mettawas Waltz” from the former Mettawas Hotel that once made Kingsville famous, but the town is one of the most picturesque in the area.  Despite the fact that whiskey magnate and owner of the Mettawas, Hiram Walker, pulled up stakes from the town long ago, it has grown and flourished.  And it is no wonder:  located on the shores of Lake Erie, it is a quaint, yet modern mini metropolis that has not lost its small town feel.

Coat of arms of the town of Kingsville, Ontario.

Coat of arms  Town of Kingsville, Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A town is more than its location. While we vie for the title of southernmost town in Ontario with some of our neighbours, it is in our community spirit that we excel. I know this because I attend and cover the Town Council meetings for the local newspaper. The people of Kingsville love their town and want it to grow, while at the same time not risk losing its appealing charm. In fact, our logo a few years back dubbed us the Port of Appeal.

Council meetings in our happily amalgamated town can be quite lively, especially if it concerns something the residents are passionate about.  Preservation of our historic homes and buildings has taken a front seat since people started to become aware that some of our heritage buildings were being razed without proper notice. One very shining example of a community project is our Train Station, restored to its former glory, and currently open to the public in its reincarnation as a restaurant.  We have a state-of-the-art library in the town core (one of three within the municipal town limits), located in a refurbished building that was sitting empty. Its former home, a Carnegie building, is being considered for new life as a possible Arts and Visitors Centre, instead of being a target for the wrecking ball. (Since this was written, the Carnegie has been beautifully refurbished and is not only an Arts and Visitors Centre but also our Tourist Information Centre.)

We have it all—small shops, restaurants galore, specialty stores, as well as big markets and large retailers. They all fit neatly into the puzzle that is our town.  While the town proper is a hub of activity, our municipality of Kingsville boasts fertile farmland, a fishing industry, and manufacturing. Amalgamation gave Kingsville a big bonus–the villages of Cottam and Ruthven, which each have their own unique attractions.

I have lived in this area all of my life, except for a sojourn in the big city of Windsor for post-secondary education (for seven short years). For the first twenty years of my life I was a “country girl” and grew up in a close knit community (with amalgamation, my old community is now part of the municipality of Kingsville) where school and church were the centres of social activities, and a trip to town was always something to look forward to. For the last —-ahem, number of years I have lived in an older area of the town proper. Having resided in both the rural and urban areas of Kingsville, I have come to the conclusion that it is the people of the municipality that makes this area special. I think it must be something in the water. And it is not just the fish.

Kingsville has beautiful Lakeside Park with rolling hills just right for winter tobogganing, stately trees to picnic under, and a Pavilion that hosts all kinds of activities year round. It is most notably home to the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary, and just a few minutes away are the historical John R. Park Homestead, and a gem that is truly a well-kept secret that must be revealed: the Canadian Transportation Museum and Village. With wineries galore, (at least 13 and growing within 20 miles) Kingsville is a destination truly worthy of any daytrip!”

So, if you are ever in my area, drop by my “little town”—it is only about 30 miles from the Windsor/Detroit border. We do not care what anyone else says—we are the southernmost point in Canada. As Christmas approaches, the town is lit up with snowflakes on our main streets, and we have the Fantasy of Lights in Lakeside Park.

Are you a big city dweller, small town girl or boy, or do you enjoy country life? What does your town do for Christmas?

 

~ Feeling A Little Bedraggled Today ~

Richmond Town Council

Town Council (Photo credit: Burwash Calligrapher)

What do you do when you have been publicly embarrassed? It happened to me last night at a Town Council meeting. I work as a reporter covering municipal politics, and in doing so, I have to attend their regular meetings. I make notes furiously and hopefully accurately.

I like to be accurate in what I report. And since I have covered town council meetings for years I have a lot of knowledge on how things work. I know that when someone asks Council to lower a speed limit, they refer it to the Police Board for a recommendation before making a decision. I know this. Yet, I wrote an article stating that Council had approved the lowering of the speed limit without this additional step.  And (to add insult to injury) I said that the decision was unanimous.

When I wrote up the story, I remember thinking to myself that it was odd that they did not follow the usual procedure and send it to the Police Board first before approving. But, instead of checking to make sure that my notes were correct, I wrote it up, even though I was second guessing myself.

Now, the paper I work for is not a national or even city paper. It is a small town weekly—but none-the-less, I think it is a pretty good paper. We try to cover community events and let the people know what is happening in the municipality. I feel that writing up council news is sort of my way of contributing to the community.

Last night a Councillor pointed out that the paper had made an error in the article about the speed limit. He did not come to me quietly and tell me about the mistake—he announced it in front of Council and the audience of people who were attending because there was something on the Council Agenda that they were interested in.

I would be the first one to admit I do not take criticism well. I learn from it never-the-less. But I thought that the Councillor was particularly ungenerous in his comments. And it stung all the more because I was guilty of making a mistake. A mistake I had not bothered to correct, even though I had questioned it.

I probably deserved a little comeuppance, and the fact that I should have made a phone call to check my facts was undeniable. But why did the Councillor feel he had to embarrass me? I try to portray Council in a fair fashion as a reporter is charged to do. The mistake is not earth shattering. It can be easily remedied. That is not the point. The point is that it felt like someone was trying to make himself look good at the expense of another.

Am I just being a little too sensitive? Yes, I guess I am. But I would never do to another what was done to me last night.

What do you think?