Stepping Out of the Wilderness

Greetings from Timmins, Ontario–a “city” (broadly defined) which feels positively cosmopolitan after I spent the last two nights in the middle of nowhere. Hornepayne isn’t even a one-horse town: it’s more like a lame quarter-horse town, albeit one whose residents treated me like royalty. There actually isn’t a traffic light anywhere in Hornepayne; also, it’s worth noting that I drove one of the smallest vehicles in town, despite the fact I was driving a Dodge Durango.

My hotel–which was really a motel with a fancy name–was part of a complex which housed, among other things, a restaurant, a “quiet” bar, a public library, a CIBC, a convenience store, a swimming pool and the LCBO. Naturally, everybody in town gravitates towards it at various points during the day; the restaurant, for instance, is apparently a hot spot for middle-aged women at around two o’clock in the afternoon. The rooms didn’t have internet, while the lobby computer actually cost $5 an hour to use. In a way it was nice getting away from it all–but the novelty wore off quickly, and soon I was eager to get back to civilization. As if to underscore this point, when I went to the restaurant for breakfast this morning the radio was playing “You Belong to the City” by Glen Frey. I know I’ve got issues with Toronto–who doesn’t?–but after forty-eight hours in Hornepayne I was practically begging to be back.

Instead, I drove four-and-a-half hours to Timmins, which is famously home to Shania Twain (as well as Bill Barilko, famously celebrated by the Tragically Hip in “Fifty Mission Cap”). There are actually 45,000 people living here, which by northern standards is gigantic; that said, the mere presence of a Tim Hortons would have felt earth-shattering after two days in Hornepayne. I feel, to quote Gord Downie, like I’ve stepped out of the winderness all squint-eyed and confused. I have one presentation tomorrow, in Cochrane (near where Bill Barilko died “in 1951…in a plane…”). After that, Bri arrives in town for a fun-filled weekend in Ontario’s hinterland. If you don’t think we have plans to visit the Shania Twain museum, you’re mistaken; if this doesn’t scream “photo blog” I don’t know what does.

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