Small Town Advantage
After living in Edmonton for the past eight years (population 877,926), we recently moved back to Welland, Ontario (population 50,631).
In Edmonton I could go anywhere and the odds are I would never run into a single person I knew. In Welland, that’s not the case because, as in other small towns across the country, people know each other. That’s one of the many things I missed.
In addition to not knowing a lot of people in Edmonton, I missed the friendliness of Welland. I missed chatting with my neighbours. People here are nice. In Edmonton it was rare to have someone stop and wave your car into the flow of traffic whereas in Welland it is an everyday occurrence. I missed people smiling and saying good morning even when they don’t know who I am. On the other hand, a lot of people do know you.
I like that residents in small towns rally when one of their own needs help whether it’s a fundraiser for a family who lost everything in a fire or coming together as a community to grieve when a young life is lost in a car accident. In addition to reacting, residents also take the initiative to organize themselves. In a big city everyone seems to assume someone else will step up to the plate.
I feel safer in Welland, even walking by myself after dark. I’m convinced there is a greater sense of peace and quiet, the air is fresher, and that there is more green space. Welland has the added bonus of the recreational waterway and beautiful trails.
In addition to the lack of traffic jams, it always seems easier to get to where you need to go. Even more importantly, you know who to go to as well as where you’ll find them.
As in most small towns, there is a lot of character, atmosphere, and charm. I love that the real estate is varied and cookie cutter neighbourhoods aren’t as common as they are in many larger communities.
For sure Wellanders have to work harder at creating new jobs after the closure of a number of plants. Hosting the flatwater races that are part of the PanAm Games are the result of a focus on utilizing and building on their assets - in this case the Welland Canal Recreational Waterway.
In some ways living in Welland or any other small town is like traveling back in a time machine to an era where life is less complicated, less stressed, and people know their neighbours. Despite the challenging times, people know and care about one another. With that comes a sense of belonging and a feeling of home.
Thomas Wolfe once wrote, You Can’t Go Home Again but I’m not sure he got that right. I’m home and it feels pretty darn good. Thanks Welland.
Posted on 07-12-15
Previous entry: Peace Pilgrim: Her Inspiring Legacy