I’ve lived in a few places in my life; more than I thought I would end up doing, anyway.
Jan 1969 – Aug 1987: West Brook
A very small farming community in a small eastern Canadian province. Our family farm is there, and my family is still there farming it. Like a stupid kid I didn’t appreciate it enough when I was there, but I sure do now. I love going back to the peace and quiet and family.
Sep 1987 – Aug 1993: Halifax
The capital city of Nova Scotia, Halifax is where I did most of my university studies. It’s a port town, a navy town, an historic tourist destination, and home to one of the largest densities of drinking establishments in North America. It’s a simple place, but an easy place to have fun in. It got a makeover several years ago when it hosted a G8 summit and it’s been looking good ever since.
Sep 1993 – Apr 1994: Toronto
The biggest city in Canada, and the capital of the province (but not the nation) it’s in, Ontario. I was there only a short while, for grad school. Toronto is the world’s most ethnically diverse city, a mosaic of 5 million+ people from all around the world. It’s a bit like a big American city – sometime it wants to be – but with very few of the downsides like crime or extreme economic inequality. Sure, it’s got plenty of big-city problems, but not on the scale that usually happens for cities this size. It may be one of the least friendly places in Canada, but that still makes it very friendly. My brother and his wife have lived there for many years.
May 1994 – Oct 1995: Pembroke
I lived in this small northeastern Ontario city for a year and a half while doing my Master’s research at a nearby nuclear research facility. It’s known for its logging heritage. I can’t really say I enjoyed it that much.
Nov 1995: Deep River
I was here for just one month, as my lease in Pembroke ran out before I could move to Ottawa. Given that it’s a town made specifically to house nuclear physicists for nearby research facility I was glad I wasn’t there for longer. Interesting note: in David Lynch’s film Mulholland Drive, Naomi Watt’s character Betty is from here.
Dec 1995 – Jan 2001: Ottawa
I got a job and moved here, Canada’s capital city. As fate had it, some of my best friends in the world had moved there, too, so Ottawa was a lot of fun (they still live there). I lived in two different spots, both in centre town – one a big apartment tower, the other a nice spot in a duplex top unit on a leafy street. Like many capital cities it’s well taken care of: there are plenty of museums, green spaces, and festivals. The Rideau Canal makes for a great centrepiece in summer and winter. It’s a relatively quiet place, but it’s got everything you need, and seemed a good place to bring up kids. When I got to the end of my six years, though, I was ready to move.
Feb 2001 – Oct 2009: London
London has it all: everything happens there, it’s got awesome history, the cuisine is tops, and there’s no better hopping-off place for travelling. Well, that is, until the economy went south. And getting around was expensive and, sometimes, painful. And the weather was sooo gloomy. But I never, ever got tired of London. If I had to move back I would not begrudge that ancient, lively, mysterious city at all. I lived in Hampstead (which is genteel and quite fancy), West Hampstead (which is just a bit rough around the edges), and Ealing (which was comfortable and independent). I still have amazing friends in London.
Nov 2009 – present: Sydney
Another great city. Its natural beauty – the harbour, the beaches, the nearby Blue Mountains – is breathtaking. So far I’ve lived in Cammeray (small hilltop enclave to the north), Neutral Bay (genteel family suburb on the north shore), and Marrickville (former Greek neighbourhood, then Vietnamese, now burgeoning yuppie hangout). It’s another city of recent immigrants, and has that energy, and that diversity of neighbourhoods that means you can always find something exciting. But it also feels like it’s resting on its laurels a bit, and needs to prove itself if it doesn’t want to be overtaken by the other Australian cities where things are growing.