This blog is about our travels in our solar powered "Airstream" and living off grid, in our passive solar home, near Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.

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Tuesday 27 November 2012


We moved to Bancroft population 3,500 from a city of 500,000. There are differences. 

When I was 14 my dad let me drive down-town. (dad sat beside me and it was before 8 on a Saturday morning)  I didn't have a licence but Brampton then was "small" town and everyone knew everyone else. 

You knew where the doctors lived, where the mayor lived, where the chief of police lived.

Our town at the time had a population of maybe 6,000, 3 firemen (the rest were volunteers), 1 police chief and 2 officers, and one traffic light. When the police officer on the "beat" was needed at the police station they would turn on a light above the one traffic light. When the light was on he knew he was needed at the station.

Even in the early 60's they still called him in using the light over the traffic light. At that time our police force also operated the only ambulance service in town. Can you imagine the length of time you would wait for an ambulance? I called for the ambulance once, and called back in twenty minutes to see when he was coming; it was slow.

There was no 911 emergency number back then but we did have "fire boxes" These were scattered throughout the town and if you spotted a fire you could run to the "fire box" and wait for the fire engine to arrive.  Now if it was a big fire and a second truck was needed then the fire chief would use someone's house phone to get a volunteer to bring the second truck. Remember we didn't have cell phones back in the 60s and emergency response teams didn't have walkie-talkies. 

Stores closed on Wednesday afternoon and were closed on Sunday. We didn't have credit cards, big box stores or e-bay. Most stores were family owned with the grocery stores being the "corporate" stores in town.

There was a bank on every corner of the main intersection and the town was busiest on a Friday night.  If you were in scouts and had to sell apples on "apple" day the best spot was outside the beer store.

Most boys played hockey in winter and baseball in summer. Those were the only organized games in town and parents didn't sit in the stands and go berserk when their kid missed a catch. There was no soccer, basketball, 3-pitch, T-ball, volleyball, football, or track and field club.

In the summer we would line up for hours waiting for the swimming pool to open. No one except the Farrs had a pool and no one had air-conditioning. If you wanted the house cool you covered the windows with paper and opened them at night to let in some cool air.

By today's standards we were probably greatly deprived. 

We played street hockey, even in summer, went hiking in Pocock's woods and tobogganing  on the Legion hill.

Many men could walk to work and go home for lunch. In school we all went home and didn't have to be back until 1:30. School started at 9 and finished at 4 with an hour and a half for lunch.  We had no gym classes but we did have "shop" at another school on the far side of town. We had  to walk all the way across town, to get there and we did this by ourselves, unsupervised. Imagine, 12 year olds allowed to walk through town by themselves to get to "shop" and "home-ec" class. We all did it, no problem and we all arrived on time. We did stop at the candy store for a little extra fuel on the way through town.

We didn't have guns or gun violence. You could walk the streets at midnight and feel safe. If you needed help you asked a cop on the beat and he took care of it. We rode our bikes to school and never locked them up. Matter of fact we seldom locked our doors at home.

Life in the small town. We loved it and we missed it.

Tomorrow, our experience today in small town Ontario.

Thanks for stopping by and be safe out there.

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