Visit to Sioux Lookout like returning home for former exchange student
Tim Brody - Editor
For Australia’s Richard Ebbs, a recent five day visit to Sioux Lookout felt like coming home.
Ebbs was a Rotary exchange student in Sioux Lookout between January of 1984 and January of 1985.
He attended Queen Elizabeth District High School during his one year exchange.
“I spent six months with the Drew's (Reg and Edna). Three months at the start of my stay and three months at the end and then spent some time with three other families when I was here,” Ebbs shared.
He said returning to Sioux Lookout brought back a flood of fond memories.
“Just a terrific experience; its great coming back. That was over 30 years ago and it’s amazing how much I recollect of the year here. You wouldn’t think as a 15-16 year old you’d have such clear memories… but I remember everything so, so well; such a great experience.”
“We had a Canadian exchange student at my high school… and that sort of got me interested in Canada,” he said of the exchange.
“The funny story about that is, this is pre Google days, we grabbed our encyclopedia at home and grabbed a map of Canada and couldn’t find Sioux Lookout. Thunder Bay was on the map and Winnipeg was on the map, but no Sioux Lookout.
“For me to go home to Australia and to have had a year in Canada in such a fantastic and unique environment and had some experiences that a lot of Canadians haven't had the chance to experience was just such a special thing for me. It was great. While I was here I did enormous amounts of fishing, ice fishing, hunting, and skidooing, and boating, and waterskiing, and snowshoeing, and all of these sorts of things the kids who went to Winnipeg or Toronto, they never got to experience those things.”
His friendship with a former Sioux Lookouter who now lives in Australia, Don Eady, rekindled his desire to return.
“My kids are now 12 and 10, so I wanted to come at an age they would remember coming on a holiday to Canada,” he added.
Ebbs said he remembers the Drew’s fondly and wanted to see them again as well.
Ebbs and his children visited the Town Beach for Canada Day celebrations, something they thoroughly enjoyed.
“This is actually winter holidays in Australia. I had great memories of Canada and Sioux Lookout being hot and warm and being at the beach and on the water, so it was sort of deliberate… I’ve never forgotten Canada Day so it was really fortuitous that I planned the trip to be here in Sioux on Canada Day. It’s lovely to be back.”
He stated proudly he still recalls the Canadian National anthem word for word.
Some things in town have changed over the years he said; other things have stayed the same.
“Sioux Lookout has grown since I was here last. The population’s bigger. The town’s as vibrant as it was. Little things have changed, but it surprised me how much I remembered from my time here. I think fundamentally it’s about the people, just reconnecting. I was off with some high school buddies yesterday and spent time with the families I was here with, so as much as the town may have changed a bit, the people haven’t. It’s so nice to see people after such a long time and having had such great memories of them,” he shared.
Asked what he enjoys so much about Sioux Lookout he confided, “I think its small town. People look after each other, there’s a sense of being a tight community here and that hasn’t been lost. You get that sense coming back here that it’s a very tight community and people look after each other. It’s really nice to be back in that environment.”
He went on to add, “One of my great memories of being here is the water… I’ve organized a fishing trip tomorrow. We’ll have a shore lunch while we’re out and go swimming. That’s one of the special memories that I have and one of the things we’ll be doing while I’m here.”
Ebbs said it’s been amazing to experience Canada again with his children.
“My son and my daughter have said that Canada feels like home to them. I think there’s a lot of similarities between Canadians and Australians.”
Lucas Ebbs, 12, said he was having a great time visiting Sioux Lookout.
He said he and his sister really enjoyed Canada Day celebrations, adding he was really looking forward to the day on the water his father had planned.
Sophie Ebbs, 10, commented of Canada Day, “It’s really fun.”
She said of her visit to Sioux Lookout, “Everybody’s so nice and they’re always positive.”
Reg and Edna Drew said it was wonderful to have Richard visit with his family.
“We enjoyed having him here very much (as an exchange student). A fine young man,” Reg said recalling Ebb’s time with he and his wife.
“We’re so excited to have him here now. It was just like a child coming home,” Edna said.
“The kids are very helpful. It’s great. It’s just like he came home. That’s what it feels like,” Reg agreed.