The Roundabout was going in when we arrived from B.C. late last August. There was opinion on the street. Why the hell do we need it? Will the snowplows even fit through? Whose idea was this anyway? So, it was the bypass that introduced us to the lovely community of Sioux Lookout and surrounding area.
Before the SLFNHA Indeed ad, I never knew this beautiful place existed. Sioux Lookout? Let’s see… Google… Map of Ontario…Northwest … Ohhhh, kinda remote. I’ve told this same story repeatedly that I didn’t know where the hell Sioux Lookout was, but I’ve now come to find it arrogant. I’m sure many people don’t know where the hell Nelson, BC is. It’s remote too. Seeing something outside of my familiar filters takes time, as well as overcoming the conditioning of place. The inherent East vs West rivalry of being Canadian, the predictable city level: Toronto vs Ottawa vs Vancouver; Regina vs Saskatoon; Edmonton vs. Calgary; Montréal vs Québec City, Saint John vs Moncton; Dryden vs Sioux Lookout. It’s the same all over the world.
After our decision to try things out in Sioux, many months were spent vacillating between YOLO and WTF, never more than after that final turn from Hwy 17 to Hwy 72. And then, drive, drive, drive… How much longer? What have I gotten myself into? There’s not a whole lot out here. Little did I know then that I would learn to love that drive. 80 km/h for that drive of possibility/ necessity? I don’t think so. Zoom! Safeway? McDonalds? U-Haul? Kenora? Winnipeg? Zoom! Night Danger!
We parachuted in for a soft landing at Red Pine Lodge. Not only did we have a beautiful 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom cabin (my co-workers constantly asking” Is that a filter?”) from August to February, we gained an extended family, including two sweet dogs who would always come greet us when we returned home or, not so coincidentally, showed up at dinnertime. The Hall family took care of us with their generous hospitality and kindness. They invited us for meals, introduced us around, and most importantly became our first dear friends here. Forever grateful to them. And it didn’t stop there. We are forever grateful to the other families who helped us find a place in town, who gave us furniture to use until we brought our things from BC, who helped us with handy things and took us on walks as well as fishing and subsequent fish fry.
My experience here is limited but here are some general things I love after one year. I love strangers on the street who say to me with genuine smiles “Hey, beautiful day! Hey, love your hat! Hey, it’s hot, eh?” I love the lack of pretentiousness that can permeate parts of BC, I love not much tailgating or road rage and of course love the lack of crowds. My partner says it’s like living in a big campground. I can walk most places, and nothing is a long drive away. Love you can do a walk out by the airport and no one bats an eye when you come along a random Moose leg. I thought it was a big stick. Love the first-rate Entertainment Series.
Some favourite summer places so far are the dock at Red Pine and Bernier Beach.
My favourite street is good, old solid 7th Avenue, not for any aesthetic reason, but because that is where I walked on strike for seven days and met my “own” friends independent of my family. From the fire hydrant at Front Street to the Minion in the window to the trash receptacle where you turn to go to the hospital, I know every step of that street. Every morning I’d be greeted with friendliness from people (and their sweet dogs) who welcomed me and made me feel comfortable. They even sent a search party out to find me when I went picking trash on my own. Talk about a spontaneous experience that you could never, ever plan. Which segues into another thing I love about living here in Sioux Lookout. The BBQ’s! We had three BBQs on that picket line- two during, one after. BBQs all the time. Random BBQs everywhere. Seriously never been to so many BBQs in my life! Love it!
I don’t know how long I’ll stay in these parts, but I anticipate meeting more new friends and finding many more favourite places and experiences. I wish I would have had more curiosity about Northwestern Ontario in my life.
I do have questions though: Who are Gord and Rita? What’s the ratio of OPP to civilians?
As a noun, a Roundabout it a road junction where traffic moves in one direction around a central island to reach a certain converging road. As an adjective, it’s a non-linear, circuitous route, non-direct, possibly a confusing and frustrating journey. I’m so grateful that YOLO brought me to this converging Road of Sioux Lookout area, a beautiful and welcoming community. Very grateful. So, I’ll stick with the noun. Thank you for the much-needed education, NWO.
Submitted by Lynn Krauss