As relative newcomers to the Chateauguay Valley, my husband and I are frequently asked where we moved from. The answer, Los Angeles, usually raises eyebrows and swiftly prompts another question: why on earth did you move here?
Without a doubt, changing pace from a life in LA, (population approximately 10 million) to an existence in Dewittville (population approximately 100) has been a dramatic lifestyle adjustment. While those inquiring might question the logic in leaving a climate with a median, year-round temperature of 20 degrees Celsius, the answer that continually elicits a knowing nod is: we wanted to raise our children with space to roam, discover, and learn in a welcoming community. When a good friend of ours introduced us to the area three years ago, we unexpectedly found a hamlet to call home.
Unlike other places I have lived, when I take a walk through our village I never return feeling lonely. Here, nobody bustles past with averted eyes. Instead passerby’s smile, wave and make space for my stroller and dog on the road. More often than not, I wind up out for twice the time expected chatting with neighbors, stopping in for tea, or being given a surplus of late summer zucchinis. Suffice it to say, this type of thing simply doesn’t occur in a major metropolis. And I suppose at this stage of life—as a wife and mother of two—I’m at a place where a friendly jar of jam left on the doorstep trumps an anonymous celebrity sighting any day.
I am happy to have the opportunity to learn more about our new community while covering local events at The Gleaner for Stephanie McBride as she welcomes a new baby this March. Since completing a Master’s in Creative Writing at The University of British Columbia in 2007, I have worked as a freelance writer for newspapers, magazines and online outlets. I published my first book, Prude, in 2012 and I am currently working on a novel set in my native Nova Scotia. I look forward to deepening our Quebec roots in this unique and vibrant community and calling ourselves true residents of the valley, which as one Dewittvillian made sure to tell me takes at least 10 years. So far so good. You never know, we just may see your 10 and raise you 40.