Conversation you would commonly hear in Dryden, say 30 years ago —


“Mmm, yass, my Johnny is doing so well in the big city, he is some kind of an executive in computers”, or “he is manager of a financial place” Reply,   “Mmm yass, I certainly hope my kids will move to a city, there is nothing for them here”

Put simply, a frontier mentality had taken over our town. Perhaps it came with the 1950’s mill expansion, and resulting influx of frontiersmen, that is, those who came here for the job, and expect to move back ‘home’ someday; as opposed to settlers, who came to make a home for themselves and their families.  In this mentality/culture you and your kids were judged failures if they stayed here; it was socially unacceptable, they had to leave.

Too bad. For most of the last half of the last century, success was too easy here, opportunities abounded.  There was a perennial shortage of all kinds of professionals, tradesmen, labourers, entrepreneurs. Consultants told us our only economic problem was a chronic housing shortage.  Too easy, so you had to prove yourself somewhere else to be considered a success.

This all changed in the new century, with what seemed like the deliberate destruction of the economy of northern Ontario. No more easy life.  Amazingly, our culture also changed; suddenly it is acceptable for our young people to stay here.  Perhaps because it is apparent that if you can succeed here now, you can succeed anywhere.

And the other good news is, we are seeing people who moved away over the past 30 or more years coming back home. It is socially acceptable now, and life is so much better here.  It is home.  No more bucking city traffic, leaving more time for a social life; social clubs and service clubs and interest groups abound.  Time and opportunity to participate in sports such as golf, curling, bowling, softball, court games, swimming.  Time to use our super facilities, we have ten times as much ice time and pool time, and way more ball diamond time, golf course time, handball court time, soccer pitch time, per person, than any city.  Add in our amazing concert hall, and music and arts community, and about the only place the cities beat us is in traffic, child molesters, drug dealers, and of course really cool criminals.

Most of us have access to summer camps, and all have access to scenic swimming beaches and fishing places, not to mention the snowmobile and the four-wheeler. We live in the wilderness and escape to the city a few times a year.  City dwellers live in the city and with great difficulty escape to the wilderness on rare occasions.

Welcome back, all you who had to move away. Welcome, you who know these advantages and will appreciate them.  Welcome, as you replace reluctant transplants who feel they have been sent to an uninhabitable north and will only see thorns, no roses.  Welcome, as you enrich our community with your energy and participation and traditional high level of Dryden volunteerism.  Welcome back.

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