Sunday, February 13, 2011

Non-existent home

This morning I watched a documentary called Welcome to Pine Point.
It's about the village of Pine Point, NWT, which in the 1970s and 80s was a mining town.
With the mine as the only industry, when it shut down in 1988, so did the town.
Today, there is literally nothing left except some pavement with grass growing through the cracks.
In the film, former residents reminisce about what the town once was and who they once were, and the narrator raises questions about what it's like not having a hometown to return to.
While I watched, I couldn't help but think of my own hometown of Gold River, BC.
It's currently about the same size as Pine Point was, with a population of less than 1,400 people, and in 1998, it went through it's own closure. The pulp and paper mill, which was the main industry, closed, causing nearly 1,000 people to relocate.
Unlike Pine Point, though, Gold River survived the mill closure and the population decrease, and I have to say I'm grateful for that.
I can't imagine what it would be like to drive on the Gold River Highway to find the burning boot is no longer there to greet me when I arrive. Or to find the house that I lived in my entire life is no longer there. Or the elementary school where I learned to read, write, count, and make apple sauce has been reduced to a patch of concrete.
I'm so thankful that despite the mill closure, Gold River was able to hold tight, making logging and tourism the new lifeblood of our little village.
While thinking about all of this today, I began to reminisce myself.
I thought of Luna, our beloved orca, who spent years in Nootka Sound. I thought of the mountains, the ocean and Peppercorn Park, where we spent so many summer days swimming in the river's freezing cold glacier water. I thought of Girls Guides and camping at the Lion's Campground on the way to the government dock. I thought of being the timekeeper at hockey tournaments.
There are so many memories in that little village that always come to life when I make the trip home.
In the documentary, the narrator suggests Pine Point no longer existing can in some ways be considered positive. He says that because it's no longer there, it's not subject to the changing times, so all of the memories remain intact. No one returns home to see their home has been painted or a store has been renovated. Everything remains as it was.
Even so, I think I would still prefer to have a home to return to, and I'm happy to say my home is in the centre of Vancouver Island in a bowl of mountains, surrounded by rivers, lakes, wildlife and trees.

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