Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The car broke down, so I got a job and an apartment

Photo credit Courtney
I've been asked a lot how I came to move to Thunder Bay, so here's the story: 

Back in July, I got invited to a tree planters wedding in Toronto and since I was still in the extended summer plant, I didn't think I would be able to make it. Then I found out the plant was shortened and we were going to finish the contract early, but not close enough to make the wedding. Then, the week leading up to the wedding, on the Tuesday night, the supervisor mentioned he was headed to the nearest town (2hrs away) at 3pm the next day, to drop someone off who was leaving two days early...

Something stirred inside me and I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned till 1am and finally went to try and use the internet. Teddy, my tree runner for the first weeks was heading on a road trip from Thunder Bay to Toronto to go to the wedding, and had offered to give me a ride. (He had left the plant early to take care of some things before going to Toronto)

So, I sent Teddy a message:  
Hey Teddy!!! Since the moment you left I wish I'd gone with you. If you're still in TBay tomorrow, I'm coming!!
He messaged me back seconds later:
haha aww, treeplanting is hard :(
I was going to leave tomorrow morning sometime but I'm in no rush, I can definitely wait up for you if you want :) let me know
It was set:
Yes!! I'll hop on a bus to T'Bay and call you in the afternoon.
What's your number?
I finally went to bed, super excited that I was going to be DONE tree planting, AND that I was going to make it to the wedding AND that I got to have an Ontario road trip with one of my favorite people from tree planting. 

Photo credit Courtney, Treeplanting supervisor
I ambushed the supervisor at 5am and told him I'd be leaving with him too, at 3pm. I spent the day packing up my things and figuring out the Greyhound bus. Calling a number of times through MagicJack, riding off the internet I finally got a phone call through. No, I could not buy a ticket the operator told me, but I could wait on the corner of Manitouwadge and hwy 614, and the bus would see me and stop... A little apprehensively I waited with my bags and realized I was fully prepared to set up camp if a bus never came. 

It was the sweetest bus ride ever, no more bumpy bush roads, no more bugs, a comfy seat and AC! I was amazed at how beautiful the scenery was. There were people taking this bus across Canada and checking off marvelous lakes on maps as we passed by. I couldn't help but think again, I could live up here.

Photo credit Courtney
I stepped off the Greyhound in Thunder Bay and looked around for Teddy. He picked me up in his sisters car and broke the news; Teddy's car had just broken down and was towed to the nearest mechanic. We'd be stuck in Thunder Bay awaiting his car's diagnosis. Everything had been smoothly operating but while waiting for me, he went on an errand and the car broke down completely.

Photo credit Courtney, Teddy and Luna
I stayed at his sisters house and enjoyed a free day, so happy to be in a house instead of a camp, and free from planting. The freedom embraced me and I took so much pleasure in branching off on my own and walking around town. I was jonesing for a bookstore and after asking around and was directed to a small bookshop.

I started talking to the lovely lady at the counter and asked if they were hiring. They only accept volunteer's, so I offered to volunteer and left my email address. We continued to talk, I told her about my blog, she told me about possible writing groups, I asked about job leads in the area. Then I asked about apartments in the area. I really liked this part of town as it's already where I know some good people live. "Actually... we have an apartment upstairs, but you'll have to talk to Margaret about it."

I met back up with Teddy and did some online work for my aunt. The car's diagnosis was not good, and we started checking flights to get us to the wedding. Air fare was more than double the price for a last minute ticket so we bought the Monday flight and hung our heads that the wedding was out of reach.  

The t-shirt says Front: A breed apart
Back: There are everyday men and women...and there are treeplanters.

That night, since we weren't leaving till Monday, drinks were in order. A group of us cleaned up tree planters went to the Sovereign room and Foundry, the popular pubs of T Bay. Before we left each I asked about a good time to stop by to drop off a resume, and was told to come back in the afternoon. I came back to an email from the book store, to come by anytime between 2:30 and 6 the next day. 

I printed out my resume at the library and headed The Sovereign Room. A most popular spot, with cool decor, eclectic beer list, and amazing food. That's where I really wanted to go, I had thought about working there the first time I came in, and had my first tasty bite of jalepeno empanadas. As luck would have it, the manager checked out my resume and had also been to Bocas del Toro, had also spent time in Toronto and just found out he needs someone in the middle of August. I could be here mid August... so we shook on it.

Pretty thrilled about that, I headed to the book store. The rent was more than I was looking to spend for a room so I went upstairs to see the place. It wasn't just a room as I had expected, but a full apartment with art and writing studio space.
Freshly painted with lots of nice natural light and the only furniture: a big writing desk with chair. "It's like we were just waiting for you and it was meant to be." said Margaret. So I put down a deposit right then and agreed to moving in mid August.
the desk

The whole place reminds me of when I lived in High Park and Bloor West Village. I would have never been able to get an apartment close to this size for the price in Toronto. The best part is in 30minutes I can be in the wilderness, in 5minutes I can be by the water front, in 3minutes I can be at work, in 30seconds I can be in a bookstore. 

Then it was time for some crazy bush party, the supervisor was having a Fun in the Sun party that would last the whole weekend for all the tree planters still in the area. Teddy and I had to participate. So I should let you know, it was a surprise for me to leave to road trip to the wedding, so you can imagine the surprise for my boyfriend. Then the car breaking down was also a surprise to me, and so continuing with the surprises we just showed up at Fun in the Sun. I was oblivious, but the relationship was already toast and he evacuated the courtship faster than it took to say bookstore. All the other people made it an awesome party and I laughed till my sides ached. 

Photo credit Courtney
A lot of tree planting relationships start and end with the season. It was so hard to accept that it was over when it was. I didn't pause about Thunder Bay though. There were other great people who would make my transition here seamless, thanks Shannon and Steph!
Actually I had wanted to move to Thunder Bay when I was seventeen. I held the acceptance letter to the pilot program at Confederation College in my right hand and the course catalog for Holistic Studies to stay in Toronto in my left. I figured I wanted a foundation for life before anything else and the Holistic Health program could give me that, and figured I could get my private pilot license when I was 50, or whenever I happened to get to Thunder Bay...  

You may remember this facebook update and maybe now it makes more sense:
What a weekend!! Tried to make a wedding and ended up staying in Thunder Bay, where I got a job and an apartment: You're looking at the new resident writer of a Bookstore! And got dumped, surprise! My stomach hurts from laughing so much at Nolalu fun in the Sun and have a plane ticket to Toronto in the morning. To all you Torontonians, LETS PARTY!!

So there it is, the story of how I came to live in Thunder Bay, and also this song (thanks Larsen!):



  1. Bob and I are so glad we met you today at the The Sovereign Room. Funny it is since there is a substancial age gap we have many things in common. I have a degree in Holistic Nutrition as well retirement life as a photographer touring across Canada. Keep in touch as there is so much to see in this beautiful country. Hope you can join us in our adventures across this country we call Canada!

    1. Thanks for reading and checking it out my blog. I hope our paths cross again. I look forward to reading about your ski bum ways!