this beautiful country

Gardner Creek

I love the fact that the country is right on our doorstep. In less than 15 minutes, you can drive from Saint John’s city centre to the country. I love driving in the country, following the roads as they wind up and down the hills, looking at mailboxes and barns, wondering about the dirt paths that disappear into unexplored territory.

The road out to Fairfield, just past the eastern boundary of Saint John, is a familiar route. My aunt moved here as a war bride when she married a Canadian soldier during the Second World War. It was quite a culture shock to move from the outskirts of London, England, to a small rural community, but the warm welcome from her new family made her feel at home. My mother and her parents followed, building a house and settling just down the road. Although that was many years ago now, my aunt and her extended family still live in the same area — just over the hill, around the corner and up the road from where this photo was taken.

To the casual eye, it looks like a scattering of houses and farms, far apart and disconnected, but I know it is a tight-knit community, where everyone looks out for their neighbours. Just last week, a new bridge was completed on the main road at Fairfield. My aunt loves to tell the story of how she and her late husband were the first to cross the old bridge. When we were visiting her yesterday, she told us that a neighbour brought her to the new bridge before the official opening last week so she could be the first to cross it again.

This may look like ordinary rural landscape, but love makes it beautiful.

Photo taken on March 15, 2009

7 thoughts on “this beautiful country

  1. What a lovely story and I love this whole area. Strangely enough, we were the last ones to pass over the old bridge. They let us through, and then they put up the signs.

    We often go to St. Martins, and take the road that goes through Garnett Settlement, because there’s a place … I think it may be called Duck Pond Beach [or so], with the Split Rock.

    When we’re out driving like this, I … like you, look at all the little roads and houses … pondering who they are, living there, and what it might be like. Therefore, this story about coming to Canada as a war bride was really sweet!

    • Thanks, Rebekah. I love the fact that you were the last to drive over the old bridge — I will be sure to tell my aunt, she will be tickled!

      The Duck Pond and beach with Split Rock is a favourite spot for my mom. The house her parents built was just a walk away, and she went there often while she was still living with them (before she married my father). I’m impressed that you know the area so well!

      • yeah, I remembered that when I read this post — that they let us through. So, please tell her that a Swedish woman and her Irish/Canadian spouse were the last ones 🙂

        We found Duck Pond by pure luck. We’d been looking at a map, and saw a place called Tynemouth Creek. Gerry didn’t even know about it, so we decided to go and check it out last year. Same trip, we saw a road sign that said Duck Pond Road, which sounded cute, so we drove in there. We’d seen the Split Rock from the road, but didn’t know we’d end up there. It was awesome. After that first trip, we’ve been there many times …to swim in the summer and so on. It’s a gem!

  2. We Canadian are lucky that, with the exception of Toronto, citizens in most cities can be in the countryside in a matter of minutes. Not everyone has an ocean so close though!
    A nice story of your family. My grandparents immigrated to Hamilton after WW I. Such a leap of faith.

    • Canada still has a lot more country than city, and I think that is a good thing, barefootheart! If you live in Toronto you can get to the lake fairly quickly (sometimes it helps to have wide open sky), but having the ocean next door is even better!

      A leap of faith is a great way to describe it — of the many stories I heard growing up, there was a lot about the adjustment to the new life but barely a mention of what was left behind (I suspect some memories are best left undisturbed). The only downside of being the result of recent immigration here is that I have occasionally felt unrooted because don’t have the same loyalty to this place that others might because my parents’ roots are on opposite sides of the world (my dad is from New Zealand). But I have come to understand that home is where you make it, and where people know your name.

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