One of the Tri-Towns
, directly between Cobalt
and New Liskeard
and about a fifteen-minute drive along Highway 11B from each. It's a
very pretty little town right on the edge of Lake Temiskaming, with a lot
of very nice, very big houses left over from Cobalt's boom
of an early suburb. The Haileybury School of Mines is, I understand,
world-reknowned (seriously). The town is also trying to make a go as
a retirement community; if you can live with Northern Ontario
I think it'd be an excellent small town to retire
It used to have a high school of its own, Cobalt-Haileybury High
School. People in my class during my last year of public school in
Temagami were surprised I didn't choose to go there: after all, it
had its own astronomy club and course, complete with telescope, and
I was a geek. CHSS was a great deal smaller than New Liskeard Secondary
School though, and I wanted to join the big leagues.
In my last year of high school the two were merged; I'm sure there's
poetic something or other somewhere in that.
I have a lot of very fond memories of Haileybury, because I lived there
during that last year. Previous years had been spent either in Temagami,
60 km away, or away. This was the first time I lived close by
my high school friends, and I made the most of it. My first girlfriend
ever lived just up the street from me; for the first time, I was able
to go to parties at friends' places; there was the Lions Club, where
the girl I went to the prom with might have had a date, maybe, at
her cousin's wedding; and there were some very fine nights spent down
by the beach watching the lights of Quebec across Lake Temiskaming,
or walking through the streets on winter nights, looking at houses and
watching falling snow through the street lights. If it sounds idyllic,
it's because it was.
About three years after that, I moved to London, England. London was
the first place I'd lived in that didn't really have winter, and it was
very strange for me to not need six layers of clothing from October
One night in March or April I was walking to see friend of mine who
lived in Notting Hill. I was living near Gloucester Road in South
Kensington, so it was just the right length of walk -- long enough to
feel like exertion, short enough to be enjoyable. I'd found a route
through a very posh section of High Street Kensington (right by the
Isreali embassy as I recall), and there were some really lovely homes.
This particular night I was staring at my feet as I walked, mooning over
the girl I was really going to see, when I happened to look up.
There were these big, flowering trees -- cherry trees, maybe -- all
along the street, and I was in front of one of the biggest. The blossoms
were white, in bunches the size of a big man's fist, and absolutely
covered it. The petals were starting to fall, and the sidewalk was
littered with them. On my right was a house, close to the sidewalk in the way
that London houses (and, I suspect, most English houses) are,
painted white. There was a streetlight behind the tree to complete
the setting; you couldn't see the lamp itself, just the halo of light
filtered through the blossoms.
The effect was absolutely magical, and it stopped me dead in my
tracks. For a moment I was convinced that I was back in Haileybury, walking
on a winter night, counting the minutes until my girlfriend was off work,
straining to hear the snow fall.