I used to live, between the ages of 5 and 10, in Moosonee
, just across the Moose River from Moose Factory. The two towns are both the same size -- about a thousand people -- but Moose Factory was exotic
to me. To get there, you had to take a 20-minute ride in a freighter canoe
in summer, or in winter drive across the frozen Moose River
on a road the towns would plow
Moose Factory had a different Hudson's Bay
store; as the only big store in each town, that was a huge
deal. It had the hospital
and the dentist
-- so when I nearly broke my leg, and when I did a face plant
after wiping out
on my bike, I went over to see them both. It was about three hundred years old, and a lot older than Moosonee. The last thing I remember is that the Anglican Church
there had plugs about three inches across all around its walls, so that in case of a flood
(threatened yearly, never seen while I was there) they could just pull the plug
and let the water drain out.
Mostly, though, it was just the same: gravel roads, small houses, kids riding bikes and chewing Hubba-Bubba bubble gum (was it every kid that had this massive jones for sugar, or just where I grew up?), hand-made tamarac geese, soapstone carvings and handmade moccasins for sale, and tamarack and spruce trees everywhere.
In retrospect, this is the same sort of wonder at a new small town, indistinguishable to the outsider from the last small town, that I always associated with the American Midwest; I think that's because I'm Canadian.