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Tuesday 20 October 2015

A Sense of Place

Our street was on the edge of town in those days. The name Sunrise was appropriate because you could look east over the city of St. John's, Newfoundland from the top of the street and watch the sun rise above Signal Hill. Woods bordered our back yard.

Mount Pearl was originally a military base for British troops in the 1800s. In the twentieth century, St. John's residents built their cottages, away from the bustle of city life. Then people started to live there year round. By the time our family moved there in the late 1950s, Mount Pearl was expanding. However, our home on the edge of the town was in a country setting.

My brother, Frank, loved Mount Pearl more than I ever did. We moved there when he was an infant, so he did not have prior knowledge of Maddox Cove where we had lived for two years before his birth. When we moved to Sunrise Avenue, I missed the ocean, the river, and the friends of my two years in the Cove. Our grandparents and uncle lived next door and I also missed them. My brother Frank embraced Mount Pearl like I never did.

                             Home in Mount Pearl

Our house on the edge of the town did have its benefits. The woods provided a great place for forts and camps, and my brother and the other neighbourhood boys enjoyed life there. The frog ponds provided hours of enjoyment. Our garage always harbored buckets of tadpoles in various stages of metamorphosis as they became frogs. They were often mauled to death by the grasping hands of curious boys. 

There were teenagers on our street, and lots of children my brother's age or younger, but his four and a half years younger meant that we had different interests and friends. There was no one my age on the street. I missed Maddox Cove, so every summer I stayed there with my grandparents. My family visited on the weekends. Mom did not know what to think when she saw me on Sundays and I just waved and went on with my friends. I loved the Cove and everything about it.

I never really felt like Mount Pearl was my town. Our family lived there so it was home but I belonged to the Cove, that other place, by the ocean. My brother is a true son of Mount Pearl, with lots of friends on the street when he was growing up, creating lots of great memories there.

After I left Mount Pearl, I moved to Buchans, then Grand Falls-Windsor, as far from the ocean as you can get on the island of Newfoundland. It was not until we moved to Summerside, Prince Edward Island, that I truly felt at home again, never more than a few miles from the sea.

For me, the ocean embodies life, friends, family and my sense of place in the world. My mother felt it too and for her, Maddox Cove was inscribed in her DNA. Mom lived there for twenty-one years. I had summers of my youth and a few early years, just enough to make an impact. We were both lucky.

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