When I joined the Canadian Coast Guard’s Inshore Rescue Boat program, I was surprised to find that half of my rookie classmates were also from Georgian Bay or Lake Huron. We were roughly three thousand kilometers away from home; training off the coast of Newfoundland. How is it that half of a nationally recruited program happened to be from home? There is something about this area that breeds hard-working and kind people.
My first thought is to my grandparents. Betty and Percy Warrilow are farmers from just outside of Owen Sound. My Grandpa was in the Navy during World War Two. Gram graduated from the University of Toronto over 60 years ago. They are both brave and accomplished, but the reason they come to mind now is for something that they wouldn’t even bat an eye about: their unyielding generosity. It hasn’t always been easy to live in Grey County, but folks like Betty and Percy have always been there to lend a hand to a neighbour in need. Their parents had done the same thing before them, taking in people who needed a bit of help along the way. When every generation in living memory has looked out for each other, in a selfless community spirit, it’s not hard to see how young people keep that pattern.
Now that I’m based out of Grey County again, I love to see the turn that Owen Sound has taken. Downtown is coming to life, with a vibrant music hall that draws in folks from all over, and restaurants that are churning out food so good that we can’t wait for friends to visit from the city so we can show it all off. I still travel a lot for my work, but I always look forward to getting home. Walking the Bruce Trail with our dog, or going for a kayak in the bay are some of my favourite things to do- and when you already live in cottage country, it’s only ever a few minutes away.