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Mythology 101

Steve Campbell

My last column created something of a firestorm on the countylive.ca website, because any mention of the  urban/rural rift, inevitably brings out an ‘us vs. them’ attitude in County residents.
This was not my intent. In fact, I was trying to draw a picture of how cohesive the County is, despite the difference in sensibilities between the Old Guard and the New Arrivals (i.e. post-1799).
But some things never die in the County, even though they are more myth than reality.
So, being the kind of guy who grabs a toothbrush when he has his head in the lion’s mouth, I’d like to throw a few other long-standing County myths on the table.
1. You have to be born and raised here to be ‘County’. Sure there are still people out there who believe this, and they are trumped by the people who have Loyalist roots. But this attitude is slowly dying by attrition.
I can say this, because I was born here, and have a seven-generation Loyalist bloodline on my mother’s side. But that doesn’t make me superior to you. What makes me superior to you is my stunning good looks, manly physique, quick wit and enormous ego.
2. All young people need to leave the County to find a job. Sure, good-paying jobs are hard to find here, but not impossible. A good number of kids from my high school class now run businesses here.
Janet Kellough once noted that the two of us had something in common: We wanted to stay in the County, so we created our own jobs based on our personal skills, and the support of our local market. And we had fun doing it.
It was a lifestyle decision and – though neither of us are stinking rich (although I hear Janet has a Daily Interest Savings Account which nets .00000000001% each month) – we are rewarded every day through our services to the County and the community. And that’s why most of us are here, including you.
Not everyone is cut out for small business, I’ll admit. And it’s not an easy road.
To me, part of the problem is that every level of our educational system focuses on academic achievement. Students who excel in maths and sciences receive way more attention than those who choose art, writing, music or dance.
But, let’s face it. If you gain a degree in anthropology, your job prospects in the County are limited. Of course, a degree in pre-Shakespearean Olde English lit is still in hot demand everywhere.
The point is: There are jobs to be had. People willing to do them? Not so much.
Ask any large farming operator, who is forced to bring in off-shore labour, because today’s County kids won’t do work that’s hard, strenuous or boringly repetitive. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.
3. People who camp at the Sandbanks Provincial Park don’t spend any money in the County. They bring their own food and firewood, and temporary living accommodations, and never leave the perimeters of the Park.
I have heard this since I was 13 years old. Wrong then, wrong now.
I don’t get why this has ever been an issue! First, roll yourself underneath a thin sheet of nylon in the pouring rain, which has just started to seep up through your sleeping bag. Then have this conversation:
“Honey, could we go into town and have a meal that does not contain sand and pine needles and smells like wet charred cedar?”
“Hell, no! Pass over that stick of Beef Jerky, and please shake the mosquitoes off first.”
If you live on the north or south shore of East Lake, or the Bloomfield-to-West-Lake corridor, you know you will take your life in hands if you try to back out of your driveway at 5 pm.
The Sandbankers are swarming into town at the same rate they arrived – Don Valley bumper-to-bumper, swerving to left and right as if they think they can possibly pass 12 cars and get back in safely, like Evil Kneivel on a lucky day.
Believe me, there’s money pouring into County coffers there.
4. The County is going ‘upscale’, and prices have exceeded what locals can afford.
Hah! Got you there, because this is not a myth. It is indeed a fact. And it is perhaps the very deep root of the long-timers’ resentment of the city influence.
On the one hand, the County benefits from top chefs in great restaurants, and world-class winemakers bringing County wines into the national spotlight.
On the other hand, this very thing that draws city people to the County – boosting our tourism industry with much-needed money – has also stratified the County people back into the ‘us and them’ mode.
One long-time resident said to me that Bloomfield is “more like a County Fair than a village.” This is because the grocery store, meat market, hardware store, and even the barber shop, have all disappeared. They are now ‘boutiques’.
Times have indeed changed, and the village has changed to suit a new market.
It’s sad, in many ways, but I have to ask myself, “Why did it change.”
The answer is simple. Supermarkets replaced local grocery stores and meat markets (with the exception of Gilmour’s in Rossmore and Goodfellow’s in Picton, which both provide top-quality meats at decent prices). Dozens of giant hardware stores appeared within a half-hour drive. Hair salons replaced the old striped pole. (I’m thankful for that, as they only had one style of cut in the ‘Good Old Days’, done with the electric clippers, so everyone walked out looking like a reject from The Beach Boys, or the U.S. Army.)
Now here’s a twist I want you to consider carefully.
Who killed all of these businesses?
You. Simply by where you wanted to spend your money.
Don’t cry to me that the new restaurants are unaffordable to locals. There are still good family restaurants in the County. Do you spend your money there? Off the top of my head: Gus’s on Main, Williams Family on Elizabeth, Cherry Valley Springs a short drive away, Emm’s Restaurant at Consecon, the new Dave’s Roadhouse in Bloomfield. All old-style family restaurants. Been to any of them?
But you’ll bitch like hell when they’re gone. And bemoan the passing of a local business you never supported.
Instead of wailing about ‘upscale’, back the things you want to keep. Save two bucks at Home Depot or Walmart in Belleville? Or take your business to Evans Lumber, or Wellington Building Supply, or Stedman’s or Giant Tiger, or any number of struggling local businesses.
Don’t cry to me Argentina, the truth is they never met you.

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElseSteve Campbell

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  1. David Norman says:

    Jason… did you have to bring up the “large rotating erections”! Now everybody’s going to want one! or is that a myth too!

  2. Jason says:

    The County will and has survived all new influences. It has a way of absorbing them and making them it’s own….(like city people, weren’t we talking about city people?)

    Just to be clear, and to keep the rabid dingos from eviscerating me, I have no opinion on the topic of large rotating erections, (no, not city people).

  3. Marnie says:

    Yes, there are “good jobs” here – mostly part-time jobs that pay little more than minimum wage and offer no benefits. I worked at one of them briefly. I was called in for a shift quite a few times only to have the store manager cancel it if it was not too busy that day. I had to stay and clean up after closing time but was not paid for the time it took to mop the floor and take the day’s receipts to a bank deposit box. That was donated labour. It did not take long to see that there was no future in this so I found a full-time job in Belleville. Did I enjoy commuting? No, but I was earning a lot more than minimum wage and I had steady hours.

  4. Paul Cole says:

    As to the second Mythology although there are some good jobs to be had in The County the seasonal jobs like farm work took a beating when changes were made to Employement Insurance.Many folks would work the summer for Farmers Fisheries and the like and draw unemployement through the winter months unless something better was found thats all changed now..

  5. Mark says:

    I don’t think Donna gives a tinker’s damn what store owners think, believe, vote for or worship. I think she is just against anything or anybody that stands in the way of her Industrial Wind Turbines. At least she is right out front so that her grandchildren can see she was supportive of this environmental boondoggle.

  6. David Norman says:

    Donna… you stated “While I try to support County stores as much as my budget allows, businesses who now post ‘anti-wind turbine’ signs do NOT get my business NOR that of my friends and family from the city.” This statement is indeed bigoted, since it is demonstrative of a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices. And as an aside, the word “bigot” is said to have been used by King Charles in redress to my Great (many times) Grandfather, Duke Rollo. When receiving Gisla, daughter of King Charles, in marriage, and with her the investiture of the dukedom, he refused to kiss the king’s foot in token of subjection – unless the king would hold it out for that specific purpose. When being urged to do it by those present, Rollo answered hastily “No, by God”, whereupon the King, turning about, called him bigot, which then passed from him to his people. Like (grand)father like (grand)son as the saying goes.

  7. Marnie says:

    Donna – I still see no harm in a store owner posting a sign for or against a cause that is important to him or her. As long as customers are being served efficiently and such a sign does not interfere with business as usual it’s not a big issue. Sure, it’s personal but that store owner has a big stake in this community and it’s good business for him or her to protect it in the way he or she believes will ensure the best outcome. Stores have all sorts of posters supporting various causes and events. It’s up to us to decide what interests us and what doesn’t. I might not agree with a store owner’s personal opinions but that would not stop me from patronizing the store.

  8. Donna says:

    Marnie, I don’t want to belabour the point. If you really read my post you would understand that my opinion is that the store owners’ PERSONAL opinions (and thus race, religion, etc) are private and should not be mixed with BUSINESS.

    I totally agree with you that customer service is crucial to business success. As is marketing, appropriateness of goods and services, window-dressing, cleanliness, and many other factors. Wouldn’t it be helpful if all our County businesses could get together to discuss all these factors and learn from one another?

  9. Marnie says:

    Donna, I seriously doubt that the tourists care about the signs you say are littering the stores. They don’t live here and it’s not their fight. Where the heck do you shop, anyway? I have not seen any evidence of local stores being littered with signs for or against wind turbines. There was a story in the paper about one sign in one store. It was said in the story that the sign had been removed.

    If you condemn a merchant who puts up a sign for or against wind turbines do you also need to know his race, religion, political persuasion etc before you approve of him and patronize his store? What if a merchant does not approve of you for some reason and decides that he does not want your business? Just thank your lucky stars that we live in a free country where people can express their opinions, right or wrong, without being punished for it.

    As for what kills local businesses, poor customer service is one thing that comes to mind. Most local stores have good staff but I have also wandered around in some business places waiting in vain for someone to notice me. I have actually waited for clerks to finish a personal conversation before ringing me through a register. And while we are at it, ever notice that some of our local stores and businesses hire people from Belleville and other nearby communities to work for them? Hard to believe that there are no county people who could do their jobs.

  10. Donna says:

    Actually, Virginia and I were just expressing our opinion that local businesses that blatantly advertise their personal political opinions may be doing harm to their stores. This is right ON TOPIC since Steve asked:

    “Who killed all of these businesses?
    You. Simply by where you wanted to spend your money.”

    As I said, I try to shop locally (when I can afford it because, as Steve said, “prices have exceeded what locals can afford”) but when anti-turbine signs litter their premises, it aggravates me. Stores don’t do this in a political campaign but they do it for the already divisive wind energy issue. My opinion is that it’s a bad business plan for enterprises in the County that are already struggling. “The customer is always right” is the best business motto; their business efforts should be focused on their customers not on their personal viewpoints on a County issue.

    Tourists coming into the County to enjoy their holidays, and spend money that keeps our local stores alive (!), DO NOT want to see an in-your-face debate about turbines. This animosity will do more harm to Prince Edward County than any turbines will do, in my opinion.

    Our conversation is neither wrong nor bigoted; it’s merely our opinion on the subject of shopping locally.

  11. Marnie says:

    It’s not all about wind. Comments that have nothing to do with wind are being interpreted as pro or ante wind. Time for this to blow over. Can’t the windies for and against see that the animosity sparked by these posts is dividing our community? It’s almost as if the wind debate is providing an excuse for people to snipe at each other using green energy and protection of the environment as excuses for being plain nasty to one another. Frankly it blows.

  12. Paul Cole says:

    Well hell lets all forget about Mythology 101 the Article that Mr.Campbell took his time to write.Its way more important for you I guess “AntiWind” folks to impose your oppinions on us about the dangers and pittfalls of windmills.Thread officially ambushed, kidding, maybe but ya ambushed.

  13. David Norman says:

    It is the Government of Ontario that in this case is “dictating” what “neighbors” can put on their property without municipal government or neighboring property owners having legal or democratic rights of protest. There are many parallels with the CAS situation… both arising from dictatorial control and a lack of accountability. The violence referred to is symptomatic of these aristocratic pretensions. It seems there is no lack of folk who feel they can dictate to others what they must accept simply because they feel some sense of ego entitlement.

  14. Paul Cole says:

    Not when your off topic Doris..

  15. Paul Cole says:

    Ken I couldn t agree more with you. There are way more important issues in this County then a few whinners loosing money on their property investments.

    And your not bigoted in your oppinions Mr.Norman ? obviously because you can spell the big words right..

  16. Doris Lane says:

    Rude Paul–“Put UP or shut up”
    This is a democracy and everyone has the.
    right to voice his or her opinion
    Have you heard what people in other parts of Ontaro are saying–there have been family homes destroyed and peoples livelihood is gone all because of GREED by some people who do not see the clear picture. Go to Wolfe Island and see how the people there feel
    remember we are just caretakers in this world and we are not suppose to leave a big footprint . We must care for the planet, each other and all living things. It does not pay to be rude and have little feelings for people who have genuine concerns
    don’t snip at each other–be good neighbours

  17. Ken Globe says:

    Wow, it took 11 posts for the zealots to start posting about the IWT’s. Ever get the feeling that you are beating a dead horse? You have many former CAS workers convicted of sexually assaulting children on numerous occasions, alcohol fueled murders and manslaughters. And all you can bitch about is the fact that you bought property in the south end of the county on speculation that it will eventually go through the roof value-wise, and now it might not work out for you. I’m personally at a point where I couldn’t give a rats ass whether these things go in or not. But I really hate people who move to a rural location, and feel entitled to dictate what their neighbor can or can’t put on their property. If you don’t want one of these windmills going up beside you, buy the damn property from the landowner. Put up or shut up!

  18. David Norman says:

    virginia and Paul… one of the pronounced characterizations of bigotry is intolerance, particularly dictatorial… you “presume”, based on your intolerance, to dictate to others their commentary!

  19. virginia says:

    MYOB Mr. Norman.

  20. Paul Cole says:

    As sad as some of the opinions expressed are whether bigoted or from an incorrigible bigot, Windmills are off topic go argue in another thread pertaining to your particular realm of bigotry.

  21. Doris Lane says:

    The conversation about where we should shop being based on whether the owner is red,blue,green or orange or ProIWT or anti-IWT is wrong
    If I neeed milk I go to a store that sells the brand of milk I like. I do not stop to think about a political connection infact I do not know the afflication of Sobeys,Metro,or No Frills and furthermore I do not care
    What I do care about is what happens to our County and the people who live here. We must protect our citizens from destructive operations. We must respect our neighbours and their right to live a peaceful and content life.

  22. David Norman says:

    virginia… you stated previously “I would like to add one thought—I do not care to shop at businesses that are promoting a political agenda. This is not what they’re there for, in my view.
    Consequently, I avoid them, and choose another.” There was no “presumption” by Chris. And it does not surprise me that you would would share the same bigoted attitude as Donna. Choose your words more carefully!

  23. Mark says:

    If city people coming to the County are offended by the fact many locals including store owners have very good reasons for opposing Industrial Wind Turbines perhaps they should stand tall and fight to have them installed along the Toronto lakeshore. Wonder how they would like them then. Hmmmm. To say store owners should have no say in such a huge environmental, health and property value issue is ridiculous. They pay big taxes and have every right. They also know where the majority opinion lies.

  24. virginia says:

    thank you, Donna. Paul, absolutely agree.
    Chris, don’t presume.

  25. Paul Cole says:

    I suppose alot of this windmill stuff belongs in a Mythology thread anyways..

  26. Doris Lane says:

    Gary you have covered all the points. There was a letter to the editor in one of the papers that said that only 20 properties are leased to White Pines and some of those are absentee landlords. I was told once that big name people are buying up land to rent to IWT companies of course they would not be living here.

    More and more people are beginning to understand that IWt’s are not good for THE COUNTY

  27. Paul Cole says:

    Another discussion invaded by wind mill hot air.You folks dream about those things don t ya.

  28. Chris Keen says:

    Donna and Virginia, will, of course, shop at any store that happens to be pro-IWT.

  29. Marnie says:

    Store owners have a right to their opinions. We have the right to decide if we will patronize their shops. I can’t see the point of boycotting a store just because the owner has a point of view on a particular issue that happens to differ from mine. Store owners may actually pick up business from those who support their stand.

  30. Gary Mooney says:

    Astute business owners will consider the big picture and support development that is in the long-term interests of the community while opposing development that is not. Successful businesses haven’t achieved their success by ignoring important issues.

    Large-scale, uncontrolled wind turbine deployment here in the County will ruin our “quality of place” image and lead to much-reduced tourism, fewer retirees and near-retirees moving here and building / renovating and fewer entrepreneurs wanting to balance work and lifestyle establishing businesses here.

    Three years ago, business owners might have been reticent to take a stand against wind turbines for fear of alienating the majority of residents. Now these same businesses will take a stand in order to support the large majority of residents who do oppose wind tubines here. Remember 76% NO vs 18% YES in the CountyLive poll?

  31. Donna says:

    Virgina said: “I would like to add one thought—I do not care to shop at businesses that are promoting a political agenda. This is not what they’re there for, in my view. Consequently, I avoid them, and choose another.”

    I totally agree! While I try to support County stores as much as my budget allows, businesses who now post ‘anti-wind turbine’ signs do NOT get my business NOR that of my friends and family from the city. It is unwise and short-sighted to mix business with personal political views.

  32. That’s it! Enough of this “County BS!I’m moving to Marlbank~heard they is accepting anyone around there. Besides they have a portal,a clean clear lake filled with immortal life giving & facial improving marl,UFO’s dropping by regularily, highly charged uranium rocks for healing arthitis just by lying on for an hour~ need I say more. Well I could say more but will leave some juicy tidbits for another time.

  33. Paul Cole says:

    Fact is alot of folks who live in The County work in surrounding areas Belleville ,Napanee and Kingston and commute to work.Seems to me to be reasonable to think most folks stop and pick up things on their way home what with store hours in The County. Only place open after 6pm was and is Giant Tiger. I remember my Mom taking me to Lipsons to buy jeans for school when I was a kid those squeaky hard wood floors the service was excellent and even as I grew older they always remembered my name and asked about my parents, I miss that place…

  34. Peter says:

    Great article Steve! If you do not support local business, they will eventually close. I find it amazing the amount of people who say ” I can get it cheaper in Belleville “. None of them consider the travel time and fuel costs of getting there. The largest group of these people are people who own businesses here in The County. A little bit of time management will get you anything you wish, but it might take a couple of days for it to arrive. You want people to support your business, support others that are local.

  35. Dave Hill says:

    If you can’t get it in The County—It’s nor worth having

  36. Marnie says:

    Beth, I tried to shop at Stedman’s but they appear to sell broken lines in many of their Alia clothes. I was unable to buy jeans there in my size, although I made several visits to the store. I am happy to buy clothes there but cannot often find my size (which is average).

    Lipson’s and Masons’ did not close because the locals failed to support them. The proprietors in both cases became ill and passed away and the businesses were folded down. Lipson’s closed in 2004 and I have the souvenir pen to prove it so if you were here ten years ago so was the store. I guess you never bothered to support it.

    When you are mentioning family restaurants don’t forget Bailey’s. A lot of times the food there is much the same that is served in some of our “better” restaurants but for a lot less money.

  37. Beth says:

    So Marnie, when was the last time you went into Stedmans to look at the clothes there? Quality, affordable Women’s clothing and if enough people bought from there I am sure a large stock would be brought in. Can you tell me how long Masons and Lipsons have been closed? I have lived in the County for over 10 years and I don’t recall them ever being open.

    Places like that closed because people went to other cities and they don’t get re-opened because of the same reason. Oh, another great place to eat is the Acoustic Grill or Coach’s or Sandbanks Bar and Grill………

  38. virginia says:

    I don’t always agree with you Steve, but did find a lot to nod yes to in this column. Whiners have never been my favourite people, and there is a lot of whining on countylive!
    I would like to add one thought—I do not care to shop at businesses that are promoting a political agenda. This is not what they’re there for, in my view.
    Consequently, I avoid them, and choose another.

  39. Marnie says:

    I like to shop in the county whenever I can, but there are many items that cannot be found locally. There are either cheap goods that will last long or expensive clothing that is not geared to the average person’s budget. For some merchandise Belleville is the only choice. The closure of Lipson’s and Mason’s department stores was a big loss here.

  40. Ken Globe says:

    Great column Steve!!!

  41. Beth says:

    It is quite remarkable how little shopping I do in Belleville. There is very little there I can’t get in The County, at reasonable prices.

  42. Jason says:

    Good article, as always Steve. I agree with your sentiments and just wanted to mention a trend I have noticed over the last decade or so. I was born here and now live in Bloomfield so I’ve seen what’s changed in the County, some of it positive and some of it negative. When I was in high school the vast majority of my classmates peeled out of here upon graduation on a tide of adventure. Most didn’t come back, I can only think of a few classmates that still live here now. I stayed, slogged it out and got established. Problem was I found myself a member of a very small demographic for awhile….and then the County got “discovered” and eventually young families started moving here and raising families. I don’t care that they aren’t from here, (although some are) I’m just happy that the County is being recognized as a great place to raise kids….also, it gives my kids someone to play with. That, to me, is the most positive thing to come out of the sweeping changes the County has endured.

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