In the summer of 1968, Carla and I made a decision to come to the North Shore of New Brunswick, specifically Dalhousie. We thought that it would be for a year.
I was fresh out of graduate school and we had very recently become parents. It was time to consider our future together in terms of earning a living and, it seemed, that the stop in Dalhousie would provide a breathing space, a chance to earn a bit of money, while deciding on what we wanted to do next.
Our coming to Dalhousie was purely fortuitous.Earlier that summer I had begun answering advertisements in the Halifax newspapers for teaching positions, and I wrote several. In particular I remember writing one to the Northwest Territories, and another to a private school in Kingston, Jamaica. And, of course, there was the one to Dalhousie, New Brunswick.
Within a week of my mailing those letters, I had a telephone call from a gentleman by the name of Arthur Pinet, who was the Superintendent of Schools for the Dalhousie School District. The rest, as they say, is history. I got the job, we moved up here, again with the intention of staying for a year, possibly two. We are, obviously, still here. furthermore, we have no intention of leaving.
Several factors came together to convince us to stay: I discovered that I thoroughly enjoyed teaching high school, which was a career option that I had not seriously considered previously; we found out that land, particularly in the smaller villages was amazingly cheap, and that we were attracted to a rural lifestyle; and, most importantly, we became enamoured of the sense of community warmth that seems to pervade this place that we now call home.
It began with our neighbours on Renfrew street in Dalhousie and with our new friends on the teaching staff, first at the old Notre Dame School (where I started) and then at Dalhousie Regional High School (where I lasted for twenty-eight years). It continued with more than twenty years of fond memories of our life in Balmoral, where we were welcomed as the only English speaking family at that time in the entire community, and it continues today as we enjoy retirement in Pt. La Nim.
All of this came to the fore recently, at the time of my father's death. The loss of a family member is never easy, but I am certain that the pain is eased immensely by the outpouring of sympathy and help from a community that is small enough to remain intensely personal and caring. The hospital people at Saint Josephs and the congregation of Saint Mary's Anglican Church in Dalhousie were in the forefront in any official sense, but everywhere I turned, friends and acquaintances were there to do what they could, or simply to be there.Members of my family, most of whom are influenced by life in larger communities, were touched and impressed by the care and consideration, not only for Carla and me, but for Dad himself, despite his relatively short stay here.
Trying to find the right words to say "Thank you" is tricky, especially when one is trying to do so to a whole community. Perhaps I can summarize what I am really trying to say by mentioning simply that never has the decision that two young kids took, way back in that summer of 1968, looked better than it has in recent days.