Not in My Back Forty

The other day a Facebook friend shared one of those nasty “Stop Foreign Aid; Keep it all for Canadians,” posts. I’ve stopped being polite. My reaction was not pleasant.

And now it’s started in rural Canada. Friends of mine have owned a second home in Seton Portage for the last 40 years or more. When isolation became the norm, of course, they went there.

But now the regional district has been sending letters to people who are not permanent residents, basically stating “we don’t want you here.” News reports from Ontario give a similar scenario. People with recreational properties are not welcome to isolate themselves in Cottage Country.

The two arguments apply: visitors may bring the virus, and if there is an outbreak, local hospitals won’t be able to cope. Both of these could be true.

What’s Best?

But looking at this from a national perspective, what’s best for Canada? Well, the whole point of rural living is that you’re separated from your neighbors. You have privacy and solitude. You also can’t make a living unless all those Summer People show up and spend huge amounts of money on entertainment, food, services and building supplies and, let us not forget, property taxes.

But now it’s inconvenient to have them using their personal property, so it’s, “Come back when we want you.”

Very Un-Canadian.

In this time of crisis, the best thing for Canada is to spread the population more evenly across the country. Areas that are used to influxes of visitors at certain times of the year are best suited for this situation. Hospitals are set up and staffed on that basis. Stores have the capacity to handle the increased population. The fact that these people own their property and have every right to stay there is immaterial.

The Bottom Line

Wherever you are, if you can do anything to make things better for other Canadians, please do so. Use your brains and energy thinking up ways to make this work, instead of finding ways to make it more difficult for others. Wash your hands, stay isolated, and keep your social distance from friends, neighbours and Summer People alike. And open your heart to those less fortunate than you. And if you want to be a bit smug about how all those city folks are finding out the real advantages of rural living, well, you can be forgiven that small indulgence.


Isolation can lead to tribalism and “us against them” selfishness. Do we only act with Canadian cooperation, inclusiveness and selflessness when it suits us?

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