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Gerry Posner

By GERRY POSNER Three years ago, my wife and I made the biggest decision of our lives.

After living all of our married lives in Winnipeg, now forty-eight years, we decided to sell out, retire and move to Toronto. We went from working to not working, from two cars to one car, from a house to an apartment building, to large space to cramped space, and from a small city to an enormous one. These were all major changes and they occurred almost at the same time. The reasons were obvious, three children, eight grandchildren and my siblings all lived in Toronto. Now, three years since our departure for Toronto, my wife and I returned to Winnipeg by automobile for a visit this summer and our conclusion was how sweet it was to be there. We never appreciated Winnipeg more. Why?
Of course, there were the obvious reactions. What a joy it was to walk around town and be recognized by others. In Toronto, one accepts the veil of anonymity. For some people, this might work well, but it is not a lifestyle I value. Wherever we went, from a grocery store to a park, we thrilled in the delight of being called by our first names. I say that you cannot put a price on this kind of experience, but you may not realize it until you do not have it. Just bumping into somebody we knew, however slightly, was a high for me. And of course, connecting with old friends was a big part of our trip back home. You just cannot build a relationship in a new city and have that instant sense of the past when you are at an older age such as we are, now over 70. It is not that they are unfriendly in Toronto, but that their lives seem to be complete without us. In Winnipeg on this visit, I loved that feeling of going into a room and suddenly someone would shout out “Gerry, what are you doing here?” The next question was “how have you adjusted to Toronto?” I had two ready answers that became clear to me now that I was back in Winnipeg. The first was that we absolutely made the right move three years ago when we moved, what with all of the close family living there, but that does not mean I love it. The second response was that the best thing about being in Toronto was that my children and grandchildren were there and the worst thing about being in Toronto was that my children and grandchildren were there. Interestingly enough, all of my age related friends understood both answers and could identify with each.
What immediately was noticeable on our return to Winnipeg was the sheer ease in navigating the streets of the city. Even though Winnipeg, like every other metropolitan city, is under road construction in the summer, we found driving around actually pleasurable in comparison to Toronto. That we did not have to cope with major highways, traffic snarls and cars cutting us off as they moved from lane to lane was comforting. I was aware of the fact that there were almost no horns honking. All of that added up to what I realized the most- the absence of noise. Winnipeg seemed very peaceful and calm compared to the hurly burly of Toronto. Who would not love that kind of tranquility?
When we went to the beach on the August long weekend, as in Winnipeg Beach and Gimli, I was once again reminded of the simplicity of making this kind of excursion. It is but eighty kilometres to Winnipeg Beach and another ten to Gimli. On the busiest weekend of the year in Gimli for the Icelandic Festival known as Islendingadagurinn, the roads were practically deserted even though the Town of Gimli was packed with people. Try returning to Toronto on any weekend on Highway 400 from cottage country and you are in traffic for hours.
We found that even after three years, we just moved around as if we had not left at all. I was astonished at our quick reintegration into Winnipeg life. We did not think about Toronto except to lament that we wished we could not bring our eight grandkids to Winnipeg to get a grasp on the lives we and one of their respective parents had enjoyed for so many years. We want all of our grandchildren (ages three to eleven) to be aware that there is another lifestyle apart from what they have known which will give them a high quality of life in many ways superior to their life in Toronto. Having said all of that, we were both quite excited to come back to our new home in Toronto.

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