Bay Roberts should have 'scored some more'

Peter
Peter Jackson
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Last week, MoneySense magazine released one of those fun rankings that everyone loves to read and no one should ever take seriously. In its survey of 179 communities across Canada, the magazine placed Bay Roberts dead last in its list of best places to live.

Now, Bay Roberts is not exactly Shangri-la.

It's not a major artistic centre or a treasure trove of fine architecture. And it's definitely not an economic powerhouse.

Last week, MoneySense magazine released one of those fun rankings that everyone loves to read and no one should ever take seriously. In its survey of 179 communities across Canada, the magazine placed Bay Roberts dead last in its list of best places to live.

Now, Bay Roberts is not exactly Shangri-la.

It's not a major artistic centre or a treasure trove of fine architecture. And it's definitely not an economic powerhouse.

But to those who live in the area, it is certainly much more than an abstract construct of population growth, average household income and "culture" indicators. It is not just a co-ordinate on some featureless grid of statistics. It has a context - geographical, historical and political.

Bay Roberts is a supply centre situated in the middle of a string of picturesque inlets and harbours along Conception Bay North, including Cupids, Brigus, Spaniard's Bay, Harbour Grace and Carbonear.

The historic and scenic appeal of these places can hardly be overlooked. Brigus was the birthplace of such prominent sea captains as Arctic explorer Bob Bartlett. Spaniard's Bay has the magnificent Holy Redeemer Anglican Church perched on a crest above the main road.

My grandmother grew up in nearby Clarke's Beach, at the base of Vinegar Hill. You could hardly imagine a more beautiful spot, full of scenic slopes and ocean vistas, with plenty of wooded areas and swimming holes and bountiful blueberry patches.

As a child, my parents took me and my siblings to Clarke's Beach many times to visit a close friend, to go berrypicking in Cupids and to retrace family footprints.

Decades before I was born, my great aunt had torn down the old homestead and built a unique Dutch-style house with a tall, peaked roof.

It has served as a sort of landmark to drivers as they loop around the hill and head across to Bay Roberts.

When I was a child, there was an inn in Harbour Grace that served the "best" turkey soup around. I vaguely remember sampling a bowl of the house specialty. I'm told the proprietor, another older relative of ours, would boast about how vigilant she was in keeping the riff-raff at bay, as if the dusty old establishment was some sort of posh hotel.

I can't remember whether the SS Kyle was in the harbour then or not, but it's certainly been a landmark there since 1967, when it ran aground during a routine passenger stop.

In its centuries-old history, the Bay Roberts area has been a refuge for pirates and a battleground against marauding French troops. Carbonear Island, off the town of Carbonear, was in fact the last, successful bastion of English settlers against the French invasion of 1697 led by Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville.

The area has been a breeding ground for many of the province's luminaries and celebrities, from clergymen and explorers to politicians and musicians. Its rich and colourful heritage rivals any other area of the province.

And in recent years, the region has welcomed several new settlers from this province and beyond, looking for a scenic, relaxing place to live out their retirement within a short drive to the capital city.

Without acknowledging any of this, no amount of statistical analysis could ever offer a true picture of life in Bay Roberts.

But rankings are fun, so just make sure you take them with a grain of salt. And whatever you do, don't make life-altering decisions based on an arbitrary list.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram's commentary editor. He can be contacted by e-mail at pjackson@thetelegram.com.

Organizations: MoneySense magazine, Holy Redeemer Anglican Church

Geographic location: Bay Roberts, Carbonear, Canada Arctic Vinegar Hill

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Recent comments

  • Jordan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:30

    This is exactly what MoneySense wanted to accumulate - controversy. They're profiting more than ever from publicity and hits from everyone talking about their unimportant pointless ratings .

  • Observer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Are there only 179 communities in Canada ? What would number 180 be like ? I bet number 178 was a 30 year old slum-nothing town north of Toronto serving only as a bathroom rest stop for travelers on their way to Collingwood. These people at that rag MoneySense aren't even qualified to pull up their own pants.

  • Jordan
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    This is exactly what MoneySense wanted to accumulate - controversy. They're profiting more than ever from publicity and hits from everyone talking about their unimportant pointless ratings .

  • Observer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:04

    Are there only 179 communities in Canada ? What would number 180 be like ? I bet number 178 was a 30 year old slum-nothing town north of Toronto serving only as a bathroom rest stop for travelers on their way to Collingwood. These people at that rag MoneySense aren't even qualified to pull up their own pants.