Choosing P.G. over Toronto

I'm not going to lie; Prince George is not at all Vancouver, not even close.

From the eyes of an open minded, thirty-something girl from the big city, now suddenly navigating small town B.C., Prince George somehow turned into something much bigger. It became the centre, like a nucleus, like magic.

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The original plan when I moved to Prince George was to stay and help the local office where I worked for several months, after which I was scheduled to move to Toronto to help expand the company. My new Prince George friends protested boldly that Toronto was a travesty. Without really knowing why, I listened and made the decision to stay on in Prince George for the foreseeable future. It just seemed right, but I still had to figure things out quickly. With the change of plans, my pre-arranged accommodation at the Pioneer Inn Apartment ended in short order.

Of course, right away a perfect solution presented itself as an available rental on Seventh Avenue and Vancouver Street. The price for two upstairs rooms of a very old house converted into offices was $100 per month, with my cat Sydney approved.

$100 a month? Unheard of.

There were challenges though. No kitchen, which was really a non-issue for me. Also, I had to shower before the psychologists arrived at work at 8 a.m. weekday mornings, but in reality they could show up at any time, day or night. That was stressful! And finally, regularly turning away very disappointed patients looking for the denturist that used to work in the building.

Life was cozy and convenient but sometimes scary and cold. The walls were thin against winter and downtown Prince George became a ghost town weekdays at about 5 p.m. on cue. This happened on weekends, too. It seemed like after work people had exciting places to go. Cabins on lakes, five acre properties with horses, hiking, fishing, hunting, scuba diving, and the list goes on.

The exodus out of downtown made me feel isolated and alone. Even the very house that Sydney and I had grown to love eventually left downtown after being thrown onto the back of a flatbed truck and driven to Paddlewheel Park to form part of a new development. All that was left on Seventh and Vancouver was a parking lot that remains to this very day.

It was just before my upper room house drove away on me that my dear friend asked me to take her substitute teaching pay sheets to the School District 57 administration office when it was still located on Winnipeg and Ninth Avenue. I was happy to take them over and when I arrived, curiosity got the better of me. I started asking questions. It did not take long for me to mention that I had studied education in Alberta and was certified.

On that very day, I left with a teaching job and a new beginning. Another amazing instance of when Prince George gave me some latitude. Immediately, I started substitute teaching, entertaining students by pretending to be from Texas with my cowgirl Calgary accent. This was really an earnest attempt to keep them in the classroom just until the bell. The good news was that very soon I had enough money for a proper apartment and I impulsively rented a two bedroom suite smack dab in the middle of McIntyre Crescent.

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