You Know You’re Living in Small-Town Ontario When…

Snowmobiles pull up to service stations to gas up, showering sparks all over the pavement.

The word “youse” is considered an acceptable pronoun.

It’s pretty much impossible to find a contractor or tradesman during the month of November, because they’re all off to Deer Camp.

Poutine with meat is considered haute cuisine.

To outsiders, your town is known mainly for the Tim Horton’s on the highway.

The same Tim Horton’s will routinely run out of donuts.

It’s not unusual to drive 100 km without seeing a traffic light.

The local-yokel radio station plays bingo.   Live, on the air.   Winners  phone in their winning cards.

The DJ at the same local-yokel radio station knows his callers on a first-name basis.

The main grocery store buys out the only other food store in town, and shuts it down to eliminate the competition.

The plant installs a revolving door in their newest building, and it causes confusion with some people who’ve obviously never had to use one.

Two different people who’ve never met will try to set you up with the same single woman.

The only sales help you can get are clueless, sullen 17-year-olds.

You better fill up with gas by 10:00 PM, or you’re going nowhere.

They finally tear down the old Canadian Tire and build a brand new store, but they neglect to install automatic electric doors.    Have fun trying to maneuver your 500-lb. trolley full of garden soil outside.

Gas-station restrooms all consist of circa 1968 wood paneling, and are freezing inside.

Bears shit in your back yard.

Baseball caps are the height of men’s fashion.

A beer gut isn’t something to be ashamed of.   In fact, it’s expected.

It’s a 45 minute drive to the nearest shopping mall.    And McDonald’s…and movie theater…and functioning laundromat…and real hospital….

When you’re at that mall’s food court, and you try to buy burgers, the A&W informs you that they’re out of meat.

There are only 3 pay-at-the-pump gas stations within a 150-kilometer radius, and you know where they all are.

Every store sells worms.

Apparently, you have the only video store on the planet that displays the  DVD’s chronologically, rather than alphabetically.

The “Pizza Pizza” franchise closes at 9:00 PM on Friday.   Because Lord knows, NOBODY would want to buy a pizza on Friday night.

The local restaurants don’t bother with a soda fountain.   When you order a coke, they give you the can, and charge you $1.25.

You write letter to the editor in the local paper, and people are still talking about it 2 years later.

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21 Comments on “You Know You’re Living in Small-Town Ontario When…”

  1. Eyeteaguy Says:

    I wasn’t going to comment first but….what the hell.


  2. Friar Says:

    Geez, you must be waiting at your computer, 24/7, waiting to pounce on the comment button the minute I post something.

  3. Brett Legree Says:

    He’s the “Eyeteaguy”, he’s obviously written a script that monitors your blog and posts some random blah blah blah… probably using that *evil* operating system, what’s it called, oh yeah, Line-Ux 🙂

  4. Brett Legree Says:

    You should do a follow up to this, “You know you grew up in Small-Town Ontario, when some of your best memories of high-school include skipping out of class on Friday afternoons to go skeet shooting…”

    (Or drive old unlicensed cars through the bush at high speeds… or things like that… not that I would know about any of that…)

  5. Kyddryn Says:

    You aren’t kidding about the bingo, are you? I am so moving…umm…which direction is Ontario from Redneck Central??

    Shade and Sweetwater,

  6. Friar Says:

    Ooh, goody. Eyeteaguy is my first internet stalker.

    PS. Somehow, I suspected you weren’t as wholesome and clean-cut as you are now.


    Sadly, I’m NOT kidding about the bingo.

    In fact, it was on the radio last night, during my 45 minute drive back from the mall. Which helped inspire this post!

    Doesn’t matter where you are in Ontario. As long as you’re north of Huntsville, all towns are pretty much like this.

  7. Steph Says:

    Ohgodohgodohgod…I’m having a panic attack reading this. I grew up in a small town and I’m still in one.

    If one more person says “youse” to me, or “alls you gotta do” I’m going to…I don’t know what I’m going to do. Freak out.

  8. Steph Says:

    Do youse guys have lots of nutters there? We do. It seems to come with these towns.

  9. Kate Says:

    Sounds like a pretty cool place. 🙂
    Is that where the Arrogant Worms come from? Just asking, ‘cos they did a song…
    Went through Ontario in a train in late October, it looked nice, lots of lakes and the leaves all turning yellow and red.

  10. XUP Says:

    The only sales help you can get in the big city are also clueless, sullen 17-year-olds. And when you go to the currency exchange place to buy some foreign currency the clueless 17-year old tells you they’re out of money!

  11. Friar Says:


    I hate to tell you this, but where you live, we consider that a “Big City”.

    (Though it is still a hick-town, by normal standards).

    We got nutters too. Except they’re called other names around here. (Not printable on this blog!)

    Yes, the Arrogant Worms are from here. If you search “Ontario Sucks” on Youtube, you’ll get a flavor of this place.

    You muset have been going through the Southern part of Ontario, to still see yellow and red in late October. Usually, by that time, the leaves are finished in most of the province.

    Hmm…sounds like a transplant from the Splat Creek Valley.

    Running out of money at a money exchange….sigh. Why does that NOT surprise me?

  12. Karen JL Says:

    That DVD store still cracks me up. It defies logic.

    And yes, the clueless sullen 17-year olds are everywhere. They work at places like Office Depot in the big city.

  13. Friar Says:


    I’ve given up…it’s got to the point that I don’t question things like the DVD store anymore.

    If I do…it tends to keep me awake at night.

  14. alison Says:

    We don’t have bingo on the radio here in Carp, but we do have drive-in bingo on Wednesday nights in July. You either spray on massive doses of bug dope and sit outside the car in a lawn chair, or inside the car mosquito-free. They call the numbers over a loudspeaker and you honk the car horn when you get a bingo. But everyone’s really there for the socializing and the pie. They sell 14 different kinds of pie for $3 a slice.

  15. Friar Says:

    That would be worth showing up to, just for the pie alone!

  16. Hi Friar,

    I feel like I just got a continuation of your tweets. I thoroughly enjoyed this post as it brought back great memories from the U.P. Yeah, the life style is different than the “big city”, but the people (or most of them) will bend over backwards to help each other out. In some ways, I miss that.

  17. Friar Says:


    If you’ve ever seen “Escanaba in da Moonlight” (worth renting, by the way!), it shows a bunch of Yoopers at Deer Camp.

    What’s funny, is that what goes on in the movie is pretty much exactly what goes on over here.

    The Lads in Northeastern Ontario and the U.P. are VERY similar!

  18. Thank you for that Friar,

    I hadn’t heard of the movie, but it does sound like it would be a great one to watch. I’ll definitely check it out.

  19. Friar Says:


    Jeff Daniels stars in it. He might have even produced it I think…

    It’s hard to describe…you just have to see the movie to know what I’m talking about. It’s bizarre, but hilarious!

  20. Friend of the Profound Says:

    A friend of my used to run the hospital in the town you describe in such a stealthly manner. It was a little gem in the middle of nowhere that did the best they could with what they had…and people respected that and the staff that worked there.

    While the town is small and hickish, the family relished their time in the community. Many of their stories echo yours…but you never seem to talk about the Indian restaurant.

    I don’t recall them listening to the local bingo radio station, but I do recall many stories of driving to the mall down the highway, the grocery store, the use of the word ‘you’s’ and the appropriate response (we’s fine, thanks), and all the other unique and Lake Woebegoney-type charm that you don’t find in Toronto.

    You’re still there after so many years at ‘the plant’. Time to settle down and raise a nice family in Pleasantville sooner rather than later!

    Friar’s Mom is probably waiting for grandchildren, eh?

  21. Friar Says:


    I’ve been to hospital several times…Because my family doctor is 2 hours away. I don’t know how long ago your friend ran the hospital, but the jury’s still out with me. I’ve had a few hit-and-miss visits.

    The Indian restaurant has changed management…I haven’t had dinner there for a while…but they make great cardiac breakfasts, which I enjoy every Saturday.

    In terms of settling down…I think Friar’s Mom has long since accepted the fact that I wont’ be giving her any grandkids any time soon! 😉

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