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COLUMN: Familiarity only comes with time

Arrive anywhere and everything seems foreign, but little by little you start to get your bearings.
Deer are a familiar sight in Okotoks, including on sidewalks and pathways.

How long does it take to feel at home in a new town? I don’t imagine there’s a definitive answer to that one as it’s likely up to each individual, but in my case, I peg it around two years, which, coincidentally enough, is the amount of time I’ve been in Okotoks. 

Given I was in Greater Vancouver for 50 years, the last 30 of which were spent living and working in the same suburb, it’s going to take a whole lot longer to feel that degree of comfort anywhere else, but at least I’ve got to the point now where I don’t feel new anymore. 

Arrive anywhere and everything seems foreign, but little by little you get your bearings, although there are constant reminders that as familiar as you think you might be getting, you actually know very little about your new hometown and all its history. 

A couple of months back I saw that a ‘Leased’ sign went up in front of the building at the corner of Southridge Drive and Woodgate Road, so I asked one of our reporters to find out the identity of the tenant, figuring readers are always interested when something new comes to town. 

As it turned out, the tenant wasn’t really new as it’s since become the second home for Foothills Advocacy in Motion. To be honest, I was hoping for another restaurant, but I can’t begrudge a valued service provider securing the digs it so desperately needed. I knew FAIM had been searching for more space for over a year, but what I didn't know is the non-profit's new home once served as the town’s police station. I’m sure many did. 

Back where I was from in B.C., I knew the police station had expanded into the old courthouse next door after the courts had moved into the old municipal hall down the block. I also knew the courthouse was subsequently closed by the provincial government and the building it left behind eventually became home to the museum, which up until that point had been located in the very first municipal hall, which incidentally was also the first police station as well as the morgue. 

Stick around anywhere long enough and you can’t help but get to know the lay of the land, but arrive more recently and there’s just so much you don’t know. I have come to accept that I’ll never have the breadth of knowledge I had of my previous hometown, but I’m proud to say I’ve picked up a few things along the way over the past couple of years.  

I have learned there’s no need to veer off the path simply because a deer is grazing nearby, that there’s nothing to gain by hitting driver on No. 7 at Crystal Ridge Golf Club and that you’re best not to put away the winter jacket even though it’s the first week of May. 

I’m not sure how beneficial such observations are to my role as a newspaper editor, but at the very least they’re helping me feel more comfortable in my new hometown. 

Ted Murphy

About the Author: Ted Murphy

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