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The East Coast has a reputation of being friendly, and it’s no wonder. It’s full of good neighbours.
Well-known film producer Mary Sexton lives on Monk Lane near Power and Pleasant Streets in St. John’s, NL. She’s been living in the downtown area for decades.
From her family doctor to her eye specialist; from her hairdresser to the local convenience store or larger pharmacy, most amenities are within walking distance in Sexton’s close-knit community.
“This is a great little neighbourhood. We have a lot of good people here. Everyone seems to watch out for others … it’s a great walking area,” she says.
And the neighbours are always quick to step in and offer help. When her husband, Nigel Markham, was away, her neighbours were quick to step in and offer to help shovel.
“If I’m sick or in the house not doing well, I’ve got at least ten people I can call in my neighbourhood, and they know they can call me, too,” Sexton said.
When a severe snowstorm, known as Snowmageddon, struck in early 2020, Sexton was quick to invite a few neighbours into her home for a warm-up and a hot meal.
The kindness of those living in the neighbourhood has been especially evident since the COVID-19 pandemic, with the sharing of both food and positivity, albeit from a distance.
“I can’t make a small pot of soup, so I’ll share it with the neighbours. We are all very careful during COVID. We just leave it on each other’s stoop … and between us all, we chip in and try to keep each other’s morale up.”
When it comes to good neighbours, Sexton also recalled how kindhearted the neighbours on Ennis Avenue in St. John’s were to her family when her mother, Sara Sexton, died in February. The Sexton family had been living on the street for over half-a-century.
“Those neighbours were so good to all of us when Mom passed away,” Sexton said.
Darren Freeman is a photographer and musician who lives in Musgrave Harbour, on the North East coast of Newfoundland.
From sandy beaches to beautiful walking trails, from spectacular sunrises to colourful wildflowers, the community is a photographer’s paradise and one where Freeman has no doubt found his niche.
Originally from Norris Arm, N.L., Freeman spent many years making a living as a musician in Ontario before moving back to his home province.
He settled Musgrave Harbour about 10 years ago.
For Freeman, living in a small community erases the anonymity afforded those living in larger cities, particularly where social media is concerned; however, he has nothing but kind words to say about the people of Musgrave Harbour.
Whether repairing a neighbour’s roof, sharing a codfish or some just-pulled-from-the ground vegetables, people are there for one another, he said.
“You won’t find better people then around here. It’s a beautiful spot to live.”
East Coast difference
Jennifer Percy and her husband, Adam, moved from Ontario to Amherst, N.S. in March 2019.
Percy is a stay-at-home parent to the couple’s three children, aged eight and under.
While the move was a result of her husband’s work relocation, Percy said, they were looking forward to a slower lifestyle.
“We were getting worn out from the go-go lifestyle in Ontario and wanted to move out here for a slower way of life and the values of small-town Nova Scotia (and the) Maritimes,” she said.
The people in the community are helpful, she said, and are there to lend a hand if needed.
“My neighbours, generally, keep to themselves but they are always cordial ... My neighbour a few doors down plows where the bus picks my kids up. That’s really sweet of him to do that.”
The children have adjusted well and love their new community, she said. They have a lot more freedom than they did living in a big city.
Although both she and her husband grew up in Ontario, where their family and friends still live, she says they both feel most at home in Nova Scotia.
“Our family structure has grown closer and we find more joy in the slow pace and the little things in life,” she said.
People helping people
Marj Montgomery lives in a small rural community called Union Corner, P.E.I. When the old schoolhouse was built back in the late 1800s, Montgomery said the people in the community came together to make it happen.
“They built a schoolhouse, they built a church, they all worked together even back then.”
That sense of community and helping your neighbour remains strong in the community today, she says.
“Some of the ancestors are still here, but new people have moved in and it’s still people helping people.”
Montgomery’s ancestors were among the first settlers to Union Corner. Her family has been living there for almost three decades, having restored the old homestead that was built over 150 years ago.
Those living in the community keep abreast of what’s happening through a Facebook page called Union Corner Kind, where residents share information and reach out for a little help when needed. That could cover anything from helping pour the foundation for a new home to sharing some fresh vegetables to keeping an eye out for a wandering dog.
“We’re not in each other’s face but we all keep an eye on each other … we’re all in this together,” Montgomery said.
Did you know?
Held annually on Sept. 28, Good Neighbour Day recognizes and celebrates the importance of good neighbours and their contributions to their communities.