For the first 55 years of my life I lived in Victoria. Still, even as I grew up in paradise I soon became aware of a particular phenomenon that annoys me greatly. The refugees who crowd across the straits in their tens of thousands are hardly unpacked before they are writing letters to the editor complaining about something they had where they came from, and staging public meetings to demand we get it for them. Worse yet, they don’t like something we do and want us to stop.
The developers built a thousand harbour view condos that were immediately filled with people complaining about the noise and exhaust from ferries and seaplanes. They built subdivisions in the country full of people who objected to the bovine aroma emanating from the dairies. Swarms of would be entrepreneurs crawled ashore and demanded to sell their wares in Beacon Hill Park , regardless of our rules and custom. They arrived, caught their breath, took a look at our homes and lifestyles and said, “That will have to go!”
Eventually that included me. The Victoria I grew up in has been improved until I feel infinitely more comfortable in the Cowichan, but even after 10 years I am aware that I am very much a newcomer. The natives have welcomed me and I intend to be a good guest. I will not, for example, demand that they accommodate me and stop backyard burning. It would be impertinent of me, wouldn’t it? I knew when I moved here that the rural culture included more smoke than mirrors.