I replied to an East Coast By Choice guest blog entry by someone who went the opposite way from us – she moved from Toronto to Halifax, and hated it for some of the very same reasons I would cite. We tried to fit in for a while, but we’re not big on fitting in…
My comment there is awaiting moderation, but it’s included below;
We moved to Halifax from Vancouver, and were there for about two and a half years before finally fleeing as fast as we could to Toronto. We tried the getting out and meeting people thing, we took part in community events, etc. I did meet some amazing people; mostly from Bangladesh, Australia, Edmonton, PEI, and Newfoundland.
Locals over the age of 25 or so would either start speaking slower when we mentioned that we were From Away or would just walk away after we couldn’t answer their next question “Why did you come HERE?”
I had a number of experiences where I’d introduce myself and say something, only to have everyone freeze, as if they’d been caught in the headlights of a car in the middle of the road at night. I began to think I was socially awkward in some embarrassing way as it happened more and more frequently. They’d freeze while I spoke, then carry on as if nothing had happened. I’ve never seen this sort of behaviour anywhere I’ve been – before or since.
We lived in the same building for the entire time we were in Halifax, and people just didn’t talk to each other in the lobby, the elevator, etc. Even if you asked someone a question directly, you’d be as likely as anything to get the wide eyed stare until you just went away. We’ve been here in Toronto for 8 months and I’ve met and learned peoples’ names in my building’s elevator, and I’ve had conversations with people on transit, and on the street… as a long-time Vancouver resident, I’m really surprised at how friendly Toronto seems compared even to Vancouver.
I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with liking Halifax – I know some sane people who live and work there, both locals and otherwise. Maybe my experience would have been different if we lived up by the commons instead of by Dalhousie, maybe it would have been different 10 years earlier, etc…
I just couldn’t deal with a people who (as a whole) fancied themselves the most openhearted and open minded people in the whole wide world while being so openly divisive, racist and judgmental at the same time.
Even the two scales that people are weighed on; Local or CFA; where people From Away appear to be valued lower by default. I remember when I was at the library on Spring Garden signing up for my card. I heard a woman at the reference desk introduce her new co-worker who had moved to Halifax to a library patron; “This is X, our new Z. She’s From Away, but we’ll keep her anyway!” and then they laughed. Well, two of them laughed, at least.
My anecdotes aren’t all horrible, but they’re the ones that spring easiest to mind.