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Moving Up North

Patricia Nagle

Oct 5, 2022

Atikokan, Ontario

About a month ago I made the decision to move up to Atikokan, Ontario to work in the museum. Atikokan is small town about three hours west of Thunder Bay, and when compared to my Southwestern home, is quite a distance. 18-hours North to be exact.

With the museum field there is a lot of freedom when it comes to where you want to work. I was also considering staying close to home in London, Ontario or possibly going out to Nova Scotia. However, I chose Atikokan because I have always wanted to live in Northern Ontario and see the beautiful scenery and wildlife. I just finished school, so now was my chance to explore. It was a hard to decision to make because of the distance, the change of lifestyle and more importantly, being away from all my family and friends I made in Southwestern Ontario.

But let me tell you a little bit about the transition.

Deer on O’Brien Street in Atikokan, taken September 24, 2022 by Patricia Nagle

I got the job at the end of August and had three weeks to get organized and move before I started work. The first thing I did was find accommodation and was very fortunate since my future manager took pictures of possible rental places in the area. I quickly found a beautiful small house within the community.

Next was to prepare my car for the cold winters. I know very little about cars so I had my father help me.

First Step: get a block heater. A block heater is a device that you plug in at night (or whenever your car is sitting for long periods of time) to warm the engine coolant that warms the engine block and oil so your car can start in cold weather.

Second Step: oil! I had to put synthetic oil in my car. I discovered that regular doesn’t work as well in the cold weather.

Third (and final) Step: winter tires. I had to put on my snow tires because the winter comes fast this far north.

As it pertains to food and provisions, I had to consider what would come next. I decided to get non-perishable food. Then I considered what I could bring with me that the northern regions might not have for bathroom and kitchen. Atikokan is a small town with one basic grocery store and may not have what I need.

Next, I had to go out and buy proper winter gear. Thank goodness my younger sister has a discount at a Columbia Outlet. It allowed me to get good quality gear!

Lynn (Patricia’s Mom) and Patricia standing in front of the Atikokan Centennial Museum, taken on September 30, 2022 by Mike Nagle

The last thing I did was say my good-byes. I spent my last few weeks in Southwestern Ontario visiting friends and family. I travelled to Palmerston, Windsor and Barrie to see them all. This was the hardest part. These visits often ended in tears that would continue in my car on the way home.

I’ve now been in Atikokan about two weeks. Despite the bumpy roads, the shift has been good. My parents also came the first week and helped me settle in.

The people here have been quite welcoming and willing to help me transition. My co-workers have been recommending clubs I should join and activities I could participate in. One person has even invited me to their Thanksgiving knowing I’ll be celebrating alone this year.

It was a stressful and emotional journey to get to Atikokan, but I’m glad I did it. I can’t wait to see what else Northern Ontario has in store.

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