Love thy neighbour

You build community when you build good relationships with your neighbours.

Once again the Ashcroft Heritage Committee organized an excellent event to celebrate this year’s provincial Heritage Week theme: Good Neighbours: Heritage Homes and Neighbourhoods.

It was interesting to listen to the interchange of people who live close to each other. Even though it wasn’t explicitly stated, you could get a sense of what they valued in a neighbour/hood.

I grew up in a “heritage” home myself back in southern Ontario. Except, we didn’t call them heritage. We called them old.

Basement and two stories, big covered front porch, plaster and lathe walls, lots of windows, no insulation. In the summer, we’d bake; in the winter I went to bed wearing my socks.

Did we know our neighbours in a city of 200,000? Of course we did. We knew or knew of just about everyone in our block and the next block down where we went to church and school.

In the winter, my father would build an ice rink in our large backyard and invite all of the neighbourhood kids to use it; in the summer time, he’d get us out there playing baseball and again, invite all of the kids from around the block to come. Our neighbours across the alley had a built-in swimming pool that we all used to swim in.

I first noticed a change when the first apartment building went in, right where the old neighbourhood grocery store used to be. I knew the owners of the grocery store, but I didn’t know anyone in the apartment building. And the people who hung around there were sort of creepy anyway.

One by one, the beautiful old homes in the neighbourhood disappeared and were replaced by faceless apartment buildings. Old friends moved away and were never replaced. There were no neighbours left in the neighbourhood.

Never underestimate the value of good neighbours. It’s one of the things that I love most about my home in Cache Creek. And I see it here in Ashcroft as well.

A good neighbourhood is made up by people who go out of their way to know their neighbours and build good relations.

That’s the key to community.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal