Driving to (and from) Wally

hands on the steering wheel of a car on a highway

When I moved from Toronto to London a decade ago, it was a bit like moving to Alaska. I felt far removed from the life I’d known for so long. I missed my colleagues and friends, and found the four-hour round trip was something I was only willing to do for special occasions. That worked the same in reverse, for those who (rarely) came to visit.

Now, having moved from London an hour-and-a-bit further west, it’s like relocating to Mars! We’re in a different county with fewer people and much more elbow room. But it’s also harder for people to come and see us. Still, several have decided to make the trip.

This weekend, despite snow, blowing snow, falling snow and annoying snow, friends Tam and Monique hit the highway and cow-paths and made their way to the town we affectionately call Wally. We took them downtown for lunch and Monique became my unofficial hair-colour consultant. (More on that another time!)

Monique and Tam, leaving for home.

So, what is there to do in Wally? I love our little downtown! It has two second-hand shops, a couple of wonderful home-decor stores, several restaurants – two of which are pub-style, old-wood-and-atmosphere types – and some comic book and collectibles stores. I’m sure we haven’t seen it all, even though it’s only a few blocks long.

Sign shows a dog on its hind legs holding a scoop and a dustpan and it reads: Unless your dog can do this, clean up after it.
Sign in a Wallaceburg shop window.

There’s a massive antiques-and-cool-junk shop just outside of town. And Wally snakes along both sides of the Sydenham River, great for walking along the trails. Plus it’s ten minutes from the St. Clair River and Parkway. We’re twelve minutes to Chatham and twenty-five to Sarnia. The US is a fifteen-minute ferry ride after a five-minute drive to Walpole Island.

We have one radio station, one Chinese restaurant and one small hospital. But we’ve come to appreciate that it’s all a town of less than 12,000 needs.

It isn’t busy and exciting until WAMBO this summer. (Wallaceburg Antique Motor and Boat Outing) WAMBO is a decades-old, free, three-day event that draws thousands. We’ve settled in. This is our home. Maybe one day, people will stop calling our home “the Patterson house” but that’s unlikely, whether we’re here three years or thirty, and that’s okay. We’re not here to change Wally; we’re here for Wally to change us.

6 thoughts on “Driving to (and from) Wally”

  1. This is lovely. I so enjoy reading about your putting down roots (and perhaps hiding them, too – if the hairdresser reference is any indication LOL) – thank you for bringing us along!

  2. Gordon Diver

    Nicely done. It is one of our favourite spots (there’s a fantastic B&B) just outside of town. The museums do a nice job, Fort Walden and of course, some really nice wineries around the bend heading back to Kingsville. Enjoy.

  3. David Gough

    “We’re twelve minutes to Chatham and twenty-five to Sarnia.”
    Damn Lisa, do you drive double the speed limit?

  4. Ok … that last line “we’re not here to change Wally, we’re here for Wally to change us “..
    Made me tear up and that’s when I knew you have made the right choice for you, and for this point in your lives (not that you asked for my opinion, or need my approval .. haha) .. we feel the same way about Panama but I didn’t realize it until I read this .. thank you for including us on this journey.

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