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[personal profile] rfmcdonald
I spent most of today in Port Hope, a drive of one hour or one hundred kilometers east of Toronto via Ontario's famous Highway 401. I rather enjoyed this day, walking around the well-maintained brick buildings that dominate the compact downtown (Yahoo, Google Maps) and appreciating the fact that Port Hope lies well outside of the Greater Toronto Area's heat island.

With perhaps sixteen thousand inhabitants, Port Hope is comparable in size to Prince Edward Island's City of Summerside. It differs in most other details. Summerside's old buildings, for instance, are built not out of the unsuitable local sandstone or of inordinately expensive and necessarily imported brick, but rather out of wood. Port Hope, too, is immensely richer than Summerside, in part reflecting Port Hope's fortunate inclusion in the single wealthiest province in the Canadian confederation, but also because Port Hope has managed to find a niche in Ontario's tourist economy. As Garnet Clayton's complete Port Hope History site makes clear, although Port Hope was only the seventh community in Ontario to be granted the status of a town and prospered industrially up to the time of Confederation in 1867, thereafter it underwent a prolonged period of relative decline that left this community and its neighbours permanently in Toronto's shadow. Somewhat like the incorporated village of Victoria by the Sea of Prince Edward Island, bypassed by the major highways and spared development and change for generations, Port Hope's inhabitants managed to take their community's lack of change and make it a selling point to nostalgic visitors from larger centres.

Port Hope, I discovered today, has plenty of well-stocked antique shops. It wouldn't be inaccurate to say that Port Hope is where some Ontarians, at least, go to discover Upper Canada.
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