A lot can happen to a city or town in 35 years. Take Toronto — in 1982 the city still sported nicknames like “Toronto the Good” and “Hog Town.” Visitors from New York and Montreal had another word for it: “Boring.”
Several decades (and several million more people) later, Toronto has transformed into one of the world’s most vibrant and diverse cities.
But this story isn’t about Toronto. It is about a town in Northern Ontario, Kapuskasing, located a good 10-hour drive (about 800 kilometres) away. It is about the fact that even in an age of global warming, life in Canada north of 45 degrees latitude (49.4, to be exact) can be precarious.
I visited Kapuskasing recently for the first time. My only previous exposure to the town was its name, from the play “Dry Lips Oughta to Move to Kapuskasing,” by renowned playwright Tomson Highway.
My travelling companion, Karen Shigeishi, had last been there 35 years ago. She had arrived in 1980 as a newly minted, University of Toronto-trained chemical engineer. Her employer was Kimberly-Clark, the mammoth paper products company who operated a pulp and paper mill, Spruce Falls, in partnership with the New York Times.