Life satisfaction is strongly influenced by location. People who live in small towns are generally happier than people who live in big cities. People who live next door to the ocean report being happier than those who don’t.
This isn’t just me talking. It’s the results of a life satisfaction survey of more than 1,000 North American adults. I wasn’t a participant in the survey but can certainly confirm the validity of the findings. I grew up living that life in Saint John New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy. I’m a “Bay Boy”.
Saint John isn’t a small town. It’s a city comprised of anchors (pocket communities) that are like bundles of small towns. In my youth those anchors were neighbourhoods the foundation of which were parishes. Your parish was the root source of an active community. You knew everyone and all about everyone in your parish and they knew all about you. Yes, there was gossip and not all gossip was good gossip. However, more importantly your parishioners cared for you and about you. That made you feel good about yourself and those around you. You were happy.
Now for the value add. Saint John is the Bay of Fundy city. Fundy has the most powerful and highest tides in the world with a 50 rise and fall every day. As a boy I got to witness the ebb and flow of those tides every day. You would always know when the tides were rushing in or out because of the wind. And of course, the wind ushered fog in and out. When the fog was in you missed the sun. However, when the sun broke through those clouds you realized just how good it felt to be enveloped in sunlight.
The ocean has a calming presence in between the tidal ebbs and flows. You can feel it in the air. When the tidal flow is changing you can sense the energy. You appreciate that there is a powerful force in the earth that you must respect.
All of this is subliminal which is what makes you happy. You’re having an up close experience with the changing energy of the earth every day.
I decided to move on from Saint John and pursue a professional career as a law professor in Toronto. However, once you experience life on the shores of the Bay of Fundy you’ll always have a yearning to live by the ocean. I did the next best thing by living in downtown Toronto on the shores of Lake Ontario, one of the great lakes. My home was in the renowned village community of St. Lawrence Market; small town living on the edge of an urban megalopolis.
Just like so many east coasters I never forgot my love of small- town active community living on the ocean. When the time was right I came home. No way was I going to miss the opportunity to reconnect with ocean front living in a small town. My wife and I now call historic Saint Andrews by the Sea our home. We could have chosen a number of the small fishing communities strewn along the bay. An increasing number of families of all age ranges fed up with urban congestion and the exorbitant cost of living are opting for affordable small- town active community living in New Brunswick. Pocket stand- alone sea coast communities within an easy commute to Saint John such as Saint Andrews and island life on Deer Island or even Grand Manan, the latter being a world- famous bird migration way station that draws birders from around the world every spring are on the radar screens. For those wanting a unique multi-cultural life experience there’s the Acadian small- town stand- alone pocket communities of Cocagne an easy commute to Moncton and , Tracadie, Caraquet, Shippegan and Lameque on the Northumberland Strait an easy commute to Bathurst.
So much to choose from.
 Charles Montgomery, Happy Cities, Toronto, Doubleday, (2013) at P.35
John G. Kelly
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