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Canada Day #16: Port Hope Ontario

Updated: Apr 30, 2022

We continue our Chronicles of Crossing Canada. Welcome back!

It was a beautiful, sunny day to drive from Samuel Champlain Provincial Park to Port Hope through Dorset, Lindsay, Bailieboro, and Welcome.

Lookoff Sudbury, (2022) Jaime Lee Lightle

Jim writing…..

It was a beautiful, sunny day to drive from Samuel Champlain Provincial Park to Port Hope through Dorset, Lindsay, Bailieboro, and Welcome. In Bailieboro I passed my grandparents’ old farm. The house was no longer there. This took me by surprise. The last time I was here, it was still standing. I thought that one day someone would move into the old house and fill it with the love it once held. This was not so. Then I pictured every Christmas and Thanksgiving laying in a pile of rubble. I spent my childhood playing in the barns, in the fields and by Squirrel Creek. I must admit it hurt to see it like that.

Welcome, Ontario. Photo credit: James Lightle

In Welcome we stopped off at the graves of my late Grandma and Grandpa and my friend Jeremey Reesor to leave enough money so they could buy themselves an ice cream cone in the sweet hereafter. I miss them all a lot, they all impacted my life in a positive way.

Lightle home, Port Hope Ontario. Photo credit: James Lightle

We passed our old house that I grew up in. It was still standing, but not maintained to the standards that my father took care of it. It was weird to see the house your parents owned for 39 years and not be able to stop in. Jaime took a picture with my phone as we drove past.

Honouring a Tradition. There is this old tradition that if someone gives you a knife, you must give a coin in return so that the friendship will not be broken. What my wife will say is a knife obsession started 39 years ago when my uncle Dave gave me a knife for being a ring bearer at his wedding.

The symbolism of the knife: According to tradition, this powerful object should not be given as a gift. On the one hand, the gift giver loses their power, and on the other hand, the knife's blade supposedly cuts the ties between the gift giver and the gift's receiver. This could be a bond of friendship, a parental bond, or a romantic relationship... So giving somebody a knife is the same as wanting to separate yourself from that person.
The symbolism of the coin: The coin is a solid, metal object that enables you to ward off the bad luck associated with knife giving. It can just be a couple of pennies – the most important thing is to give the other person a coin, no matter what its value. This means the knife is considered as bought and not received freely, like a gift. The bond uniting two people isn't cut that way, and power isn't given away without compensation. Source:

Shortly after arriving at their home on a quiet corner in the east end of Port Hope, I hugged my Uncle Dave, and Aunt Vivian like I was making up for lost time. The last time we saw them was at my Grandmother Lightle’s funereal eight years ago. I had to find the right coin to give him, so I searched the truck and found a nickel with the date of 2006 on it. I thought it only fitting that the year I was blown up in Afghanistan (and the year of my second chance at life started), was the date on the coin that I gave to my uncle Dave. So, this knife-coin exchange was 39 years in the making and a reminder that life is an amazing Journey.

James, Uncle Dave, Aunt Vivian. Photo credit: James Lightle

Righting a Wrong. We all have moments that we would love to take back. For my whole life, I have been the younger brother. When people would challenge and test my older brother’s strength and inevitably fail, they would redirect their energy towards me like a little brother consolation. In high school we got into wrestling which gave me the confidence to handle myself a lot more efficiently. At a certain point I was tired of fighting this dynamic, so I decided in my young wisdom to “show no mercy” to those who tried to instigate violence towards me. In my youth, I regrettably took this attitude towards anyone – even family elders. At Thanksgiving when I was 16 years old, I head and armed my uncle. What was I thinking? Time to say sorry and admit that I was young, dumb, and wrong.

My Aunt Sylvia and Jim stopped by and asked us to stop by after our visit with uncle Dave and Aunt Vivian.

Our next visit was with Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Jim. I didn’t expect to see my cousin Christie, but she showed up with her son Scott. Scott was just a baby the last time I saw him. He was now in Jr High School - time flies by quick. He is smart as a whip and already awake to the woke politics of our current education system, government and media. We think he will make out all right.

Uncle Jim, Aunt Sylvia. Photo credit: James Lightle

I could tell that my Aunt and Jim wanted us to stay the night in their driveway. Next time I thought to myself. I still need to see my best friend from Port Hope, Neal Kloosterhof. It has been a long time since seeing him last. We also wanted to see our God son Eli. I was happy to see that Neal passed on his love of collecting to Eli. Neal has an amazing collection of every toy that came out in the 1980’s. It put a smile on my face. I was so happy to see Neal and his wife Siobhan plus all the kids. We went and stayed at the Holiday Inn by the gas station I used to work at before joining the military.

Digital Sign, Manitoba. Jaime Lee Lightle (2022)

Jaime writing…

Leaving Samuel de Champlain Park, my eyes were looking down at our map, so I missed the Black Bear and Raven who bid us adieu. James said when he saw these creatures, he took it as a sign that we were on the right path. We’ve seen lots of signs on this journey: “I got the Jab”; “No More Lockdowns”; “Be Safe, Get Vaccinated”; “All children matter”; “Private Property”; “Make Trudeau a Drama Teacher again”; “Fresh Produce up ahead”; “Closed”; “Open”; “Stay Safe”; “Jesus died for our sins”; “Fuck Trudeau”. A sign is a written or drawn representation that expresses or indicates the existence of meaning of a thought. These signs gave us insight into the thoughts of our fellow Canadians.

Our drive from North Bay area to Port Hope was lovely. The fog coming off the river cleared and the sun blasted us at full force during the entire drive. From Hwy 17, we took Hwy 35 through the Kawartha Lakes Region. Huntsville, Lindsay, brick buildings, oh how I love thee! The foliage on the Maple and Sumac trees were beginning their transition from green to red and orange. We also started seeing pumpkins adorning porches, baskets and front decks which made me think of all the farm stands at home in Nova Scotia which would be full of the bounty of the Fall harvest by now.

Glorious Sky, Saskatchewan. James C E Lightle (2022)

In Baillieboro Ontario, we passed the remains of Jim’s family’s farmstead of which only a brick chimney remained. Jim was instantly saddened to see a part of his past fallen into the earth. When we got to the boundary of Port Hope at around 1:30 PM we first stopped at the graveyard where Jim’s paternal grandparents, Hayden and Eleanor and his best friend Jeremy were laid to rest. After we paid our respects, Jim put a coin on each of their headstones. Leaving coins on gravestones is a fairly common practice, developed over centuries through a blend of myth and ritual. From Ancient Greek Mythology and throughout the centuries, other religions, and cultures, would leave not just coins, but other sentimental objects to pay respect to the dead.

At 2 PM we landed at Jim’s Uncle Dave and Aunt Vivian’s home. Suddenly I felt a sense of disbelief that we were standing on Port Hope soil, seeing family we haven’t seen for a better part of a decade.

Walton Street, Port Hope Ontario. Photo credit: James Lightle

Our next stop in Port Hope was Aunt Sylvia and Uncle Jim’s place where we met up with Jim’s cousin Christy and her son Scott and their 2 puppies. We ate for a second time and caught up with Jim’s cousin, a teacher at the local School. We were impressed with how bright Jim’s little cousin Scott was. The last time we saw him, he wasn’t even walking.

We left Jim and Sylvia’s at almost 8PM with one more important stop to make before the end of the night. Jim’s best friend Neal and his wife Siobhan, and their 4 sons – Chase, Eli, Cameron, and baby Callum. We arrived at the family of 6’s home and everyone was awaiting our arrival, even the baby was still up!

The house was warm from all the energy of the young children. The boys sojourned to the basement while the adults got caught up on life, work, family, and home schooling during the lockdown while baby Callum look on at us with his big blue eyes from his rocker chair.

James and Neal. Photo credit: James Lightle

Eli, our God son was a baby the last time we stopped in to see the Kloosterhof family. We cherished our time getting to know this bright, clever boy while he proudly stood amongst his dad’s toy collection – a budding collector himself now. Chase, the eldest beamed while he talked about his paper route.

We finally left the Kloosterhof’s at 11:30 PM. It was a school night for everyone afterall. We drove up the highway and checked into the Best Western. We were exhausted and stimulated by all the visits so we laid in bed and watched Gladiator until we could not keep our eyes open any longer.

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