I can define the word ‘beauty’ in one word; Elora. To me, Elora is the most beautiful place on earth. My favourite locations, scenery, memories, everything, stay in my mind, no matter where I go.
My life has taken me to both coasts of Canada. Everywhere that I lived, I had Elora in my heart. It was difficult to find the ideal place to make a home while living in Vancouver. It was all very exciting and beautiful, but it wasn’t Elora. At one point I lived in Lynn Valley on the North Shore. The gorge reminded me of the Elora Gorge. It was great and a lot of fun to explore, but something was missing. The gorge was walking distance from home, but other amenities were not.
Growing up in Elora mere blocks from the main street meant that everything was a short walk away. It’s difficult for me to have to get into the car for every little thing. Driving was a foreign entity. My past used the car for driving to work or for major trips, but not groceries. In Elora, I could walk to the LM grocery store to get whatever I needed. Driving to a coffee shop? That was just weird.
Nothing seems to be walking distance in cities. It is just street after street after street of houses. In Elora, I can walk to the main street and pick up items that I need, saying hello to people that I meet. I don’t know everyone, but that doesn’t matter. People are friendly here. I say hello to the tourists. After all, they’re out having a visit in the prettiest place on earth. We want to be welcoming.
Another home in the lower mainland of Vancouver was in West Vancouver. I loved that place. It wasn’t close to the gorge, but it was a block from the main street and 3 blocks from the walking trails along the seawall. That location filled my need to be close to downtown. There were some fabulous stores. I soon made friends with the shoe repair guy. My narrow feet require special sizes that come only in the higher end shoes. I repair, rather than replace. The shoe repair fellow loved the quality of the shoes and complemented me on my taste every time I stopped in.
After a few years on the west coast, life took me to Nova Scotia. It was gorgeous. We lived in the Annapolis Valley and on the shore of the Bay of Fundy. The view was spectacular and there were plenty of interesting places for hiking and walking. It wasn’t Elora, though. I was out in the country and had to drive to town for absolutely everything. It was very difficult for me. Elora was tugging at my heart every day. After a couple of years, I gave in to my feelings and returned to Elora. Oddly enough, I found an old horoscope-based bookmark while packing. It had been a gift from a friend in my high school days. It read, “Home comes the wanderer. Home from the sea. Your homeland, oh cancer, is heartland for thee.” I always thought that it meant that I would find the man of my dreams and kind of laughed it off as fun. Eventually, I realized the truth. My heart and soul belong to Elora.
Why? Because to me, Elora is the true definition of beauty. I grew up playing in the gorge and riding my bike through the park. It was absolute heaven to return to Elora and take my son to all of my old favourite places. He was born in Annapolis Royal, but he considers himself to be a native of Elora.
Like me, Elora has stolen his heart and just won’t let go. We have everything here that we need. We have our grocery store, drug store, hardware stores and lumber yard, pet food store, lawyers and other services, library and post office, hair dressers and barbers, Mill Street shops, restaurants and coffee shops and a score of businesses to care for us and for our homes. The latest report on the doctors’ waiting list showed that it was down to 48. Elora, and Centre Wellington, is a growing place. People want to live here. That’s obvious by the fact the it is more expensive to buy a home in Elora than it is in Guelph.
While many homes in Elora are too far to walk to every place in town, we still maintain the feel of a village and our own special sense of Elora style. You may never visit the Elora Gorge or swim at the Elora Quarry, but you know that they are there waiting. You are asked for directions to them every year. It gives me great feelings to know that people make a point to travel to Elora. We are a well-known and worthy destination. The Elora Festival draws thousands every summer and the Elora Festival Book Sale is an annual event to look forward to. I have relatives who have visited every year from the very first one. They live a day’s drive away. For them it is a not-to-be-missed event.
I’m proud to say that I live in Elora. I know that it goes beyond the physical beauty of the gorge. Elora’s Mill Street is fascinating, and the shop owners put a lot of effort into bringing wonderful products to their stores. Many store fronts have been restored to give an old fashioned feel. I’m always impressed with such efforts and I love browsing the shops. They have some of the most interesting of gifts. Where else can you can something unique? Certainly, not in the malls in Guelph.
Beyond the Elora Festival, we have other fabulous art events, such as the studio tour and Riverfest. The Elora Curling Club is celebrating 175 years. Every age group in town can play group sports such as hockey, soccer, lacrosse and baseball. There are multiple fitness clubs and martial arts clubs. The Elora and Salem Horticultural Society is 164 years old and is one of Ontario’s oldest continuously operating societies. We have charities and clubs for everyone, and more special events every years. It is truly a wonderful place to live.
We have so much to be proud of in Elora. I could go on forever, singing its praises, but the internet just doesn’t have enough space.
One thing is certain, though. If I stood by the post office tomorrow and asked residents about Elora, they would agree with me that Elora is the complete definition of beauty.