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For as long as I’ve known my friend Jasper, he’s been telling me about Goderich.  His wife is the same.  The two of them should be paid by the city as official tourist ambassadors for southern Ontario.  And it isn’t just because they were both Goderich born and raised; I’ve lived in a number of small towns and I direct people to absolutely none of them.  They both genuinely love the town.  They both longed after it while they lived in the GTA.  They both knew that someday, God willing, they would go home for good.

Not too long ago, they got their wish.  Both were able to land jobs in the Goderich area, they found a beautiful, century-and-a-half-old home, fixed it up into the kind of place that makes you sort of hate them because it’s so beautiful, and started calling up friends and family to come for visits.

Of course, Erin, Abby, and I made sure to get out there to see this place that (apocryphally) Queen Victoria called “the prettiest town in Canada.”  You can read about some of those adventures here, here, and here.  I now regret that I didn’t do the rest of the trip justice.  At the time I was too busy to write the next three or four posts about that visit, detailing some of the many Goderich landmarks we saw while we were there (like Culbert’s Bakery, the courthouse in the square, the farmer’s market, and the beach).

I’m sure that you can see where I am going with this.  If you live in Canada, you’ve seen the pictures of what the town looks like in the wake of the tornado touching down.  You know already how badly they were hit, how devastating the damage has been, how much that pretty little downtown looks like the sight of a bombing run.

I didn’t want to believe it was that bad when we first heard about it.  But the thing that brought it all screaming into perspective to me was Jasper’s first Facebook post after the tornado hit.

It is their town.  They always talked about it that way.  And from the single visit we had there, I think it would be safe to say that just about everyone there sees it that way too.  It isn’t the kind of small town that has every kid desperate to escape the second they can drive.  It is something much better than that.  It is a place full of life and pride and quiet beauty.

That is also the reason why I know that they will rebuild.  Other places might balk at the thought of trying to put everything back together again, but the people of Goderich are better than that; the Jaspers are proof of that.  I don’t think it will be long before we see the town square planted with new trees, the flea market stalls set up on a Sunday morning, the doors to all of the shops propped open to let in the breeze.

Good luck and God bless, Goderich.