05:49:07 am on
Thursday 21 Nov 2019

Wellington Not Walton
David Simmonds

Do you ever get the sense your home is not located where you believe? Do you really live somewhere else? I live in Wellington, Ontario. If you live on my street, Carla Court, people might think you live elsewhere.

► An error is infectious.

Here’s the reason. According to the paper White Pages of the telephone directory from Bell Canada, I live in Wellington. All well and good, but according to the online, always-up-to-date directory Canada411.ca, I don’t live in Wellington; rather, I live in a place called Walton, Ontario.

I’m not alone: six other houses on my street with a Canada 411 listing are also located in Walton and the infection has spread to nearby Skiff Cove Road and Shourds Street. To add to the confusion, the directions map of Canada 411 puts my house and all the other should-be-in-Wellington-but-says-Walton residences at a spot on Danforth Road roughly one hundred metres east of its intersection with Chase Road, in Walton, Ontario, or still further away.

Where is Walton, Ontario? According to Wikipedia, Walton is a hamlet located in the municipality of Morris-Turnberry, in Huron County, about forty-five kilometres, that’s roughly twenty-five miles, east of Goderich, Ontario. Its climate “is determined by a combination of the prevailing westerly wind and proximity to the Great Lakes; this referred to as lake effect. The effect is particularly evident during winter months as part of the snow belt on the lee of Lake Huron.” Wellington thus has something in common: wind and snow.

If you’re a motorcycle-racing enthusiast, you may already know of Walton. It bills itself as “the motocross town,” and hosts the annual TransCan event. Enterprises in the town include construction, a gravel pit, several farmer-related enterprises, a variety store, computer recycling, trucking, crafts, a repair shop, an aircraft shop and toyshop; mobile seed cleaning and engineering services. Sadly, its landmark United Church closed its doors in 2015.

Goderich seems charming and I thank the Canada 411 people for giving me the opportunity to pretend I reside there, but I think I’d sooner go for the consistency of belonging to just one municipality. Who knows how many people have tried to track me down in the Wellington County by telephone, bearing news of an unexpected inheritance or a Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes win, only to give up in frustration because the closest match they could find was a David Simmonds who lived in Walton. “That couldn’t be him,” they would have said to themselves.

► What if Aunt Myrtle wished to visit?

I shudder to think how many of my long-lost Aunt Myrtles and high school friend, Edwins, have vacationed in the County and thought, “I tried to look up my nephew or chum David while I was here. I was sure he lived in Wellington, but the only David Simmonds I could find was in Walton. He must have an unlisted number. I guess he doesn’t want visitors.” I smell the makings of a class action against Canada 411, including damages for lost economic opportunity and emotional distress.

You want to ask, “How did this error occur?” It beats me. Although you would have to suspect, the names both beginning with a “W,” a keystroking error.

Next, you pose the musical question, “How long has this been going on?” Well, I’m into my eleventh year in the County and I’ve had the problem from the get-go; so, quite a long time. Then, you ask, “Why hasn’t anybody else complained?” They may have, but they have lives, with meaning, and no time for trivial pursuits like this one.

“Well then,” you ask, “Why haven’t you just sorted this out with Canada 411 and ditched the negative attitude?” Over the years, I have called and written, albeit in a desultory way. The people at Bell listings have said it’s the fault of Canada 411 and the people at Canada 411 have referred me back to Bell. For some reason, no one inside the telephone bureaucracy sees the opportunity to champion my complaint as a career builder. Besides, I like having a negative attitude: the continuing foul-up gives me a reason to complain.

Maybe I should just thank my lucky stars my assignment wasn’t to Wiarton or Windsor. Perhaps I should see this mistake as a signal from the fates that Wellington and Walton are connected and this is an opportunity for cultural enrichment. I can see the Wellington Times headline now, “The ‘motocross town’ makes common cause with ‘the coolest spot when the weather’s hot.’” Wellington could send Walton a float or two to enter its Canada Day parade and invite Walton to send a platoon of motocross riders to join our Pumpkinfest parade, which would take the performance pressure off our local Shriners, who aren’t getting any younger.

► Assign me to Wellington, New Zealand, next time.

Maybe the Walton mistake heralds a new era in municipality-to-municipality reconciliation. Maybe Canada 411 is on to something and the mistake is a deliberate, if subtle, form of social engineering financed by some well-meaning charitable foundation. Next time, consider assigning me to Waikiki or Wellington, New Zealand. I’ve done my time with Walton, even though I’ve never ridden motocross.

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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