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  • Writer's pictureHunter Cresswell

A Califonian’s view of the Hills

I’ve learned a lot these past four years.

Almost too much to fit within the confines of a 500 word column, but – since my days at the Low Down are numbered – I’ll give it a whirl.

I first rolled down Valley Drive, all the way from California, into the village that would become my home in August 2018 and the first thing I learned was where to get a beer — the village watering hole, Kaffé 1870. That first month in town was largely spent drinking Kaffé lagers sitting at that bar just soaking in the community. I usually had my book with me, but always had my ears open.

Next, I learned that the Hills are in serious need of more housing, specifically affordable housing. I got very lucky finding apartments to rent in Edelweiss, but I never would have found them without social media groups and help from locals. I pity anyone moving to the Hills blind in search of a place to lay their weary head.

Then I found where to eat. Rest in peace to Jean Burger, Wakefield’s casse-croute, which closed in 2021. The roadside restaurant didn’t look like much from the outside, but the welcoming staff always handed over squeaky, gravy-melted cheese curds, which never failed to satisfy my poutine fix.

With the basics – food, drink, and shelter – covered, I could focus on politics. I got into journalism to cover elections and legislatures, but the U.S. curriculum skips over the intricacies of Canadian politics. I spoke with people at the Kaffé, and read political books and websites to take in everything I could. I’m still ashamed to say that I never realized that voters don’t individually elect a prime minister like Americans elect a president until I moved here.

By this time, I was beginning to make friends. I worked a couple side hustles my first year, half-washing pint glasses in the Kaffé dish pit and swinging chairs at Sommet Edelweiss. The people I met through these gigs gave me an appreciation for Gatineau Hills folks. They’re salt-of-the-earth types, the kind of people to help out their neighbours without hesitation. But it wasn’t until the climbing gym, Klimat, opened in Wakefield that I found a crew who I could kick back with for a night of beers and Nintendo 64.

My final day at the Low Down to Hull & Back News is Aug. 9. I’m ready for a new challenge, but not a new setting. I’m not leaving the Hills.

To all my coworkers who put up with my loud mouth for all these years, sorry. To my boss, Nikki Mantel, who rolled the dice when hiring a kid from the other side of the continent, you are the reason that I’m here building this new life for myself. Words can’t express my gratitude. To everyone I interviewed or crossed paths with while working, I’ll see you around.

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