Retiree sold on Windsor
July 19th, 2012:
Retiree sold on Windsor
By Chris Vander Doelen, The Windsor Star July 19, 2012
This happens more and more these days - meeting a newcomer to Windsor or Essex County who spouts surprised superlatives about the unexpected joys of living here.
It's so beautiful! The weather! Detroit! It's been 32 years since I became a transplant myself, but it never gets old for me hearing shocked newcomers relate their experience.
I bumped into another one this week, retiree Lottie Taillefer, who can't say enough good things about a newly adopted city she never wanted to visit, much less live in.
"When I was in North Bay, Windsor was the last place in the world I would have moved to," Lottie told me over the phone after calling me to talk about something else.
Taillefer ended up moving here 18 months ago at her daughter's urging after a lifetime spent in Northern Ontario and Quebec, and it's like she's found a new lease on life.
A native of Blind River, Ont., who grew up in Val d'Or, Que., and North Bay, Taillefer had been bumping around various apartments unhappily in the six years since her soulmate Leo died.
He was a builder and a good father and she's not looking to remarry "because you only get lucky once. He was a perfect husband."
First she lived near the eldest boy, a music teacher in North Bay. But she was bored without Leo. "There is nothing in North Bay. I've never been back and I don't miss it."
Then she moved to live near the other son in Montreal.
He's gay, a partner with an international accounting firm, married with two young daughters.
It didn't work out. "I hated the province of Quebec. The people aren't friendly and the province does nothing for its seniors."
Her daughter, a senior nurse in Essex County, convinced her to give this place a try and she thought what the heck.
Well, was she surprised.
"This is a great city. I hear people complain and I think, my God! Go back and live in the bush and see how you like it. I'm never going to live anywhere else," she told me over glasses of Coke in her cosy Bridge Avenue apartment with the river view she now prizes so much.
Taillefer wishes she could send postcards to her friends in North Bay. She wants to show off the skylines of Windsor and Detroit with the lights and the casinos (she plays the penny slots) and the big buildings. But she can't find one.
All the negative impressions she had of Windsor are gone.
Taillefer enjoys taking in a Tigers game when it's not too hot, she feels safe and loves walking what she feels are gorgeous streets.
Mostly, it's the trees: "My God, I don't think Windsor has ever cut down a tree! They seem to have built the houses around the trees."
This is music to the ears of a tree lover, so I press for more.
"Some of the trees here, they're so huge and they have so much character. There's one on Campbell Avenue - I might be nuts, but I love that tree. I look at it every time I'm waiting for the bus."
Afterwards I go to check it out, and find an enormous black walnut wrapped around an equally huge Ohio buckeye. You wouldn't see either of those up in North Bay.
Other things surprised Taillefer: the diversity of Windsor's people, the cargo ships and constant activity on the riverfront.
And, of course, the weather. "I didn't have to wear boots all winter! I gave them away." The people she finds "very friendly," even if some of them tend to complain too much about Windsor.
Taillefer was pleased to find a huge Lebanese community here - she's half Lebanese, half French-Canadian - and surprised that so few people speak French. "I don't want to forget my French," so she's doing French crosswords.
She's found the housing cheaper and better by far in Windsor than any of her former cities. And unlike in Quebec, prescription drugs here are mostly covered. Quebec seniors pay for every penny of their prescriptions, and the transit is terrible, she says.
"The bus service is excellent here. I hear them complain about the buses, but why?"
Recently she discovered the shuttle that takes seniors to the airport for only $7.50. (Montreal son had sent an airline ticket as a lure to come see some of the seven grandchildren.)
Of course, some of all this happiness with Windsor might be due to Taillefer's own positive attitude. She's 81, looks and acts a couple of decades younger.
You might eventually run into her at Devonshire Mall or Caesars or maybe a Red Wings game one day if they can get tickets when the Canadiens come to town.
"My daughter had me move here, but I told her: if you want to move anywhere else you go right ahead because I'm staying right here."
Visit the News page here..