First Impressions

By Dawn Storey

(WINDSOR, ON) – When you visit a new place, your senses are assailed by unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells, and your brain immediately begins to form first impressions and compare these new experiences to that which is familiar.

For me, coming to Windsor didn’t involve leaving my country, learning a new language, dealing with culture shock, or any of the other issues one might face when moving to a foreign land; however, right from the first time I touched down at Windsor International Airport I was struck by just how different Windsor is from any other city in which I’ve lived.

I realize that the danger of first impressions is that they may not be completely accurate, and that once formed they can be difficult to change. I also accept that it’s rather unfair to compare two parts of the country and make value judgments based on those comparisons. Nevertheless, I’m going to take the chance and share with you just a handful of my strongest first impressions of the city I now call home.

The Houses

I come from the land of wood and stucco, and right from the start fell in love with the solid history and character of Windsor’s many brick buildings. What amazed me, too, and was in fact a major factor in our decision to move to Windsor, was the type of home that could be purchased for what seems to me to be a realistic sum of money. Now that I’ve moved to Windsor, I love that I can walk around my own modest neighbourhood and be surrounded by character homes whose western counterparts existed only in the most expensive areas of my former city. I especially appreciate that here in Windsor a person doesn’t need to be extremely wealthy to realize the dream of home ownership. That’s the way it should be.

The Roads

Back in Victoria it seemed as though road crews were set up in some part of town or other at any given time throughout the year, blocking streets and holding up traffic, and people did an awful lot of complaining about the inconvenience it caused to their daily commute. Until I came to Windsor, though, I never realized just how much that ubiquitous roadwork meant to the city! Admittedly I haven’t yet done an extensive amount of exploring in our new location, but I can say that my first impression of Windsor’s roads is that in general, they seem to be in terrible shape and are long overdue for refurbishment. Without an in-depth analysis I would guess that they got that way because of the climate (which, so far, hasn’t actually seemed all that different from where I’m from!) and remain that way because of budget priorities, but regardless of reason, from the perspective of a newcomer, the roads in this city are remarkably bad and, in my opinion, contribute to one’s view of the city’s prosperity (or lack thereof).

The People

To my mind, one of the most lovely and valuable features of Windsor, one that is noticeable immediately upon arrival, is the ethnic diversity of its people and the tremendous sense of multiculturalism that pervades the city. I don’t quite know how to say this delicately and without offense (because certainly none is meant), but apart from seasonal cruise ship tourists and a handful of international school students, the faces of my former city were, for the most part, fairly monochrome. For me, seeing the many varied faces of Windsor and experiencing influences from cultures other than my own has been wonderfully refreshing and eye-opening, a beautiful reminder of all that I love about our country and its citizens.

For better or for worse, I look forward to seeing how my first impressions evolve as I become more acquainted with my new city.

For more on “Why Windsor…” visit Dawn Storey’s blog.

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between. His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States. Contact Ian with story ideas.

4 Comments on "First Impressions"

  1. You remind me – especially the comment about the locals – about my first impressions of Canberra, many years ago. The people were so different, exotic and exciting. There were different foods in the supermarkets, different restaurants, different looks. I loved it. It’s been twenty-five years now, and I still love it here.

    Looking forward to reading more of your words on Windsor. Sometimes the clearest eyes are those open widest to see every new thing.

    Pete, ex-Victorian

  2. Welcome to Windsor (and the Square) Dawn!

    Our city and region is indeed a great place to live and raise a family. People here are passionate, care deeply and are very engaged in building a better community – despite the few that link criticism of city hall politics with being negative about Windsor. That in of itself speaks of their motivations.

    I moved to Windsor in 2001 for several reasons. I, like others, had preconceived notions about Windsor before arriving, which were shattered upon settling in. Sure, Windsor is not Victoria, or North Vancouver, or Ottawa or Toronto, but if that is what I was looking for, I would have moved to Vancouver, or remained in Ottawa or Toronto.

    But welcome! Summers are especially fantastic as the festival season kicks into high gear.

  3. Welcome to our great city Dawn, I’m sure you will really enjoy it even more once the warmer weather comes in March. Please don’t listen to the few boo birds that we have in Windsor, they just can’t stop being negative and whiney. We have the most amazing mayor the city has ever seen, one who truely cares about this city and it’s people. This council and mayor have actually spent way more on roads and sewer construction than previous councils, so really, what more do some people want? The Aquatic Centre is something that most Windsorites have begged for for decades, something for the whole family to do in our own city. I can’t wait for it to open, as do many residents and in the future, tourists also.

    The one thing you must understand about Windsor is that we are a city full of good, friendly people. We just have a small but strong voiced negative element that is bent on bringing down the mayor, scaring away potential employers, spreading negativity and always badmouthing Windsor as if they actually enjoy doing so. The old industrial, blue collar Windsor is no longer a reality as we move to attract new white collar jobs and industry here. This is exactly what the people of Windsor wanted when they elected Mayor Francis, and it’s exactly what he has been doing for years. The future has never looked brighter for our city and it’ll be exciting to see all the new projects come on board and help shape the Windsor to come. You came here at the right time Dawn, enjoy your new city and don’t be fooled by the few negative elements crying that Windsor is doomed, it’s anything but!

  4. Dawn our city is a great city to live in, you will see that as you live here longer. The issue you will find is that our mayor and council have their priorites mixed up, and they have big EGO’s. You had mentioned the roads and how they are in need of major repair, that is only one thing. The mayor and council have put this sure to fail white elephant Aquatic Centre before fixing our roads. We were told two years ago that they needed to raise our water bills to replace our water lines as they could make us ill and were in need of replacement immediately. I would think that the mayor and council would make the replacement of water lines on their top priority list and put the health and welfare of it’s residence first, and spend that $77.6 million dollars on that project.

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