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Nolan Tells All

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Fort McMurray Circle

As summertime in McMurray approaches, an odd paradox happens in my life and likely in many of your lives as well.

THIS IS BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT THE BEST time to live in Fort McMurray. The long nights, the generally perfect not-too-hot, not-too-cool temperatures, and the smells of the boreal forest after a heavy dew night are just a few of the things to love about our summers here.


However, this is also the time of the year where many of us venture away from this home to visit our original home.

The type of questions you get from your friends and family there usually depend on what part of the country you are from. If you are from the Maritimes or Newfoundland then Fort McMurray is essentially just an extension of home for them. It has become a way of life for many and you likely won’t get any questions. They know why you are here; they know why you plan on staying here.

Now if you are from virtually any other part of the country, they likely know a little about what it is we do here, but that information generally comes from exposés on what “life is really like” in Fort McMurray and many of us who have lived here for a while look upon those pieces with absolute disdain.

After we educate them about what our lives are really like and reassure them that the vast majority of us aren’t cocaine fuelled, hooker visiting zombies, the inevitable question of why you stay here is brought up.

From all appearances the question is a fair one. Many of us are hundreds if not thousands of kilometres away from the place we once called home and those who live there think we have no support system and live lonely, isolated lives and couldn’t possibly be happy being this far away from home.

So how do I answer this question every time I have a family gathering back home?

I have already mentioned my love of our summers here. Every weekend there are things to do, whether sanctioned or not. If getting off the grid is your thing in the summer, you can escape the world as long as you please.

Why in the very pages of this publication there are dozens of ways for you to spend a summer day and night in McMurray.

But for me it isn’t necessarily the place but more so the people you spend your time with that is my go to answer to that question and the one most filled with truth.

I have a group of friends from a wide variety of backgrounds. If I want to go watch or play sports I have people to do that with. If I want to watch or play live music, I call another group of people. I rely on them, they rely on me. We play counselor, parent or brother, whatever role is needed.

I have shared my best and worst times with the friends I have made up here in Fort McMurray and the real reason I stay is them. I am not certain I would assemble this kind of social circle anywhere else if I were to move because we are all up here under similar circumstances and have an understanding of what it’s like.

The only problem that is inevitable here is that circle does change frequently. People get homesick, people get transferred, people move on to the bright lights and big city. You develop intense relationships with people and then they are gone. It is an unfortunate reality.

With that in mind, I encourage you to spend the massive amount of daylight – and even plenty of time once the sun goes down – with those in your Fort McMurray circle.

Make the memories that will make it hard for you to leave this city, and especially that circle, when or if that decision comes.



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