It wasn’t a call we were expecting

The phone call came on a Thursday. It was several weeks late – so late, in fact, that we figured it wouldn’t come at all.

Two years ago, my now-husband decided to follow his childhood dream of becoming a police officer. A year ago, he was put on the hiring list for the Ontario Provincial Police – the only service to which he applied. And since then, every four months, about six weeks before intake (which happens in January, May and September) we’ve been holding our breath every time the phone rings, hoping for a fateful call saying he got in.

The phone never rang. Well, more specifically, it rang hundreds of times, but never with a job offer on the other end.

We got married in November. We planned it quickly, in case he got in for January. But the six week mark came and went. In fact, all of November came and went, and we were closing in on Christmas. As we’d done three times before, we moved on and started planning the next fourth months of our lives.

And then, suddenly, there it was. A flashing red light on the answering machine and a message from a recruiting officer. Surprise number one.

Surprise number two? That was where he was being posted.

When he was originally recruited, he was given three choices of where he’d like to be, with a general sort-of promise (80 per cent of candidates end up in one of their choices) and an ominous but understandable caveat (candidates must be prepared to go anywhere in Ontario [emphasis very much mine]). Together, we reviewed all the possibilities, and while we both kind of wanted to try something bold and far away from the Southwestern Ontario living we had known our whole lives, we ended up settling on locations well within the Great Lakes basin. One of them, Elliot Lake, we considered ‘North,’ but it was number three on the list. 

Well, we certainly got bold and far away. He got offered Cochrane.

(Elliot Lake is about six hours south of the town.)

Knowing that he’d say yes regardless of what we discovered, we took to Google and found out as much as we could about Cochrane. It has a population of about 5,300 and, reassuringly, a Tim Hortons (fitting, since the hockey player was born in Cochrane). It’s just north of the 49th parallel, which means we’ll be in the company of most of the rest of Canada for the first time in our lives. The temperature for the week was hovering around minus 25 (minus 30 with the windchill).  And there’s a polar bear, Ganuk, who lives at the Polar Bear Conservation and Educational Habitat and Heritage Village.

So, we’re moving to Cochrane.

In the next several months, he will be learning how to be a police officer, and I will be doing my best to learn how to live in Northern Ontario.

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