Living under the urban sombrero


Editor’s Note: welcomes Ernest Skinner to our columnists team, each week Ernest will write about different perspectives on everyday life in the Sault. Welcome aboard Ernest!


I’ve decided to write my first article for Sault Online about the positives of living in the urban area of Sault Ste. Marie. For years I’ve shunned at the thought of living in or near the downtown area. I guess I was afraid of the many muggings and drive-bys we have experienced over the years.

Finally, after many years of watching and studying Seinfeld, I’ve made the leap and relocated to the downtown scene. Being here only a short time, I’ve already noticed the electricity and bohemian kind of vibe that the area brings.

Besides not being mugged ha ha ; there are many health benefits to living in the eyeball of Sault Ste. Marie. For starters. you can get up early in the morning and get your endorphin rush and exercise by walking our beautiful boardwalk, while taking in the beauty of St. Mary’s River which is teeming with life . You can also get your vitamin D supply by utilizing the trails near Whitefish Island and get your nature and wildlife fix at the same time. Hardcore bike and jogging enthusiasts can access anywhere in the city pretty much, by using the Hub Trail which is also connected to the downtown core.

If you are not a big fan of direct exercise, you can relax (pun intended), as you can get indirect exercise and not even know it by simply walking to your appointments ; whether it’s the library, the Cafe Con Leche coffee shop, Puppy’s barber shop (reminds me, I need to get a trim), Good Eats grocery store, or the Hound game at the Essar Centre. Belt notches will be loosened and you didn’t even have to put in a conscious effort ! Who would have thought ?

Kicking around a soccer ball, throwing a frisbee or baseball, and chasing your dog, ferret or llama can all be down downtown in one of the parks or open spaces that are within walking distance from local neighborhoods.

Economically, living in a downtown area is easy to justify. Living in close proximity to everything you need will definitely cut down on your vehicle fuel and repair bills, home property taxes (unless you are renting) and you will also be economically supporting small local businesses that survive on your patronage. A healthy downtown core is also vital to our tourism industry. Tourists will flock to local shops and inject revenue if the downtown area is alive and energetic. By living downtown, you will be helping your city prosper and that in itself is a reason to make the jump if you have the chance.

The most important reason that I’m enjoying living near “the centre of it all, Station Mall !” is the social community aspect and fellowship of the other drones that I come across on a daily or semi daily basis.
With everything so close by for walking to do your errands or attend appointments, you realize that you come in contact with many of the same people day in and day out. Whether it’s Sam the butcher, Newman the postman, Apu the corner store guy, or Ernie from the coffee shop, you are bound to development healthy friendships and contacts.

A downtown area that hosts and boasts community festivals ads to the feeling of belonging, and being close to it all makes it easier to participate whether it’s volunteering at Rotaryfest, Bon Soo, or just attending and supporting local artists at the Fringe festival this summer.

Taking in a city council meeting is another advantage of living so close to the city’s pulse. One can gain a better perspective of what is going on in your city and make a difference by attending these weekly meetings. If you have an idea, after going through the proper channels, you can speak to council and offer your suggestion or opinion. If on the other hand, you don’t like to speak in front of a crowd, you can still give your opinion by throwing tomatoes or eggs from the bleachers. .

Yes of course, anyone living anywhere in the city can attend a council meeting or community festival but living within a short walk or bike ride away is one less hurdle, and are we not all procrastinators ??

I would just like to add that our city sub culture is alive and vibrant, and I continue to find hidden gems that I otherwise would not know about if I had not moved to the downtown core.

I invite you all to investigate its charm and take a peak under the ” Urban Sombrero” !

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Ernest Skinner
Ernest Skinner was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie and attended Humber College after high school. He has a passion for other cultures and has traveled throughout Mexico and many South American countries.. He has written many articles over the years that deal with events happening here in Sault Ste. Marie. Reading about ancient civilizations, world politics, and mysteries of the unknown are also defining factors that are his general makeup. Outside of being serious, he has a bright sense of humor that was molded from shows like Seinfeld to The Simpsons. Ernest is a columnist


  1. I enjoyed this article and concur with Ernest that this place is a little paradise. Summer does bring out the best of the area and I look forward to it after this winter. Looking forward to more from Ernest

  2. Hey Ernest!!! Long time no see… I was reading your article and well, fill me in, cause I would like to try something new instead of all of the same things. Where can I find the Cafe Con Leche coffee shop, or the Good Eats Grocers (if its cheaper than Pino I’ll take it!!) Hope all is well 🙂

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