10:38:39 am on
Monday 17 Jun 2024

New Golden Age
David Simmonds

A couple of years ago, I wrote, tongue-in-cheek, about how Wellington would soon be discovered by continentals raving about the charms of the hip cafe culture of “Vellingtunne.” Now, I wonder if it isn’t happening.

My wife had gone away for a few days, taking the car, while I explored the main street of Wellington on foot and bike. In the sultry June dusk, candles flickered inside the Pomadoro and East and Main restaurants, beckoning you with their intimate charms. Just down the street at the Tall Poppy Cafe, pedestrians wandered past an obviously packed house and peered in upon a rapt audience, asking whether the restaurant, in fact, had shuttered for the night. Yes, someone was staging Conrad Beaubien’s play, “Stringman. Too bad, they said, we would have loved to hear about something like that taking place in Wellington at night.

Now I’m not saying this is Paris, or New York or even Roncesvalles Avenue, but it’s forgivable if you dared to utter the words “Wellington” and “nightlife” in the same breath. Let’s take stock for a moment.

Our friends from the Drake Hotel, in Toronto, are poised to open their Devonshire hotel next spring, assuming they start putting up something to replace what they have taken down, and with that will come a loyal cadre of customers expecting the same entertainment cachet as in their original location. Our harbour continues to attract boaters from all points on Lake Ontario. We have a multiplicity of wineries within spitting distance, many of which are now transforming themselves into entertainment multiplexes, with festivals, theme days, concerts and the like. 

Our newly published, and eye catching, Wellington and District Business and Services Directory lists nine bed and breakfast and another nine cottage and furnished suite establishments, meaning there must be at least 50 accommodation rooms in the immediate vicinity of Wellington, several of which are new to the market in the last year or two. When they stay here, they’ll want to do something here.

My view, in an unscientific nutshell, is that Wellington is becoming a ‘destination’. It is about to enter a new golden age.

Before you rush to open that martini bar or late night jazz lounge, there are two points to consider. The first is timing. I might be right, but I might be off by a year or two, because you could drop a fortune. For instance, the new golf course/residential community in our northeastern sector is going to be started at some point, but I would wait to see a shovel in the ground before lining up to buy wedge futures.

The second is the annual cycle. Few businesses here can afford to operate anything less than 12 months a year. Now this may not hold back those who would open a gas station, although something has, but our year has more than one phase. There’s summer tourist season; the two months on either side, which can be busy if tourism officials come up with enough catchy special events; November and December, during which it’s just us locals; and then January, February and March, during which it feels like about half the population has disappeared. No wonder most of our business just provide the basics.

To stay afloat year-round, you have to be an entrepreneur who can do at least two things well. If you want to run a ferry over to Sandbanks Park, can you hold your head above water through the lean months operating a local taxi service? If your forte is fresh 24-hour worms, do you bring sufficient skill to operating a rest-of-the-year all-day breakfast joint? If you want to operate a tattoo parlour, can you operate a print shop to keep from starving in the off seasons? If your client were Quinte Recycles, the answer would appear to be an obvious yes.

This risk will not deter the entrepreneur with the big vision. Those with a single vision, who are prepared to share it, may find partners with complementary plans. Does anyone want to open a summer T-shirt shop alongside my Main Street winter bowling alley concept? Why not go public with your hole-by-hole winery tour mini-putt concept, and see who bites? A golden age awaits the adventurous. 

Some readers seem intent on nullifying the authority of David Simmonds. The critics are so intense; Simmonds is cast as more scoundrel than scamp. He is, in fact, a Canadian writer of much wit and wisdom. Simmonds writes strong prose, not infrequently laced with savage humour. He dissects, in a cheeky way, what some think sacrosanct. His wit refuses to allow the absurdities of life to move along, nicely, without comment. What Simmonds writes frightens some readers. He doesn't court the ineffectual. Those he scares off are the same ones that will not understand his writing. Satire is not for sissies. The wit of David Simmonds skewers societal vanities, the self-important and their follies as well as the madness of tyrants. He never targets the outcasts or the marginalised; when he goes for a jugular, its blood is blue. David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye, a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. He believes quirkiness is universal; this is his focus and the base of his creativity. "If my humour hurts," says Simmonds,"it's after the stiletto comes out." He's an urban satirist on par with Pete Hamill and Mike Barnacle; the late Jimmy Breslin and Mike Rokyo and, increasingly, Dorothy Parker. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington, Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times," in Wellington, Ontario.

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