The Chronicles of Sarnia, № 2

~In which editor DLR recalls his youth on the island of Sarnia.~

№ 2: Changes

emper Eadem
, or “always the same”, was etched on our school crest – a tribute to Queen Elizabeth I, who shared this steadfast motto when she founded the institution in 1563. Back then, it was a seminary housed in a handful of rooms. By the time I was there, it taught a rather wider range of subjects, but still admitted only boys. Like the little gentlemen we were supposed to become, we were forced to wear tweed blazers and carry our schoolbooks and pencils in briefcases.

It would be too easy to say that Sarnia was Semper Eadem. Yes, it’s true that it is a misty antique, that its inhabitants are some strange combination of middle Englanders and continental coast-dwellers, but most of the time, it potters along happily like any other small town.

During those years, I began to accumulate CDs, a now-outdated medium that only proves how much things do change.  Early purchases were haphazard, but eventually patterns emerged: classic rock artists and contemporary bands made up nearly equal parts, with the odd Miles Davis or John Coltrane record thrown in for good measure. Though at the time it was innocent musical curiosity, it now smacks of studied hipster eclecticism.

It soon became clear that I would end up purchasing a large number of Bob Dylan and David Bowie albums. One of the first Bowie albums I picked out was Hunky Dory, a then-30-year-old record that opened with the track “Changes”. This anthem didn’t seem to apply to Sarnia’s sleepy landscape, and I decided to pen the (once again) imaginatively titled “Everything Stays the Same”.

More an homage than a riposte, you can listen to a reasonably well produced version of it below.

Eventually, some things changed. Briefcases were abandoned in favour of sensible rucksacks;  Sarnia’s airport was rebuilt in glass and steel; and the island even bought a whole fleet of new buses that were just slightly too wide for the narrow country roads. And though my record collection grew, Semper Eadem remained etched on the school crest, for better or worse.

Stay tuned for more Sarnian tales.