Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 04.06.11
Stanstead, Quebec


The walking dad

The walking dad

My wife has kind of a reputation.

Like many reputations, it was earned shortly after we moved to Stanstead, Quebec, and again, like most reputations, it's been hard to shake.

My wife is The Woman Who Walks.

Deb's the US Postal Service of walkers -- neither snow nor rain nor heat nor annoying children shall stay her from the swift completion of her appointed rounds... with the stupid dog... and sometimes me.

"Are you coming for a walk?" she asks.

"But it's cold out," I say. Or drizzly or hot or partly icky with a chance of yuckiness.

"Come on, it'll be good for you. Look at that flabby butt."

While it's heartening to know that after all these years she still maintains some interest in my butt, this isn't what persuades me. What persuades me is the fact that this is essentially my only exercise, and if it weren't for my wife's initiative, I'd probably be dead. Perhaps not dead, but quite possibly something resembling a skinnier Jabba the Hutt, using my floppy flipper hands to update my Facebook status to read, "Feeling extra gooey today."

"All right, I'll come," I say. "But I won't enjoy it."

This isn't true at all. Once we're out the door (and as long as Deb holds the stupid dog's leash), the walks can be quite pleasant. We catch up, we make plans, we laugh about the ingenious ways we continue to mess with our children.

Plus, we get to wave at passing cars.

As I've mentioned before, when I first moved to Stanstead, I was stunned by how much waving I had to do. People I had barely met would wave at me as they drove by. And I soon learned that this is serious business. Fail to wave, and you can quickly earn a reputation as a snob.

That's why you sometimes have to employ the pre-emptive wave. Deb and I will be walking, a car will pass and I'll wave.

"Who was that?" Deb will ask.

"I have no idea," I'll say, "but it might be someone."

Half the time, we're just waving at tourists, which may be why Townshippers have a reputation for being so friendly. We're not friendly; we're just nearsighted.

Thanks to the waving, the chatting, and the strain-free exercise, I've resigned myself to the walks, and I grudgingly admit I enjoy them. They've become part of the daily (or in my case, quasi-daily) routine.

My problem is that they keep getting longer.

Just like Deb has her walking routine, she also has her designated route. Initially (and get out your Google Maps if you'd like to follow along), the walk was down Pierce, south on Dufferin, looping around Mountainview, north again on Dufferin, across Fairfax, down Ursulines and back to Pierce by crossing the autoroute (as long as there weren't any cops).

But several years ago, Deb started going beyond Mountainview down to the bike path (la piste de dog poop).

And then she started hooking onto the bike path further towards Rock Island by first taking the old four-wheeler trail through the abandoned tree plantation (la piste de résistance).

Then she added the Terrill loop, which you can access off Dufferin via the small path beside the Catholic church, a path I imagine is ideally suited for underage drinking (la piste to the gills).

And then, the final amendment, the ultimate agony, she added the long, boring walk to the dead end of Dufferin and back, where there are very few houses, little traffic, and barely a soul to wave at.

For reasons that I can't fully explain, I hate this dead-end stretch.

"No, not the dead end," I sometimes say at the intersection, mentally stomping my little foot. "I hate the dead end."

"You don't have to come," says Deb calmly, continuing her appointed rounds.

It's true. I could turn and head back. But I could really use the exercise and the time with my wife. Plus, if there's one thing worse than the ever-extending walk, it's walking home all alone.

And nobody wants to be known as the Flabby Butt Man Who Walks.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through He can be reached at