In the six years that Bill and I have lived in Belleville, I have been photographing odd things in the city. And I have concluded that Belleville is decidedly weird. At one point, I even considered having a sweatshirt printed that would read, “Keep Belleville Weird”. But I never did, and now we’re planning to move home to Picton in October. During our remaining time here, however, I’ll continue exploring its weirdness. (Picton and Prince Edward County have their own weirdness, and I intend to explore that as well.)
I can’t account for Belleville’s weirdness. Perhaps it’s something in the water. Or the air. I do hear a lot of Belleville people putting down their city. “Oh, we’re just the place people drive through to get to the Sandbanks,” is a common refrain. And "They're just stopping here to charge their Teslas," is another.
There are a lot of Eeyores here too. “I’d look on the bright side if I could find it.”
But there’s more to weirdness than negativity and insularity.
So here’s my working theory: there’s a secret pact that true Belleville’ians sign. They want to protect their community from invaders, especially those escaping Toronto. They want to keep their little slice of paradise intact. And they cultivate a subterranean weirdness, complete with secret codes, because they know they’ve got a good thing going here. They put up a fog of negativity to keep outsiders at bay.
That’s my theory. Sticking to it.
Alas, Bill and I were never Belleville insiders. I suspect it’s because we were also Prince Edward County people, so our loyalties to Belleville were questioned. We never quite made the cut. The bottom line is that we didn’t always find The Friendly City to be – um – friendly.
I applaud and celebrate Belleville’s weirdness. Perhaps I was able to see it more clearly because I was on the outside looking in.