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GUEST COLUMN: Go where you will, five favourite places are right here at home

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Vanessa Hrvatin

Special to The Journal

This year I’m turning 24 and, to date, I’ve been lucky enough to live in many Canadian cities including Kingston, Ottawa, and Vancouver. But prior to my first move in 2010 to attend Queen’s University, I had spent my entire life—18 years—in Sarnia.

I’ll be honest. I was itching to leave Sarnia from the moment I started filling out university applications. I was tired of the small town feel and, despite Kingston having a population barely double that of Sarnia, I was excited to finally live in what I considered to be a big city.

Kingston fulfilled my dream of big city living, but only for a little while. After completing my undergraduate degree, I moved to Vancouver and then to the nation’s capital, both of which had much to offer in terms of entertainment, food, and opportunity.

But as time passed I began to realize that big cities, despite being great in so many ways, were lacking in some of my favourite things—Sarnia things—that I just couldn’t seem to find anywhere else. Sure there are beaches in Vancouver, but nothing quite compared to sitting on Skeeter’s patio in Bright’s Grove after spending a lazy afternoon at the beach.

After a lot of thought, I’ve managed to narrow down five of my favourite places in Sarnia that always remind me how thankful I am to call this city home.


  1. Canatara Park: Nowadays, I see Canatara as the perfect park to bike through and a beautiful place to attend a wedding. But when I was a kid, Canatara Park might have been the hottest spot in town–for me at least. From skating on the pond, to visiting the animal farm, to celebrating Canada Day, some of my best memories were created in this park.


  1. Ice Cream Galore: As an ice cream lover, grabbing a scoop of chocolate peanut butter cup and heading down to the bridge is a summer ritual for me (and my friends, because getting ice cream alone is no fun).


  1. The Sarnia Tennis Club: I’m pretty sure I grew up with a tennis racket in hand and my dad on my heels encouraging me to “keep your eye on the ball!” Whether I was competing at LSSAA, taking tennis lessons, or practicing with the St. Chris tennis team, the STC has always felt like home to me.


  1. Bright’s Grove Beach: There are countless beaches across the country, but the atmosphere and character of Bright’s Grove beach is one in a million.


  1. Point Edward Waterfront: I think you’d be hard pressed to find a Sarnian who doesn’t classify this as one of their favourite places. It’s certainly one of mine, particularly because it provides an excuse to get the best fries in town.


Vanessa Hrvatin is working toward her Master’s in Journalism at the University of British Columbia and just completed an internship at Canadian Geographic.



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