Respect is a two way street ~ Opinion

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Dear Tourists of Muskoka,

I am a local. This is not my first rodeo in your seasonal playground. I have lived in other towns that you enjoy.

When I lived in the beautiful town of Collingwood, the sheer disrespect I noticed from tourists towards locals was commonplace. It was one of the reasons my husband and I left. We could not stand the rudeness from a small but loud minority of the visitors; the entitlement and condescension was appalling.

Locals in service seemed to be treated like trash everywhere you looked. People would even have the gall to complain loudly if “locals” dare shopped on a Friday.

Huntsville never struck me as the sort of place that collected disrespectful people on vacation. Living near Algonquin Park, I see and meet many polite families, singles and couples on nearby trails. There is a sense of relaxation and gratitude on the lakes compared to the hustle and bustle of the slopes.

Unfortunately, I have recently noticed the virus of rudeness spreading. I am sure the seasoned locals have more stories than I will ever be able to tell, but I thought I would share anyhow.

You may not be surprised that my story has to do with driving. To make a long story short, I was almost hit by a middle-aged driver who was trying to parallel park downtown. He failed to signal until the very last minute, did not wait for me to clear the way, proceeded to back into me and did not stop when I beeped the horn. Luckily, nobody was close behind me and I narrowly avoided his rear bumper.

When I confronted the driver with concern about him driving dangerously and inattentively, he responded with childish name calling and goading rather than a simple apology.

The woman he was with condescendingly explained that they were guests at ‘the Deerhurst’ and where they come from, this is how they drive. I reminded her that he had contravened the Highway Traffic Act and expressed that I was very concerned and frightened about his ability to operate a motor vehicle.

I then wished her a safe evening but promptly notified OPP as I could not believe that someone in a sober state of mind could drive so poorly and act so callously.

Even if this man was not impaired by drugs or alcohol, he was in no state of mind to be visiting our town. Visitors and residents of all ages were riding bikes and walking down the sidewalk, and his driving habits and conduct were very reckless and rude. When confronted about his behaviour, he displayed extreme disrespect. Name calling like a small child, and leaving a woman, who was not responsible, to deal with the consequences of someone who decided to call him out.

I know this is not how all tourists behave, but I hope that this is a message to future visitors that behavior like this does not go unnoticed.

Dear tourists, we want you to visit. We want you to enjoy the beauty of Muskoka. But remember – you are in our house now. Take off your shoes, respect the rules, and thank us for our hospitality. If that is too difficult, please feel free to park your Lexus somewhere else.

Sincerely,
Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick
A (new) Muskoka Local

Kaitlyn moved to Muskoka with her husband last June. She has experience in the tourism, recreation and sports industries. The couple have lived in multiple cities and are originally from Northern Ontario. They enjoy everything that Huntsville has to offer.

 

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35 Comments

  1. Henk Rietveld on

    Thank you. We desperately need our summer visitors, but civility and respect should be expected. We are not serfs to the landed gentry. Who, by the way, are very likely the “nouveau riche”, I.e., once as poor as the rest of us…but now somehow entitled.

    • Teri Enright on

      I also say thanks to Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s well-written opinion piece. I never understood the mentality of treating your vacation like an excuse to be different than you’d behave at home. Good on ya. Signed, former local Teri Enright.

  2. Sabrina Rivers on

    Thank you! From a life long local. This is our home year round. We stick it out in the winter. We shop local. Earn a linving in these towns. If not for us they wouldn’t have wonderful establisments to visit. A little respect for us and our home would go along way.

  3. Sandra Scott on

    I love Huntsville was my home town for 27 years…and lots of loving people there. And vety courtious townies..yeah Huntsville…

  4. Shawn Brogan Spencer on

    There are some nice tourists. Having said that and having lived in Almaguin and Muskoka full time for 25 years and half time for 45, I will say that many are rude, arrogant and condescending. But we will not call them out on it. We will continue to smile sweetly and make them welcome for they will not change and they butter our bread. If it is any consolation, I have now lived in Ohio for a number of years and they are just as rude at home.

    • Ryan McKeeman on

      Well, sometimes your actions warrant reaction. Claiming to be a “local” after just recently moving here is pretty pretentious. Put some work in.
      Calling the OPP for something like that someone nearly backing into you? Relax.
      I understand the “citiot” persona after living in Whistler for 15 years working in the service industry. On vacation, head unscrewed, don’t care about anyone but themselves. Just keep calm and carry on, give them 25% of your attention to make them feel special, get your tip and adios. I got fish to catch on the lake.
      But don’t walk in, claim local, and start stirring the pot. Contribute first.
      We all love our tourists as much as we hate them, but if you can’t deal with someone who can’t parallel park or give you some harsh words, you may need to grow some thicker skin.

      • Eveline Hastings on

        I agree with Ryan, please don’t call yourself local when it takes a long time to really understand our community. The person you approached may have been local also, how did you assume they were tourists until you actually talked to them.

        • I moved here full time 25 years ago after being a “summer person” all my life. I am still not a local. I was warned that unless I was born and raised here, I would always be an outsider. I am sorry to see, by Eveline’s letter that, it is still the case. Thank heaven I have loads of friends who are both local and new arrived. We all can’t chose where we were born.
          ellen

      • Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick on

        Hello Ryan and Eveline,

        I understand that you are “more” local and seasoned than I am. You know more about this place than I ever will. You have contributed to Huntsville’s economy for longer than I have. That being said, I hope you have not learned to accept mistreatment just because it is common. I know those who are still dependent on tourist dollars think they have to grin and bear it, but I felt like using the privilege of personally not having to depend on visitors for my income to say something that needs to be said.

  5. Jackie Turley on

    I have worked in the hospitality industry in Huntsville for decades and this year I retired as I felt I could no longer tolerate being treated like a piece of trash by the many tourists who come here with the attitude that I am here to do their bidding. I have been bullied and abused far too many times and enough is enough. I also wish that council would work toward bringing more industry into this town so that our residents were not dependant on the influx of rude tourists each summer in order to survive. I have never understood how people who are supposed to be relaxing and enjoying their vacation can be so uptight and down right rude. If their meal isn’t ready at the snap of a finger they break into a chorus of expletives and abuse that could make a sailor blush. Please leave your attitude in the city or wherever you come from and realize that those people cooking and serving your food, or that cashier at the grocery store are just trying to make a living. A little respect goes along way, Thank you and have a nice day🙂

  6. Joe Reuvekamp on

    I too have seen this “the Deerhurst”… It sas from afar and at night in winter but I will always remember the Godlike Torontosapiens grazing on the fruit of our labour. 😉

  7. Don’t we live in the land of “inclusion”, we’re supposed to put up with everything and everybody?
    I’m on your side…just making a point. Respect often seems to be a one way street.

  8. Bailey Norrie on

    Unfortunately this is a much bigger and prevalent issue. Growing up in Muskoka my whole life, I have seen the change in cottagers’ attitudes first hand along with family members who helped shape the Muskoka community. Although there are still some nice tourist the vast majority seem to think all of Muskoka is just a private resort only for their enjoyment. They completely disrespect locals, to the point I and several others are even told we shouldn’t be fishing in our own lakes we grew up swimming in. It has all gotten out of hand to the point that I loath working in the hospitality industry. Tourist and locals should be in Muskoka because they love the area, not because it’s a bragging right.

  9. Jan Provence on

    Over my almost 30 years of life in Muskoka I have observed many incidences of rude bombastic behavior directed at locals by our tourist guests. I have, on several occasions, even confronted the perpetrators of this poor behavior with various results from contrite to belligerence. I have heard myself saying that the behaviors are due to the stressful life they lead in the busy city and that it takes too long to “wind down” and feel the lovely calm of this wonderful place. However on reflection I have concluded that it is it really more simple. The bad behavior is not because they are tourists who have not yet wound down, it is because they were not raised to be courteous and respectful! Yes there are Muskoka residents who behave badly too but when we experience the influx of our summer visitors we increase the density of those who have chosen to forget or never had the skills of common courtesy and polite behavior. Let us lead by example and show kindness and hospitality to our visitors who, for the most part are a kind, courteous and respectful group. They love to be here as much as we do. When I next see bad behavior I will try to be a good example and help that person see me acting kindly and respectfully.

    • I agree with many comments here….but feel writing an article about one negative incident doesn’t solve anything.
      Many locals have a built in dislike of all “cityits”…
      Having moved here 11 years ago….I was warned I would never be a local.
      I have also seen terrible behaviour..prejudice…..and ignorance directed at “tourists” by “locals”.
      There are great locals…and there are also respectful, kind and fun tourists who have been part of our seasonal community for years.
      We live in in a “tourist” driven community.
      If you can’t accept that…grin and bear it….or better yet….be sincere….smile…be polite….and remember…it is a very short season….we don’t own Muskoka…we are just blessed to live here…and call it home. Then maybe living in a small tourist town isn’t for you.
      Take the high road folks and please stop complaining about everything our guests do.
      Believe it or not…they can feel your contempt and it isn’t becoming to Muskoka and the amazing priviledge we have of living here!
      Please relax….and try and enjoy your summer…instead of spending it uptight….stressed out…and complaining about the visitors who help put food on our tables…and roofs over our heads. Please try being positive and thankful.
      And to answer “the question”.
      Yes..I work in the service industry. I have my entire life.
      Part of bring good at it…is dealing with difficult people.

      • Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick on

        Hi Lynda,

        Thanks for your comment. My motivation behind this piece was not intended to paint all tourists with the same negative brush, as most are kind and respectful. This piece was intended to point out that rude and condescending behaviour from certain entitled tourists towards locals is not to be accepted. The opposite is also true – we owe respect and gratitude to our visitors, but I am focusing on a subtle and sometimes overt superiority complex that some visitors possess. I understand that a subservient mindset, positive attitude and a thick skin is essential for survival in the Service industry. However, your employer should be on your side when you are treated with obvious and abusive indignity, no matter how much money the person spends. Your dignity is more important than money, and any good employer understands this as stress on those in the service sector is notoriously prevalent. If employees feel empowered to defend themselves against abuse, I believe that this type of stress in the workplace will be reduced. You can be a great server with a kind and gentle heart and still be offended by extreme behaviour such as yelling and sexual harassment. Sensitivity to oppressive behaviour is natural. I believe that chiding those who experience anger over being mistreated is blaming the victim and not addressing the major issue here: some people think they are above you because of their perceived status. Accepting this as the status quo needs to stop, or the collective actions of these entitled bullies will keep on chipping away at the pride and self esteem of great people.

      • Jackie turley on

        No no and no….my family has been here since the late 1700’s have worked and laboured to establish this town..my partners family were instrumental in making this town what it is today..sorry but everyone deserves respect …tired of all of these people.. be they” citites” or the elitists so called locals…a little respect and decency goes a long way..and where are all these people who we apparently should be so thankful for, after thanksgiving ….please..same old same old…give me a break…our locals should not have to endure disrespect , rudeness, and abuse, just to make a living in this so called paradise..think about it

  10. Shelley Westgarth on

    There are just as many rude locals. (I can say this because I am local) I hate the idea of lecturing people who come to our town to spend their money here. I used to have a first row seat to people-watching at our little shack on Main. The number of times I was mortified when some yahoo would walk past, shirtless and screaming obscenities in front of a family with kids trying to enjoy an ice cream, might make you rethink lecturing tourists about bad behavior. It was a common conversation among our staff, “what crazy thing did you witness people-watching today?”
    Never lump people into a group. It’s not fair. I’ve met just as many super nice families who are thrilled to be here.

  11. I consider myself lucky that I now live here. The visitors are only here for a short time. I think what bothers me is, they are in such a hurry to get back to their cottage and only to sit. Slow down folks, and smell the roses.

  12. Wendy j Brown on

    I have seen two glaring incidents of tourists being kinda odd. I once saw a fist fight in a local grocery store of two women, one a local and one a tourist. All over the fact that the local woman was in line first and had a bunch of groceries and the tourist lady thought she should be able to go first cause she was in a hurry and not a local. Loudly proclaiming about how locals should be smart enough to know to shop during the week so they don’t inconvenience the visitors we owe so much to. Oh yeah, I also once saw a lady throw half a salmon basically at a cashier in a grocery store cause she wasn’t fast enough checking her out. The other incident was when I was driving downtown one evening after getting an ice cream cone for my 3 year old son. We had the right of way to go straight up the street at the Brunel lights and a tourist man turned right into the side of me. He was going fast. Well the police came for the accident and the officers were told how they better hurry up and get me charged because the man and woman had a restaurant reservation. Lol Well as I was in the right of way he got 2 charges, and told the officer that he would be contacting his superior. Those are my stories.

  13. Sylvia Purdon on

    There is one area that I think that we as local residents can improve our customer service to our visitors. We sent one of our people to the local supermarket to pick up a few items and he took more than an hour to accomplish this small shopping. He explained that he stood in line at the fast lane item check out, and waited and waited and waited. The problem is that the cashier had conversations with everyone who came through. This is not necessary and causes delays in getting a simple task like a few groceries done. A few kind comments, yes, but a protracted conversation. Get the job done and let us get out of the store! I too have observed this habit of talking too much at the point of sale. This is not good customer service. Keep the lines moving!

  14. Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick on

    Hello everyone, thanks for reading my perspective. Upon reading the responses, I wanted to address a few things.

    1. I know that I am not a “real” local as I have not lived here my whole life, so I understand the resentment from a few readers who have endured the hardships faced by seasonal fluctuations over the years. The people of this town who have served and toiled away to make a living have likely been treated way worse than this, and I understand that my personal experience is limited. For those of you who have had it worse, I hope you receive the respect you deserve in the future.

    2. I understand that people make mistakes when driving, as I am no perfect driver. I would not have confronted this driver the way I did if they would have admitted they did not see me or that they made a mistake. The driver’s response to my concern was so unapologetic, so insensitive and so belligerent, that I felt like (politely) speaking up. Yes, I could have just let it slide, but my personal property was at risk.

    3. Sometimes we may be tourists in other towns and may accidentally step on somebody’s toes, so I do not think it is wise to pick fights over every little transgression. However, In this case, the condescension and recklessness of this particular individual was so callous that I felt compelled to respond and ultimately share the experience.

    4. My hope is that visitors remember that locals are people too, and that rude behavior does not go unnoticed. Just because people spend money here, does not mean that they are entitled to break laws and disrespect others with impunity.

    5. To the majority of visitors (who show respect), thank you and welcome. I wish you all an enjoyable summer.

  15. Paula McIsaac on

    I sympathize with this incident as I am sure it scared you. And his behaviour was more than rude but surely it was a “driving” incident with an idiot who probably treats everyone the way he did you wherever he goes. However the reverse has happened to me. I moved to Muskoka in winter from Toronto 8 years ago and within my first week had an accident because of “an idiot” here. He pulled out from a stop sign without looking. I had the right of way and he drove into me. He had the nerve to say, “I pulled out and you didn’t stop.” I was furious and sat in my car til the police arrived. From that incident I have learned that there is a way to drive up here and that folks pull out expecting me to slow down and let them in. This would never happen in the city because people are driving 60-70 km on the main roads. So notwithstanding his boorish behaviour, it works both ways!

  16. Amanda Greer on

    I’ve lived here all my life. Yes some of the locals can be rude and disrespectful. Yes some of the tourists can be polite and super kind. But I’ve watched a lot more tourists curse and swear, belittle, demand, humiliate locals. I’ve seen them get mad at the littlest thing and scream at locals. I’ve watched them push past people because they had more “important” things to do. I’ve watched and been on the receiving end of them swearing and cursing at 15 year olds for being in their way. I’ve been there when they swore and cursed at the 15 year old taking their food order until she’s crying. I’ve seen and had to clean up after where their teenagers have left broken beer bottles, food, garbage, and then tried to blame it on locals. Yes, we depend on tourists for a big part of our economy, still when they think it’s completely alright to degraded, humiliate, and hurt locals.. Something’s wrong with that.

  17. Phyllis Mahon on

    OMG, how you’ve hit it on the head! I moved to a quiet, serene town about an hour from Toronto, in 2012. The first couple of years were great. Then Town Council decided to make our beautiful lakeside park ‘The Hub’ of our community. The park is at the furthest eastern edge of our municipality. There is a lot of Town in between to make a hub. Out-of-towners inundate our town every nice weather day but weekends are the worst. They park wherever the hell they want with obvious disregard for private property and resident’s safety. Boaters towing floats and jet skis roar into the shallow water of our beach areas. Hot coals from bar-b-ques are dumped in the grass, where the unwary, little kids or dogs, may walk. There are specified coal disposal containers for people to use but they can’t be bothered to walk over to them. They pitch closed-in tents on the sand and then dig pits 16” – 24” (40cm-60cm) deep, which they use as toilets – poop and pee pits, instead of walking to the washrooms. Then they go home, leaving their waste in these open pits – how gross! – for people and dogs to fall into, with the good possibility of breaking a leg. Smoke from cigarettes and bongs rival the bar-b-ques. They bar-b-q in restricted areas. They leave their garbage strewn for the poor birds and other wildlife to get entangled in and die. These are just a few examples of what goes on in my Town. There are so many more. It makes me sad. And, I just have to ask – where in the hell is By-law?

  18. Angela Friesen on

    May I congratulate you on having the courage to publish this piece! It is about time that someone addressed the ignorance and rude behaviour of those who visit the region. My husband and I moved out of Huntsville further north 5 years ago because we could no longer stand the tourists and shopping became a nightmare. Even now we avoid Huntsville as much as possible as it is impossible not to run into individuals who make a simple trip in to town a displeasure not to mention that as soon as the tourists arrive, Huntsville is sold out of everything you want or need!

    Thank you again for publishing this wonderful article!

  19. Ron Bartlett on

    I was born and raised in Huntsville..Left last year after 51 years there..went north and never looked back..a tourist town wears on you and it’s just getting worse..good write up but it’s a tourist town and that’s what keeps people working .

  20. Lorna Sommers on

    Just spent our very first week in and out of Huntsville! Glorious camping at Arrowhead Provincial Park brought us here for supplies, and to visit a couple of markets set up. Had a wonderful time and cudos to those selling, especially in the Canadian Tire parking lot, where we also visited the store. Great items purchased and the Canadian Tire staff was so super with us we made a 2nd trip to their store!! We are ‘country folk’, not from a big city… and I believe if everyone acted properly, they would be treated fairly. It does work both ways.

  21. Brian Tapley on

    Many comments so we must have a nerve close to the surface here.

    We need the tourist $$ for sure to pay the bills. I run a tourist resort so I appreciate this.

    On the other hand sometimes visitors seem bent on destroying the very things that attracted them here in the first place.
    Peace, quiet, clean and slower paced life style come to mind.

    Respect for the environment, the peace and quiet, the animals, private property and things like this need to be high on visitors lists.
    Things like 1000 watt stereos playing really poor rap music from a wake board boat are not generally appreciated.
    Littering, speeding, trespassing, and jet skis that circle endlessly and mindlessly in the sunset are generally not good things either.

    Slow down, enjoy the visit. Leave the noise and congestion of the bigger cities behind. If you want these things you should just stay in the city… like go to the CNE or Canada’s Wonderland… don’t try to drag this to the country.

  22. Julie Groomes on

    There are rude people everywhere, and I think we all need to be more understanding and tolerant.
    I’m sure the tourists saw your actions as rude. I know I really enjoy having my mistakes pointed out in public and my parking, although adequate, is not always the best. I always try and empathize. Maybe he was embarrassed because he made a mistake and felt a local was trying to humiliate him? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. It just never hurts to always be kind.

    • Kaitlyn Fitzpatrick on

      Hi Julie, thanks for responding. I understand that people do not like their mistakes pointed out, but when personal property is at risk, too bad for them. People need to pay attention, be considerate and follow the rules if they don’t want to be called out. I would not have confronted the driver if it was a minor mistake. However, the driver showed no sense of remorse for coming very close to seriously damaging my vehicle. All I did was ask him what he was doing, and if he was okay (code for sober). His error was a result of either inattentive, impaired or entitled driving. None of the aforementioned are welcome in a small but busy community. Instead of a “whoa, oops I didn’t see you”, I was met with swearing, insults and condescension. Why do we always have to accept poor and inconsiderate behaviour? Brushing off every single annoyance off is not “understanding”. Accepting everything without question turns us into passive aggressive people. Why not be assertive without being degrading? Don’t mistake tolerance for complacency.

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