'It's coming back': Smiths Falls residents talk the town's future

Whether they were born in Smiths Falls or adopted the town as their own, here's how people who live in the community describe it.

Meet some of the residents of Smiths Falls: a community fighting to rebuild

Angela Jenner runs a home daycare in Smiths Falls, Ont. She lives with her husband, who commutes to Ottawa for work, and her son Kieran. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

From families who have lived in the community for generations to new immigrants and young professionals looking for a change from the big city, there's more to Smiths Falls than you might think. 

Here's a look at some of the faces of Smiths Falls.

Angela Jenner and her son, Kieran​

"Everybody knows everybody. If anything happens, it's nice to know that somebody has your back. 

"I have friends who work in the city. I've worked in the city. The demand for child care in the city is a lot. In the city, you're dealing with 'there [go] my wages.'

"Here, you have that opportunity to do home daycare or not send your kids to a big elaborate daycare." 

Roger Sands

Roger Sands says the town of Smiths Falls is a 'fantastic community' that has overcome challenges and become a better place. (Elyse Skura/CBC)

"I think the biggest misconception is that [Smiths Falls is] a down-on-its-luck, hard-done-by town. I've been here for 40 years and I see it as kind of rising from the ashes after Hershey left and a few other large employers left. But it's coming back. It really is on the upswing. 

"I think it's a great place. I grew up in Toronto and when I go back to Toronto, I can't wait to get back here."

Emma Schellingerhoud

Emma Schellingerhoud, who works as a nurse, says Smiths Falls sometimes gets a bad rap from the surrounding communities, but it's not warranted. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

"I think it's a misunderstood town.

"There [are] a lot of issues here — and poverty. But I know that I have worked in emergency rooms in Peterborough, Perth and Smiths Falls, and I can see that their issues at the heart are the same. It's just that Smiths Falls wears its heart on its sleeve." 

Jasmin Haviland

Jasmin Haviland grew up near Smiths Falls and says the town is changing, with a more diverse and welcoming population and exciting community programs. (Elyse Skura/CBC)

"I feel that a lot of people are more optimistic than I've seen in a long time. Especially after the [Hershey] factory closed, everybody got so sad and demoralized.

"Getting to see the community bloom is really nice."

Laura Porter

Laura Porter's family has lived in Smiths Falls for generations and she can't imagine living anywhere else. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

"My family has been here since 1906 at a farm just outside of Smiths Falls in Montague.... Just growing up here I know a lot of people. I like that feeling of community. I like knowing people. I don't want to start over. 

"I joke with friends in Toronto about the commute. You can get anywhere [here] in probably five minutes, maybe seven minutes if you get the lights."

John Maloney

John Maloney, a town councillor for Smiths Falls, says the community has gone through tremendous change over the past few years. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

"Everybody talks about this friction that comes with change. I don't see it as friction; I see it as discussion.

"If you don't have a conversation about anything, things are rubber-stamped and they just go through. Having all the different types of people on council creates a conversation and that's how you get the best balance.

"I've been here for seven years and I've seen some great changes. I saw jobs disappear, but I've seen some great jobs come back.... With things going down, there's always things coming up."

Come visit us in Smiths Falls

CBC is in Smiths Falls from Friday, March 2 to Tuesday, March 6, looking for people who want to share the story of their community. 

Contact community reporters Elyse Skura and Matthew Kupfer, or drop by our office hours at 18 Russell Street.