a peek inside the fishbowl

15 Aug, 2014

What it means to be a neighbour

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

A read a great article over at Macleans this morning and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. In fact, I’m planning on reading it again while I’m not on the treadmill and my deadlines have passed. :) The end of neighbours is about how our relationships with our neighbours are slowly eroding and how this spills over and affects other parts of our lives. It’s a brilliant piece, but it has left me feeling a little depressed.

Read it, and let me know what you think.

Do you have a good relationship with your neighbours, or not? I’d love to hear your good neighbour story if you have one. Maybe it will inspire others to be good neighbours as well. After all, a good neighbourhood is all about good neighbours, isn’t it?


6 Responses to "What it means to be a neighbour"

1 | Sarah McCormack

August 15th, 2014 at 10:03 am


I find that sad too. I live on a great street where we all look out for each other. twice a year we have a street party- a winter wine & cheese is thrown by a lovely (older) couple in their home, and a summer garden party by another (older) couple. neighbours of all ages are welcome and it’s great to touch base with everyone. We also do community gardening..with 2 traffic circles on our street that several of us take care of planting and watering. this is a great way to bring people together.

Living in a neighbourhood and enjoying these unique relationships is one of the joys of my life.

2 | Chrissy

August 15th, 2014 at 11:00 am


I live on the best street. We have community dinners – someone is cooking a chicken, another has stuff for a salad, another has a side-dishe – and dinner just happens. Many nights we just hang out on the street and chat way past the kids’ bedtimes because the adults are having too much fun.

Just this past week I was dog-sitting for one neighbour, feeding 5 cats in two different houses, and taking out a vacationing neighbour’s garbage. Did I mind? Not in the slightest! I know they’ll all be there for me when I ask.

3 | Kristen

August 15th, 2014 at 12:58 pm


We have the BEST street with the BEST neighbours. Its the first place we’ve lived that actually feels like home. A lot of us are close to the same age (within 10 years) have similar aged children, and we are basically all family. The kids all play together on the street almost every single night; there are many weekend get togethers that happen spontaneously; we look out for each others kid; look after houses for each other; lend/give basically anything to anyone who needs it – heck, we’ve even recycled kids toys around to different aged kids on the street. My neighbours are my very best friends, and for some of us, who have a significant other that travels a lot – the neighbourhood is a life line.

4 | Laurel

August 16th, 2014 at 8:17 pm


I have a lot of opinions on this dynamic–so will point form a few:
I think you can outgrow a neighborhood (just like with friendships sometimes). I think that what is good at one time in your life may not be at a later date i.e. picking a young suburban neighborhood where everyone has young children and schools close by and then your children grow and noises and other things begin to bother you that didn’t before as you are at a different place (and so time to move on).

I think neighbors and being neighborly is partly dependent on the type of neighbors you have. If you have a neighbor that is not respectful and all that goes with that, you can be turned off being neighborly-especially since houses are generally so close together.

You have to be willing to take the “good” i.e. instant kids for your kids to play with, impromptu bbq get togethers etc with the “bad” i.e. neighbors that use theirs and your driveway as a storage pod, neighbors that don’t respect your property or teach their children to.

I think you just need to know what you want and need from your neighborhood and choose your place to live accordingly.

You want different things at different stages of your life. For me, in University and after when we were single, young and didn’t have children we lived downtown. We also lived on a military base where the sense of community was huge but also came along with no privacy and people always at your house which we loved but then outgrew. Then we wanted to buy after having a child and wanted as much as we could get for our dollar and a yard and good schools so we moved to suburbia-I outgrew that quickly—but stayed longer. And now we live more rural but still close to everything but have lots of property and eventually we will live in the city again for the lifestyle more than the neighborhood. By this I mean I will give up some of the space I have now both inside and out, for the other great things a city neighborhood gives me.:))))

There, that’s my jumbled take:)

5 | Laurel

August 16th, 2014 at 8:18 pm


P.S. and one must be careful to become best friends with a neighbor, especially if kids are involved because IF things really go bad…someone has to move:) giggle

6 | Glen Gower

August 17th, 2014 at 9:14 am


We have a great relationship with roughly half of our neighbours, and absolutely no relationship with the other half.

So what’s going on with the “other half”?

There are probably some cultural barriers – either they’d prefer to remain private, or there’s a language barrier that contributes to shyness/apprehensive about interacting

But I think the biggest factor: Many of the “other half” are never outdoors. I never see them with kids or dogs or shovelling or walking to the mailbox or sitting on their porch. I don’t understand how you can live in a neighbourhood but not make any effort to live beyond the front door of your house.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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