Travel & Culture » Ontario

Small Ponds featuring Roy McGregor

If I had to choose a place to grow up all over again, I’d go right back to the original.

Your name? Roy MacGregor.

Home (or adopted) towns?  Whitney and Huntsville, Ontario.

Population? 700 in Whitney and 18,000 for the greater Huntsville area.

Years in residence? Whitney: 0–2. Huntsville: 2–23.

Where do you live now? Ottawa.

Local school attended? Huntsville High School.

Class of 19–? 1967. It should have been 1966, but I enjoyed it so much I stayed an extra year.

Local jobs held? Christmas tree pruner, plumbing sales at Eaton’s, Globe and Mail delivery.

Your pastimes there? Hockey, lacrosse, baseball, fishing, hunting, canoeing, camping, sleeping in, standing along the wall at Teen Town dances.

Favourite hangouts? “The Wall” at the top of Main Street. The Tastee Freez.

Best French fries? Peter’s Restaurant.

Favourite nature walk? The Lookout.

Best date spot? The Lookout.

Favourite sports team? Huntsville Merchants ball team.

Best swimming hole? Chubb Lake.

Best place to get in trouble? The rink.

Favourite rink? Only one: the Huntsville Memorial Arena.

Nicest road for a hike/bike/drive? Limberlost Road.

Your town’s claim to fame (before you)?  Birthplace of “Twinkletoes” Selkirk, who took Babe Ruth’s position with the Yankees when Babe retired.

Unofficial/suggested town slogan? “Home.”

What part of this place do you wish you could bring with you on the road?  My best friend, Eric Ruby.

Last time you were home? Yesterday.

Your local mentor, if any? Mern Parker and Clyde Armstrong (teachers). Bob Hutcheson, my first employer.

How has this place contributed to your career? Lots of great storytellers to listen to and learn from.

Why do/did you like living there? Or what do you like about this small town compared with the other places you have lived? An amazing cast of characters, a beautiful setting, friendly and charming.

What else do you want people to know about this place? It cares.

Last words? If I had to choose a place to grow up all over again, I’d go right back to the original.


Roy MacGregor has a shelf of over 50 books behind his mighty name. He is the author of A Life in the Bush, Canoe Lake, Last Season, Canadians: A Portrait of Canada and Its People and Home Team: Fathers, Sons and Hockey. He also wrote Screech Owls,a wildly popular mystery series for young readers.

His journalism honour roll runs even longer, with two National Newspaper Awards, National Magazine Awards, an ACTRA Award (best television drama writer in the country), and a Governor General’s Award nomination (in 1996 for Home Team). In 2005, he was named an officer in the Order of Canada.

Roy has had bylines in the National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and Maclean’s. He writes about his love affair with (in no particular order) dogs, hockey, ghosts, canoes and the legacy of Tom Thomson.

He has been dubbed a “national treasure” by the Globe and Mail and “the heir apparent to Peter Gzowski” by CBC darling Shelagh Rogers.