I do think geography is profoundly influential, both in a geopolitical and a personal sense, and that belief hasn’t changed much over the years although my location certainly has. I think the greater change is my move to an urban environment after many years in a small towns (Ryley, Drumheller) or rural (Ottawa Valley) locations. But even in the city, I’m very conscious of the location in the city. I live on Beacon Hill, the highest point of land in Ottawa. The terrain is rocky, so it’s hard to garden. The remains of old rock quarries can still be found. It’s close to the Ottawa River, and gets its name because it was a signalling point (beacons) for traffic on the River for centuries. Because it had strategic importance, much of the nearby land was used by the federal government for military purposes, first a rifle range and then a major army base. Ottawa’s first airport was built here but was moved south of town when jet engines (and much-longer runways) came into use. Because the government held large swathes of the land, it was used for institutions that required space. The old runways and hangers are part of the National Aviation Museum. Nearby is the campus of the National Research Council (and the beginning of the long dash). And, important for me, now the home of the newly-constructed headquarters of Canada’s intelligence agencies, CSIS and CSEC, which are the focus of the book I’m working on currently. For me, intelligence, however you interpret it, is always grounded in location.
- Monty Reid, in interview with rob mclennan over at Open Book Toronto. You can read the whole thing here.