Why I Live Here: AURORA
Marina Nemat’s books have been published in 28 countries, but the place where this Iranian-born Zoomer feels most at home is Aurora, Ont. Nemat’s international bestseller Prisoner of Tehran was nominated for CBC’s Canada Reads 2012 competition and has been adapted as both a play (running this month at Toronto’s Theatre Pass Muraille) and a feature film. The award-winning author, whose second book, After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed, is out in paperback, has lived in Aurora with her husband and two sons for 19 years. Though her children have moved out, Nemat explains why she has no plans to leave the community.
BY: LISA BENDALL
Why did your family settle in Aurora?
When we came to the greater Toronto area in 1991, my oldest son was two and ill with a serious kidney disorder. We rented an apartment in Richmond Hill to be close to a children’s clinic that was open on weekends. When we were thinking of getting a small mortgage….we thought, let’s go north because the prices are lower. We walked around downtown Aurora and thought this is a really nice, quiet, friendly neighbourhood.
Why do you plan to stay even though the kids have grown up?
I love Aurora. We are really happy here, we love our house and we love our neighbours. The community is reason enough. And it is still a very safe, happy, quiet place. In summer, I sit in my backyard and enjoy my garden. It gives me hope, when the snow melts in April and you see the tulips in the soil. I’m not going to give that up.
What are some of your favourite things to do?
I’m not a sporty person – we have ice skating arenas and swimming pools – but my thing is going for walks. We have a nice wooded area called Shepherd’s Bush with walking trails and a creek. In spring, they tap the trees and have maple syrup tours. Our favourite restaurant is Graystones. We eat there fairly often. My husband’s background is Hungarian, and we love schnitzels – and they make the best schnitzels I have ever had.
Tell us about the writing space in your home.
I write in my bedroom. I have a big desk between two windows, so I get a lot of natural daylight. It’s a very quiet street, so I don’t get a lot of noise … I have a light green shade on the walls, and a lot of photos of my favourite places in the world and my favourite people in the world. It puts me at ease when I’m writing.
Would you recommend Aurora as a place for Zoomers to call home?
It depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for something cozy yet not too far away, one of the beauties of Aurora is its central location. I speak at a lot of high schools east and west of here. You’re able to travel anywhere on the highways. If you want that cozy, small-town feel and to be able to enjoy the outdoors, then Aurora is perfect.
Marion Carcone of RE/Max York Group Realty Inc. has been in the real estate business for 23 years. She’s lived in Aurora since 1972 and tells Zoomer why she loves it.
“It’s clean, pretty much crime-free and upscale. It has great restaurants and wonderful boutique shops. You can’t go anywhere where you don’t know somebody. With the Go Train, people can commute down to Toronto and still be back in Aurora in 45 minutes.”
AT A GLANCE
Average home price
Southlake Regional Health Centre (7 km). Recent state-of-the-art expansion comprises cardiac, cancer, and digital imaging centres.
Newmarket: 8 km; Richmond Hill: 15 km; Toronto:50 km; Barrie: 57 km
Need to know
Amenities include a 10-screen movie theatre, quaint shops, restaurants, golf courses and hundreds of acres of parkland. Two sports complexes offer hockey, yoga and swimming. Newly expanded parking for Go Train and Bus service.
Arctic Adventure winter activity day
May art show and sale
Weekly farmer’s market and artisan fair
Canada Day parade
Heritage walking tours