Lynn Johnston is a giver. For more than 30 years, she has given us laughter with For Better or For Worse, her eminently relatable comic strip about family life. Today, the 65-year-old  provides artistic and financial support to a range of causes for people and pets. It’s fitting that this generous soul lives in a close-knit northern community where big-heartedness is a way of life.


Love at 2,000 feet

“We moved here [around] 1985. We were buying an aircraft and a friend who was a pilot said fly up to North Bay and have [a] look at it. We circled over Trout Lake and saw a gorgeous piece of property for sale that’s a two-minute drive to North Bay. The view is breathtaking. I have this massive panoramic view of the lake, and I can see right down into the city with the lights. My daughter lives in a different house on the same bay [with her] baby girl.”

Art imitates life … in North Bay

“North Bay was the model for the small town that [comic strip characters] John and Ellie lived in. The wonderful thing about living in North Bay is that you get to know the people who own the independent shops. I had a bookstore owner to talk to about running a bookstore and I knew a librarian I could talk to about working in a library. I had the resources right here. People are thrilled to help you out, and love knowing that a character was based on them.”

It’s in her to give

“I think it’s my duty. I’m a single lady, my house and car are paid off, my kids are gainfully employed, [so] I like to focus on my own town. We have some marvellous resources here that are run by people who make next to nothing and are on the job 24 hours a day. They do it because they’re driven to do good things. They’re the unsung heroes of our world. We have a beautiful waterfront with walking paths, and a whole team of volunteer gardeners, the Community Waterfront Friends.”

Why she’s staying put

“North Bay has all the amenities of a major city. The downtown is charming. We’ve got clean lakes, fresh water, fresh air. There are a number of things in town, including the theatre; live theatre in northern Ontario is better than anyone would ever imagine. There’s a place called Average Joe’s, which is a funky restaurant with big glass windows overlooking the lake. I’ll often take the canoe there for lunch. There are outdoor concerts, and a really nice farmers’ market every Saturday. We have a big sandy beach. I see no reason to move!” 


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