When I got back to Mariposa after my holiday jaunt, I found my host as genial as ever, and quite pleased with himself.
“I been busy,” he said, after shaking me warmly by the hand and wishing me a happy new year, which I reciprocated with equal feeling. “When the snow started coming I fired up the old byte-box and tried to answer some of those questions you put to me when last we talked.
I was interested, and said so.
“It turns out that the population of Missinaba County is 88,500 people, and the area is 895,000 acres, or, as this fancy calculator my wife got me for Christmas assures me, 3,600 square kilometres, if anybody cares, which I doubt they do. People don’t farm in square kilometres, they farm in acres, and a few who like to sit on the cutting edge may do it in hectares. I suppose 3,600 square kilometres is some number of hectares, but I haven’t bothered to figure it out.”
“That would be 360,000,” I suggested.
“How about that! Anyway, I broke these figures down for our newly amalgamated townships, so we can see how it all fits together. Here in Mariposa, with the town and township put together, we got 17,200 people in 77,500 acres, or 142 people per square mile. Ain’t that something!”
I agreed that it was.
“Now Waterways, the big new township east of us, has 18,350 people in 103,800 acres, or 113 people per square mile, unless you lump Mariposa town in with it, as some damn fools insist on doing, and then you get 26,800 people and 63.2 per square mile, reducing Mariposa Township to 8,700 people, or 72 per square mile, making it more like South Missinaba and Simcoe Shores, if you follow me. Kirkfield and North Missinaba, the other two, now, they’re a different matter: 4,000 people for Kirkfield and a density of 23, and only 1,600 for North Missinaba, or 5 per square mile.”
My head was spinning. “So what happened to all those eighteen townships, Eldon, Fenelon, Ops and the rest?” I asked him.
“Oh, they vanished into a cloud of amalgamations, bureaucracy gone mad. Mind you, it could have been worse. The City of Missinaba, I ask you! That was a cunning piece of work done by our mayor, Jo Smith, to keep that from happening. She talked ‘em out of it, or bullied ‘em, or bribed ‘em, or blackmailed ‘em, I don’t know how it was done. All of the above, maybe. She’s a terror when roused, and she sure was roused about that. There was no way she was going to let that happen without a fight. She didn’t get all she wanted, but she did pretty well. And she kept the Mariposa name from disappearing. That’s what folks around here particularly appreciate. She’s got a lot of support.”
“She any relation to old Josh Smith, who had the hotel away back when, and was MP for Missinaba for a while?”
“Sure. She’s his great-granddaughter. Poor old Josh. He was a small-town giant, but the city was too much for him. All that booze and high life in Ottawa. It torpedoed his liver before he’d done his first term. Sad. He was a wily old bugger, and a bit disreputable, but not bad, really.”
“And all those other folks, Pupkin, Pepperleigh, Thorpe, Drone, the rest, are their stories known?”
“Sure. Stick around, and I’ll tell them to you, but not tonight. It’s late.”