A “last stop of sorts on a scenic but lonely part of the province,” Mount Forest has become known as a “dumping ground” for murderers.
That was the horrible take of the Toronto Sun’s Brad Hunter in a garbage “column” last week about the disappearance and murder of Monica Chisar, whose remains were found north of the town in December. To add insult to injury, he includes this description of the town: “It is painfully quiet except for the Tim Hortons, which always does a bustling business.”
It’s a typical effort from Hunter, who regularly rants insensitively about murder and crime, often quoting “experts” to try to bring legitimacy to diatribes so sensationalized and nonsensical they’d be better suited to the National Enquirer. It’s hard to find the point in his writing, but everyone has an opinion, I guess.
In his “column” Hunter specifically mentions three crimes: the death of Chisar (now determined to be a murder; the OPP and Hamilton police are investigating), the 2009 rape and murder of 8-year-old Tori Stafford, and the 2002 murder of Gregory Lembke.
Of course, none of those individuals’ bodies were discovered in Mount Forest (Chisar’s remains were found in Southgate), and three incidents in almost 20 years hardly constitutes a pattern, but Hunter proceeds nonetheless to smear the nearest town as nothing but a dumping ground for bodies.
“There is nothing insidious in the town’s water,” Hunter adds in an obvious yet failed attempt to placate locals who may stumble upon his tone-deaf prose.
“Like real estate, the area as a dumping ground is all about location, location, location,” he states in a cringe-inducing addition, before quoting an “expert” who notes, “Mount Forest is unwittingly situated and that makes it a body disposal site.”
What does that even mean? The rural area surrounding Mount Forest is, quite frankly, not all that different from innumerable rural areas scattered throughout Wellington County – and indeed across the province. It’s neither “lonely” nor a “last stop.” In fact, there’s quite a lot out there beyond Mount Forest, as much as it may seem like the end of the world to a Toronto-based tabloid writer.
It makes little sense to single out Mount Forest, even less so if you have any idea how painful and devastating the incidents cited by Hunter were to people living there.
We suggest Hunter take a sojourn to the area to discover all it has to offer outside of times of tragedy. Perhaps he could take in the Mount Forest Fireworks Festival, check out local fairs, dine at a local eatery, take in a Patriots hockey game, visit an area farm or downtown business, or enjoy the countless other local amenities.
Due to COVID-19, it will be some time before much of this can be done, and by then I’m sure Hunter will have long forgotten about Mount Forest.
It’s yet another case of a big-city “journalist,” siloed off from the rest of the real world, passing judgment on the poor bumpkins in small-town and rural Ontario. It’s not the first time it’s happened, and sadly, it won’t be the last.
But that doesn’t make it any less shameful.