Kristy Holmes and Robin Moss

June 2019

When Kristy Holmes and her husband Robin Moss made the drive from the East Coast to Thunder Bay, they both spent the ride wondering where in the world they were going. Before arriving in Thunder Bay, they had spent the last decade or so going back and forth between England, Southern Ontario, and New Brunswick.

Kristy, originally from the Niagara area, met Robin in England in 2001 when she was living and working in the country after completing her Master’s degree. They had mutual connections which led to both Kristy and Robin going out on the town one night with the same group of friends.

“We were in Leeds, in West Yorkshire, and I just kept bumping into him,” says Kristy. “I ended up working with his brother at the Gap, and Robin often stopped in to meet up with his

“We were friends for a couple months and I invited him to my work Christmas party. We would just hang out – we’d go for coffee and to pubs.” After she completed her Master’s, Kristy set off travelling around Europe.

“I didn’t mean to meet anyone, but I knew I really liked him. I ended up buying him a plane ticket to Barcelona for Christmas so he could come and meet me there.”

After her trip around Europe, Kristy returned to England and lived with Robin, his brother, and his brother’s partner for a while before she started her PhD back in Canada at Queens. She would return to England to see Robin and to work during the summers.

Robin spent several years working as a server. He went to University in England, focussing on English and Music.

“We had been doing the long distance thing for a few years. We couldn’t legally live and work in each other’s home countries for any extended period of time, so I thought it was time we got married,” Kristy says. “I suggested it on the phone to him, and he agreed. That was our engagement,” Kristy laughs.

“He was like, ‘I feel bad I didn’t ask!’ afterwards, but I just told him, ‘who cares!’” “We used our wedding money to pay for his immigration,” says Kristy.

It was a tough and hectic time for Robin when he emigrated from the UK, as his dad fell very ill after a seizure during the same time that Robin was planning to move. He traveled back and forth until his father passed away from cancer within a year of his seizure.

Once Robin arrived in Canada to stay in 2008, the couple first lived in New Brunswick as Kristy was teaching there.

Kristy interviewed for her position as Assistant Professor at Lakehead in the summer of 2008. “We knew nothing about Thunder Bay. I had never been here before, but they offered me a tenure-track position.”

Kristy has been working at Lakehead as an Associate Professor of Art History for eleven years now. She and Robin have three young daughters and have made the city their home.

“It really is more affordable here,” says Kristy. “Housing is more affordable, daycare is more affordable. It’s easy to drive, it’s easy to bike. Everything is accessible. We also love the landscape. I grew up on Lake Ontario and I have an attachment to the great lakes, so living on the lake is something that I love about being here.”

“I appreciate living in a community with a very visible Indigenous population,” Kristy tells me. “Living here, I’ve become more aware of the crises that the Indigenous population face than I think I would be if I lived in a place where there wasn’t such` a visible, strong Indigenous community. So much of what’s in the news is a reality here. I see the effects of colonialism every single day, so it’s just really made me more aware. I think it’s important for my kids to understand that they were born on Anishinabe land.

I think this understanding plays a role in working toward a path to reconciliation.”

Kristy learns a lot from the Indigenous students she teaches and she strives to do all that she can to make their university experience a positive one.

“I don’t know if I’m quite there yet, but it’s pushed me to be a better academic and scholar. It’s important for me to be accountable to my Indigenous students and to offer and develop curriculum that is relevant and meaningful to them.”
Robin also finds a lot to enjoy about living in Thunder Bay. He’s a musician at heart and is very active in the city’s music scene.

“As a lifelong instrumentalist, songwriter, and performer, music is not a pastime or a hobby, it’s a compulsion – it’s my passion, my therapy, my social life,” Robin tells me.

“When I emigrated from the UK to Thunder Bay 11 years ago, I had no family or friends here at all, so it was important for me to break into the music scene as quickly as possible,” he says. “Thankfully, the people involved in the scene here are incredibly welcoming so it didn’t take long to meet like-minded people and build a bit of a network. Even now I’m constantly surprised by the level of creativity, diversity and musicianship on display.”

He currently plays in two bands – Cold Lake Sun and Ocean City Defender – and he performs with a couple of other projects more casually.

“From live venues, to musicians, to audiences, to local businesses, the passion and support for local music in Thunder Bay is astonishing,” says Robin. “On any given night of the week you’ll find live shows somewhere in town, whatever your taste. And bands actually get paid! To not play music is unthinkable to me, so I feel very fortunate to live in a place where it’s such an integral part of the culture.”

From their three young daughters, to music, to work, to spending time outdoors, Kristy and Robin are looking forward to a very full summer.

Cassandra Blair has a Masters of Arts in English Literature and is a regular contributor to Bayview.

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