There’s no love life like it for the amorous soldier at the Canadian Forces base formally called Four Wing Cold Lake. There, single men like Capt. Tarek Sardana have had to put their matrimonial quests on ice while stationed in the bachelor capital of Canada. “I mean, who are we kidding?” the eligible 29-year-old doctor says. “I moved to the wrong place if I wanted to meet somebody.” Sardana, an Ottawa native, is one of about 3,000 military personnel on the base, most of them men, skewing the sex ratios in Tri-Town—the local name for an area that includes the base and two nearby towns, Grand Centre and Cold Lake, 300 km northeast of Edmonton. Statistics Canada says there are about 158 single men, 15-49 years old, for every 100 single women in Tri-Town and the surrounding
Bonnyville municipal district. So what’s a single guy to do? “You end up doing a lot
7 moved to the wrong place if I wanted to meet
of sports on the weekend,” says Sardana.
Ray Coates, the 52-year-old mayor of Grand Centre—and a married man himself—has also noticed the refocusing of male energies. “A lot of the young guys hang out in groups doing guy kind of things,” says Coates, mentioning hunting, fishing, golf, pool, horseshoes and handball. Despite the local hormonal imbalance, Grand Centre (population 3,991) is not about to pass any bylaws to attract more women. “We welcome anybody to our community,” says Coates, adding—for good measure—that “single women may find our demographics attractive.”
When sports no longer suffice, men may resort to road trips. Edmonton is a three-hour drive away, but it has the right demographics—an overall average of 93 single men for every 100 women. “You end up in long-distance relationships a fair amount of the time,” Sardana says. That particular form of romance has its drawbacks—from the inevitable phone bills to the all-or-nothing life of stolen weekends. Says Sardana, a long-distance love veteran: “It’s almost like going from nothing to being married—from zero to a hundred miles an hour, then you go home and you’re by yourself again.”
And what about the women of Tri-Town? An 18-year-old like Michelle Simmons would seem to enjoy favorable odds. But, she says, it’s not the quantity but the quality that counts. “Usually, most of the guys, the good ones, are taken,” Simmons says. “And the other ones are real arrogant, and they’re just looking for one thing.” Even on the most slanted battlefield of the sexes, women are still looking for a few good men.
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