It Can Only be this Place* – Blönduós in June Edition 

Sylvie Stojanovski

To get to know a place is to become enchanted by its ordinariness 

attuned to its subtleties

textures, colours, shapes, sounds, smells

textures, colours, shapes, sounds, smells

To get to know a place is to 

look out a window

open a door

step outside, 

and notice–

what has been there all along. 

According to Daniel R. Williams and Susan Stewart, authors of the article, Sense of Place” (1998), a sense of place can be defined as “the collection of meanings, beliefs, symbols, values and feelings that individuals and groups associate with a particular locality” (p. 19). For me, place has been a constant in a world that feels so uncertain. 

I grew up in the same city my whole life–Scarborough–an inner city suburb of Toronto, a place of cascading ravines, asphalt roads, and meadows. Although in recent years, I’ve travelled often between Canadian cities and provinces for school and work, I found that travelling to Blönduós felt surprisingly disorienting at first. I was taken by the town’s proximity to the Blanda river. The presence of the mountains. The vastness of the sky. Unlike in the big city, where the day is met with a sense of urgency, in Blönduós, the day unfolds slowly, then all at once, like a dandelion bursting open from flower to seed. 

In this blog post, I consider what are some of the simple but extraordinary things that make Blönduós Blönduós? What are some of the things that give Blönduós its “sense of place”? What will I continue to remember long after I leave?

Walking path lights near the Blanda River with yellow orange crustose lichen. 
Shell and rock “gardens” on curb sides.
Painted rocks near the grocery store. 
Harðfiskur-a traditional, Icelandic dried fish snack.
Almond custard-filled pastries.
Jumping on the trampoline.
Yarn bombing. 
The sound of squawking birds. 
Lupin. Lots of Lupin. 
The Blanda River.
The midnight sun. 

* Note for the reader: The title and inspiration for this blog post came from an exhibition I attended at the Doris McCarthy Gallery in 2018, under the same name. It Can Only Be This Place, curated by Tiffany Schofield, drew attention to some of the quintessential things that make Scarborough Scarborough (from its delicious cultural cuisine to its infamous blue-car light rapid transit system)… Perhaps I’ll make a post on that another day, when I return home.


Schofield, T. (Curator). (2018). It Can Only Be This Place. Doris McCarthy Gallery.

Williams, D.R. & Stewart S.I. (1998). Sense of place: An elusive concept that is finding a home in ecosystem management. Journal of Forestry, 96(1), pp. 18 -23.