"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A DAY IN THE LIVES OF

Theresa called and said " I've never seen Niagara-on-the lake, why don't we go today"

I first thought " Ooh a day withTheresa ...Yea .....Then ...Oh....Niagara-on-the-Lake on a Saturday in August. then ....  a day with Theresa .....right ...let's go. 

We went. .... the long way. Across King, through Kettleby, Pottageville. Schomberg....over the hills on Highway 9 to Orangeville.  

It was a favorite Spring  break out after winter drive in the old blue station wagon ....when snow still lay in shady places. 

Over the hills and far away, before seat belts. The kids would tumble out on Main Street and round a corner for an ice cream at the dairy bar and stroll back licking cones and the drive home.

 Sometimes it would just be my gang. Often a friend or two came. One Sunday we went to Barrie and Martin's friend Gary Simpson packed in with us. They might have been ten years old. Best friends still both living in and have raised their children in Barrie.

Orangeville had a great wide Main Street and matching sidewalk.  People gathered in clusters enjoying the Spring sunshine and catching up on the gossip. We had to walk around them. I wrote a column about that once. Councillor Walt Davis told me that' s how it was in Aurora when folks came in at the week-end from the farms around to shop and gather on the sidewalks to catch up on the weeks news. Walt said if you needed to get anywhere, you had to step out on the road, the groups were so 
tight.

Collingwood and Lindsay  and many other Ontario towns have beautiful wide streets like that lined with stores that have been in business forever. 

Orangeville has taken up a third of the street's width with raised concrete islands in the centre.  A huge sculpture  of  the founder ,Thomas Orange in the first and a massive fountain in the second. No doubt a consultant  an architect and a ton of money were involved . 

 Oh my ...Oh well 

We drove  down Highway 6 through scenery as beautiful as any to be found. 

Theresa worked as a courier for a while . Driving is her element. I like it too but am content to be driven. Theresa now works for TTC and is currently involved with the new subway construction. There's always plenty to talk about.

We went through Elora to see what might have changed. My son Frank lived there for a while In his twenties. He had a hugely successful concert sponsored in the Elora Mill Hotel owned and created  by a friend and his wife. Rooms were beautifully appointed with  Mennonite furnishings ,quilts and crafted accents .

Frank lived in a lovely old building next door in excellent condition with a balcony over the river. 

Elora was founded by an army officer from Irvine in Scotland, the place I was born. He had served in India and named the village from a place in India. At an intersection, a swinging board sign on a building  caught my attention. I looked up and read " Irvine Lodge " 

 I had no idea of the connection until that moment. 

Frank had happy times in Elora. Everybody in the village knew each other and collectively did not enjoy the touristos. 

Other than the mill,the village had changed  little in over a hundred years.It was intriguing to think people who came there as pioneers would undoubtedly have known my grandparents and their families. Maybe I even had a distant relative who helped to create that community and built the old rusty disused bridge.

It has changed. The old village is still there but less visible. Touristos pack the streets and stores. tra
Traffic was horrendous, cars filled every space.The Elora Mill Hotel  is abandoned. Surrounded  by chain link fence and a rusty gate with a rusty padlock.  

We drove on to Fergus, to Guelph and down to Burlington. 

My brother lived in Burlington, raised his two sons there and died in Joseph Brant hospital. 

Stephanie played two Christmases pantomimes in the Burlington Arts Centre. She acted in two productions in the AtriumTheatre attached to GuelphUniversity,  a play in Fergus Theatre  that used to be the local movie house and graduated from Guelph University. Pamela Wallin gave the commencement address. She was Chancellor before she was a Senator.Theresa and I were there. 

We hit the bridge and  highway at Burlington and moved  at a crawl to the other side of St. Catherine's.

It's a nice town.  I held many appeal board hearings in a government building attached to the library across from the court house and shopped  in the Farmer's Market for fresh eggs and vegetableson  Wednesdays. 

Red brick houses,white paint trim,black shutters and roofs and wrought iron railings. My house is like that. There was a dairy bar there I with black and white tiled floor. And bar and high stools with red seats and booths.  They had the best hot rhubarb pie straight from the oven. The dairy bar was a chain and there was one on College Street just west of Yonge. 

My grandson Cameron is construction manager at an almost completed Arts Centre in St Catherine's. It's behind schedule and over budget. Initial bid was too high. Cuts  were made. Change orders during construction. Architects are not without fault. HIs next project might be in Kingston. 

Finally we were in fruit land. Seemingly mostly grapes and wineries. One named .... Organised Crime Winery. 

Vines in orderly rows and extremely well groomed. Can't imagine them lending anything to a Niagara Blossom Festival.  A craft beer festival was very well attended. There were ribs. 

Then we arrived at our destination. Much like Elora only more so. The lovely old homes can still be seen on residential streets but the green lawns that once surrounded them are fully built upon with more recent construction. Stores are reminiscent of Main Street,Disneyland and thronged with similar crowd density. 

Cars parked both sides on every inch of every street. Parking meters have an eight hour parking limit.

King Edward Hotel is spruced up. Stayed there once with Theresa's Dad. It was the welfare holding.
Room doors did not fasten well and the fire escape was a thick rope securely tied to a radiator in front of  the second floor window. We attended a Shaw play in the old court house a couple of doors down. The  audience was mostly American. Talked throughout. 

Last Saturday, we toured the town by car. 

It was a beautiful day. The best part being the drive over the hills and far away down to Lake Ontario. Theresa had never seen Niagara on the Lake and ahe never will now because it doesn't exist as it once was. Hotels and hostelries and commercial tourist attractions have obscured the past. 

On our next outing, we plan to drive to Tobermory and take a trip on the glass bottomed boat and visit 
some of the picturesque little towns situated on Lake  Huron. 

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a lovely day ! August beats July by so much.
Thanks for the ride, Evelyn.

Anonymous said...

All of my family are comfortable driving too. What began as a necessity living in a world of school buses and scattered towns
simply became part of their lives. You have to feel sorry for those who have known only the traffic of today.

Anna Lozyk Romeo said...

Evelyn, this is a beautiful journey connecting past to present, and creating more memories for the future.