Greetings from what’s left of holiday cottages, a dance pavilion, and refreshment booths that once graced the traditional lands of the people of Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, land that’s part of the Williams Treaties, aka, the Whitby shoreline of Lake Ontario!
The holiday resort existed from about 1900 to the 1960s, with steamboats bringing travellers from Toronto for weeks-long holidays, and locals coming by horse and buggy.
I interviewed an elderly man many years ago, who told me he lived near the lake (the old wooden houses of ‘Port Whitby’ are still there) and how as a boy he would be sent to the pier when the fishing boats came in. He’d bring a bucket and a few coins and the fishermen would toss in a couple fish, enough for supper. He said the horses and buggies from town would be lined up and down the street to do the same.
I would love to hear stories also of when the Mississaugas lived on the land, and how it was they (were) ‘moved along’. No dance pavilion for them…
A friend of mine has lived here much longer than I have and remembers things being quite wild and woody. Much building since I arrived, but I also remember fields and woodlands running either side of main streets. Many of those fields are gone, but loads are still intact. For now. We’re lucky in that the countryside is still just a spit away, that the town is built around parks and ravines and has a river called Lynde Creek that runs through it, complete with salmon. I feel lucky to be surrounded by farms and (honest to goodness) farmers’ markets and that the lake shore remains mostly unsullied and the downtown, all leafy streets of Victorian era homes and shops, is walkable from where I live and takes me backwards through a century of neighbourhoods, from the 1970s to the 1870s. If you pay attention you can see how the town was layered, neighbourhood by neighbourhood.
It’s funny that we complain about the layering that continues. It’s nothing new, it’s been going on since we built towns and cities. It happens in cities too. It’s called condos. Still, it feels annoying, and whether here or there, the problem is the same, when there’s an imbalance of ‘building’, when too many houses/condos are built without thought to building neighbourhoods.
I have a thing about neighbourhoods.
I’m fascinated by how people live in them, how they make them home, how they adapt, how they’re different, and the same.
I have a thing about small and middle-sized towns, factory towns a lot of them, and those that appear, on the surface ‘to be not much’. Nothing against cities. I had to be dragged away from one. But even in cities, it’s always the less travelled side of the tracks, not the shabby chic side, but the authentically, downright seemingly dull side, the places where crowds don’t go, that I always discover the sweetest surprises.
But isn’t that what lazy summer days and postcards… and the sight of old concrete stairs at the beach… are for…
It’s too hot to overthink a postcard. Mostly just writing to say hello.
And happy summer. (happy rambling too!)
Other (not always) wordless friends:
4 thoughts on “wordless wednesday (summer postcards)”
What a fine tribute to … well … the past and the present as well. And thank you for your “wordy” post which solves what I first took to be a leafy mystery.
Yes I can see how it would have been a stumper. (:
What a tantalizing picture you’ve given of ‘your town’, Carin. I too love all the things you speak of and ponder the simplicity and complexity of neighbourhoods. And yes, the layering – it seems that layering done in a slow harmonious way works but the full-scale destruction-and-build-all-new-in-the-style-of-the-day generally doesn’t. But then maybe most things can settle in with a little adjustment given time. I don’t know.
Exactly. The way of razing the land and lack of planning a neighbourhood creates some eyesores…. however, and here’s the crazy thing: people live there, and LIKE it. And that’s what interests me, how they find the beauty in what doesn’t appear so beautiful at first glance. Kids are great at this. They find ‘magical places’ in the midst of a subdivision, a purple slide or the tiniest bit of green space becomes a wonderland. And those little hole-in-the-wall restaurants in strip malls that look like nothing but are gems! (We have one within walking distance that supplies us with curry and naan.) I’ve painted a lovely picture of a very ordinary town… but the loveliness IS there. It’s everywhere. We just need to pay attention. Well, who am I telling? You are the master of this. (I hope your knee mends well. I miss your western walking pics and discoveries.)