The Hometown

Ridgetown, Ontario
Friday, February 10, 2017

I lived the first eight years of my life in Ridgetown, this small town in southern Ontario, once the home of Canadian Canners and Silcox Hardware, and the Kent Dairy Bar that sold Cherry Cokes. This is the place where the hill on Erie Street down one block from Main Street to Tiffany Street was a big hill. Truly it was, but maybe my seven year old legs helping my big brothers pull a wagon load of newspapers up that hill imagined it to be more Everest than it really was. It is still difficult to believe that this little bump could ever have been called a hill.

Ridgetown is where milk was delivered in glass bottles to our door, lots of milk as well as many loaves of sliced bread to feed our ever expanding family. We were up to seven children by the time we moved from Ridgetown to Simcoe in the spring of 1959.

The last time I was here, which is several years ago, I knocked at my friend, Doug’s door but did not find him at home. This time I emailed well in advance to see if he would be here. Alas he and his wife would be in Mexico, but friend from long ago that he is, he said we could stay in their beautiful home anyway.

After a three hour drive from deep snow in Owen Sound and snow fogged air past acres and acres of flat fields, we arrived in Ridgetown where there is not one snowflake to be found, but a bitter wind chilled us as we walked up and down Main Street, I looking for stores from my childhood and Brilynn chuckling at my side as we saw empty shell after empty shell. There are not many stores still operating in downtown Ridgetown. The cinema where I saw my first movie, The Ten Commandments, I think, is gone. I think the Foodland parking lot occupies that space. I cannot imagine how this Foodland can be open twenty-four hours a day, but obviously someone thinks that this is profitable.

The dairy bar is a laundromat with a row of empty stores beside it. The hardware store on Main Street has disappeared. A Home Hardware exists on the edge of town, on the way to Morpeth. Only Mitton’s Jewelry store survives, dating back to 1876.

Tiffany Street was only ever one block long. This has not changed, although our house at 5 Tiffany Street could really use a fresh coat of paint. The sidewalk is the same, still as narrow as it was when I first learned to ride my new red two-wheeler. The backyard seemed smaller although I only viewed it from the street. Someone appeared to be at home. Tempted as I was to knock on the door, I did not. I wanted to retain my childhood memories of the interior.

Faye’s house at 6 Tiffany Street seemed smaller. I could still picture Bert in his tidy workshop.

We drove to St. Michael’s School, only one kilometre away. I am sure I remembered it twice that distance. Of course it would have been in miles then. The two room school has mushroomed into something bigger that did not at all resemble my first school. St. Michael’s Church has not changed.

Sadly the Carnegie Library was demolished and replaced with a plain red brick one floor building with no character. Across the street the lawn bowling is still available but no one was hanging about on this cold windy day.

The Ridgetown Ag School is now a satellite campus of Guelph University and is quite possibly the only business in town that has grown. It even spawned a Tim Horton’s beside it.

Canadian Canners long gone, is now the setting for some storage units and a few small bungalows.
Yecks appear to have the eatery business in hand with three different restaurants, the latest of which is licensed. We went to the unlicensed Grill that advertized yellow perch on Fridays. We entered the restaurant at the absurdly early hour of 5:10 PM. There were only a few empty tables. It is definitely the senior crowd that dines at this time. There were two children younger than Brilynn present.

The servings were generous. My yellow perch was good. Brian and Brilynn would have liked their ribs to be warmer. Dessert was included: rice pudding or jello. The rice pudding was enhanced with whipped cream and cinnamon but was cold and lacked raisins. Sigh!

Back at Doug’s we relaxed playing Hand and Foot. Brilynn and I let Brian win both games.


Changing Landscape

January 27, 2017

It has been snowing on and off in Niagara Falls today. We saw a little sun this morning but mostly it has been cloudy and cold. At 2C, no snow is accumulating on the ground.

We went shopping at Costco this morning, arriving shortly after the 10AM opening time. The parking lot was packed as was the store. Although I am not a frequent Costco shopper, I do not think I have ever seen so many people lined up for the checkouts. Am I missing some big gift giving holiday? Are people stocking up for a potential blizzard? Do people just like shopping. It is Friday, not Saturday; we did not expect such a big crowd. Is it this a new holiday?

Brian was so impressed with the Bose speaker that Peter had, that he bought one this morning. They were on sale at Costco, a good deal for his birthday gift.

This afternoon we went shopping at the Outlet Mall. We only went to our three favourite stores: Eddie Bauer, Solomon’s and Icebreaker. The salesperson at Eddie Bauer said, “I just love to see you two come in here. You are always wearing our clothes.” It is not as if we visit every day but we could well have been in once every six weeks in the past year. The best deal of the day was a pair of merino pants at Icebreaker: $229 for $19.99. And they fit! Yeah!

This week I was telling our friends about the pool and building constructed over the pool at our family home. The St. Peter Ave family property has been deteriorating these past few years with new owners who have not loved and cared for it as we did. In the past couple of weeks a backhoe has been busy. I went by today and took some photos. Although the house is still standing, the forty trees of the cherry orchard are gone as are the willows, plum trees, blue spruces and every shrub and tree from the front and back yard. Only the cedar hedge and a few cedars close to the house remain. The backhoe was excavating the remains of the swimming pool today.

The house will also be torn down. Plans are under way for the construction of single family homes and townhouses on the two and a half acres. The last orchard in Stamford which used to be mostly orchards is history. This is the third house I lived in that has been demolished: two in the past six months: this one that my parents owned for forty-five years and Brian’s and mine in East Linton. Our Calgary home was torn down to make way for a high rise condo. We have not been back to Calgary to see that changed neighbourhood.

My sister, Rosemary, is coming to join us for a roast chicken dinner. I have chocolate chip cookies ready for baking.

I did not swim today. 😦

Thankful for Memories

Cobble Beach

October 8, 2015

Happy birthday to my youngest brother and our wonderful daughter-in-law!

I have been closely following my friend, Fran, and her five female companions as they walk the Camino Frances. The Canadian Chicas are on Day 29 of their journey. One of the Chicas has been posting photos with one-liners to describe this awesome journey. I am basking in the memories of our trip as I watch progress toward Santiago, some 220 kilometres still to go.

They started with a more modest measured approach than we did, but then they also gave themselves forty-two days to complete their pilgrimage. Now at Day 29 they are where we were at Day 24, but they are picking up the pace. They completed twenty-eight kilometres yesterday, their longest day to date. I applaud them each step of the way. I think they have already dealt with more blisters than we did, but will not be defeated.

From the photos, it appears that they are wearing more clothing; thus, they have been experiencing cooler temperatures. They have already had more rainy weather but have not yet reached Galicia, the rainiest province. I wish them sunshine!

Whatever the weather they will continue to meet a host of international characters and they are participating in an incredible adventure. I still smile at the memory of ours, flip through our photobook, marvel at electronic images and forget about the aches and pains that formed some part of walking.

Next week we are going to visit James and Danielle, two of our Camino friends, in their home in North Hatley, Quebec. We are excitedly anticipating this reunion.

We had an email this week from two other Canadian Camino buddies. No dust is settling on Susie and Kanji. They walked 84 kilometres, paddled a canoe 450 kilometres then biked 880 kilometres around Lake Ontario, all in sixteen days. For anyone who thinks this type of triathlon might only be for a much younger couple, think again. Kanji and Susie are older than us. We are only as old as we think we are. Keep those bodies moving! There is much fun to be had!

I have renewed my weekly long walks of thirteen to sixteen kilometres with four friends. We have been hiking combinations of blue and white Bruce Trail sections in this area. I try to plan circular hikes and mostly this has worked. I am also trying to fit in completing other sections of the Bruce Trail, twenty or so kilometres at a time.

Inglis Falls

Inglis Falls

Circling the Slough of Despond

Circling the Slough of Despond

Still golfing

Still golfing…a practice swing…that is why the ball is still on the ground. 🙂 

Margaret and Rachel have been helping me complete parts of Iroquioa when Brian and I make our biweekly trips to Niagara. I would like to work on sections of Dufferin and Toronto. Any takers?

Happy thanksgiving to all! We have so much for which to be thankful!