Surfing The Past

In the past 6 weeks, it seems like I’ve had more occasions to be downtown than the last 6 years combined.

Yesterday was a big day for the volunteers of the Friends For Life Bike Rally as we began packing for tomorrow’s start of the 600 km ride from Toronto to Montreal.   Since the packing location was in my old stomping grounds, I headed down a bit early to wander around and see what had changed in my old neighbourhood.

Everything was so familiar … and yet, a little different.

The foot bridge over Rosedale Valley Road that I walked each day to and from the subway hasn’t changed.  I loved this walk – especially in the fall when the trees in the valley were blazing with colour.  In the summer, the air actually smells cleaner and cooler on the bridge up in the trees.

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Down below, Rosedale Valley Road can be seen … easily one of my most favourite streets in city.

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… and yet, the battle with the ubiquitous graffiti has changed and it is now street art … colourful and artistic.

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Like many other sections of the city, the edgier parts of my old neighbourhood are going through a gentrification.  Beautiful old buildings that were terribly neglected are now experiencing major restorations.  I was relieved to see they weren’t simply torn down like derelict buildings so often are.

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Prosperous businesses have moved into renovated locations giving the surrounding area an unfamiliar polished feel.

… but I was happy to find the little corner store I frequented was still there exactly as I remembered it.

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The major point of interest in my excursion was the little church where Gilles and I were married 32 years ago.

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I was thrilled to discover the doors were open and I was able to venture inside for the first time since our wedding day.  It was a lot smaller than I remembered, but the memories of walking through those doors as a 20-some year old with my Dad so very long ago were as clear as … well, yesterday.

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About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in Around Toronto, Memories and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

51 Responses to Surfing The Past

  1. A great neighbourhood but like so many of the old city neighbourhoods, gentrified. I’m always torn about this since I agree that it’s wonderful to see the heritage buildings restored but fewer can afford to live downtown these days. Glad though that you found so much still familiar.

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  2. Mrs. P says:

    Great trip down memory lane. So nice that many of the places are still around. My last trip back home found it so completely different. Now when I walk down memory lane I have to look at photos because empty fields are now fully immersed in the high tech lifestyle and mark. There is no question that it is part of Silicon Valley. Instead of where have all the flowers gone? I have to say where have all the orchards gone? In some ways it is wonderful to have been able to watch the complete evolution of the famous Silicon Valley.

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    • joannesisco says:

      I know what you mean about the changing landscape. When I first started cycling about 12 years ago, we didn’t have far to go to ride on quiet country roads.
      Many of those same roads now are busy thoroughways with large built-up suburbs. It must be a sign of age that we quietly mourn the loss of “what was”.

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      • Mrs. P says:

        It makes me understand conservationists a bit more…I just don’t want the landscape to change so much that it no longer holds that special place for me. So far, I’m okay with gentrification.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. lovetotrav says:

    Ahhh I am so happy that your reunion with a past place brought back fond memories and still looks and feels so special. That is so important when we reflect on our memories of places that had meaning for us. I too love to look up the corner store from my old haunts and make sure it is still standing and looks just as juicy as I once remember it. It looks like a beautiful area of Toronto… a truly spectacular city that I am growing to love.

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  4. Very sweet about the church where you were married and your Dad giving you away! Lovely pictures!

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  5. Memory Lane is such a great place to wander, especially if the old graffiti has now become street art. Loved visiting with you. Next time we must stop for coffee (gentrifying places always have decent, if pretentious, coffee shops).

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  6. agmoye says:

    I had a similar experience when I returned to the place I grew up after thirty-three years. Things were different yet some places I remembered were still there with different people. Sad but elated at the same time.

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  7. It is always nice to take a walk down memory lane. Good luck with your ride. I did a 25 km ride through farms yesterday and my legs were so, I admire your ambition.

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  8. Mama Cormier says:

    Great post. I really enjoyed seeing the photos of places I too have experienced. This makes me want to visit the church where I was married some 40 years ago.

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    • joannesisco says:

      You should definitely go back. It’s interesting how our memories of a place can be quite different from the reality … especially when the experience is our wedding day which is sooo emotional to begin with!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mama Cormier says:

        I tried to go back when my kids were little because I wanted them to have a Sunday school experience and I wanted them baptized. Guess what? They wouldn’t baptize them until I attended church regularly for awhile. A church closer to home was happy to baptize them and I ended up teaching Sunday school there for over ten years.

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  9. Lynn says:

    I can feel your sense of nostalgia in this post, how wonderful that your were greeted with such a positive feeling in returning to your old neighbourhood. I love that the little corner store sits as it was & the church looks beautiful Joanne.

    Looks like you & the boys have a gorgeous day to begin the journey to Montreal. Break out one of those sunscreens!

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  10. Oh, Joanne, is this it?….where you’re going to have to sleep in a tent and all that? Oh, I can’t believe you’re going to have to go without so many creature comforts! But of course,that’s you…..always up for the cause. Can’t wait to read your posts on it!

    Love this trip to all your old haunts….love seeing some of your familiar places……but most of all love how your curiosity propels you to seek things out and find the positive in it all.

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  11. NancyTex says:

    Rosedale Valley Road is one of my favourite too, Joanne.

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  12. Solveig says:

    This is wonderful. I am glad that when going back you were greeted by positive sights. I love it when old buildings are restored, just hope that this won’t make the neighbourhood too expensive.

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  13. Sue Slaght says:

    Joanne best of luck this week. I so admire your dedication and generosity of your time in volunteering for this cause.
    By the way I am very taken with the composition of the photos in this pots. Wonderful angles and perspectives!

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  14. badfish says:

    Your blog is the first I’ve seen where your about page is not your most looked at, it’s number 3. At some point when my internet connection is reliable, I will have to check those other two out. Love the foot bridge photo, great composition! Are you riding 600 KMS!!!? LOVE the photo of that store with the hi-rise behind it. Stunning. So…this is Toronto? I may be doing a yoga course in Toronto at some point. “May” and “at some point” are to be noticed.

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  15. Sammy D. says:

    Lovely little stroll through ‘Past on Present’. It’s not often that kind of walk results in such positive feelings and I’m happy for you., especially being able to visit the church. The renovated buildings are stunning; i love those everywhere. So preferable to newer pretends.

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  16. Joe says:

    Great walk down memory lane and beautiful photos Joanne 🙂

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  17. Heyjude says:

    I must admit to being one of those people who doesn’t like to go back to the past in case I don’t like what I find. As one of my sons lives in the same area that we lived in as a family for some 18 years I have been back to that neighbourhood and found it – strangely empty. Once full of young families it is now full of ’empty nesters’. And it felt a lot smaller somehow.

    But your old neighbourhood certainly looks on the up. Love the old buildings and the street art and how lovely for you to find the corner shop and your church just as they were.

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    • joannesisco says:

      I have to agree with you Jude that going back is often really disappointing. My home town is like that. I think it looks tired and in need of some inspiring influence.
      Thankfully this particular area of Toronto appears to be thriving.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heyjude says:

        Where is your home town? I don’t mean the actual place, but what do you call ‘home town’? Is it where you are born, or grow-up in? I’m not sure where I’d consider mine to be as we moved a few times when I was a child. But it must be 35 years since I went back to where I was born and where my teenage self lived.

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  18. beeblu says:

    Nice nostalgic wanderings. Wonderful to find things as they were or better. I don’t find that when I return to my hometown. Quite depressing.

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    • joannesisco says:

      When I go back to my home town – which is a small community – I too am rather depressed. I haven’t seen a meaningful improvement there in a long time. It just has a tired, rundown feel to it.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Awesome memories Joanne! There are so many neighborhoods where I used to live that I haven’t been to in so long. I admit, I think I would be a little nervous going back. I might be afraid that I’d be disappointed in the changes that were made. I think this town is adorable though.

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    • joannesisco says:

      I know what you mean …. there’s that saying that you can never go back. It was nice to see that the area is being improved. It would have been really sad otherwise.

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      • Yes, it kind of reminded me of NY, not the city, but the post, because I haven’t been there in so long and I hear that the changes that have been made are just taking the heart out of the city. I don’t know if I want to see that!

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  20. What a beautiful walk down memory lane! I’ve never been to Toronto but it looks lovely. It was interesting to see the old buildings juxtaposed against newer ones in your photos – the older ones have so much more character and grace.

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    • joannesisco says:

      It’s interesting that you should mention the old vs new buildings. I didn’t notice the mix … that quite frankly is everywhere … until I looked at these photos on the big screen. The high rises seem to always be a backdrop for the older buildings.
      I guess it’s no coincidence that as we get older, our appreciation for old things increases 🙂

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  21. Ruth says:

    Lovely post, Joanne 🙂

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  22. mihrank says:

    Beautiful – the title surfing the past is powerful – your article brings a journey to learn from..

    Like

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