The period of “ Urban Renewal”

  • Urban Renewal - a subject and period in time that completely intrigues me. I mean, really , I experienced it firsthand . But I’d still like to know how the decisions were made and the actual condition of everything that was torn down . 

In 1973, I was 8 years old and had lived at 195 paradise row since I was born .
I always heard it referred to as “ The Valley”. I attended Winter street school which still stands as an apartment complex and our family walked across the gas station parking lot to St Paul’s church each Sunday . White lace gloves and patten leather shoes. The boys with waves in the front of their hair and bow ties! Mom had 3 boys & 3 girls and managed to do it all.

Sadly,The church tragically burned .
A hotel occupies the corner now.

We lived on the corner , so paradise Row, Wall Street , Rockland rd , spring , summer and winter streets were my stomping grounds.
They were the days of rummage sales , outdoor skating rinks and lots of clotheslines!

I remember the concrete yards, alleys and fallen down wooden garages. I learned to ride a bike there in the neighbouring gas station. We would walk up to lord beaver brook rink to skate too and also skated along the train tracks over the hill! We slid down Rockland road in the winter and went into Emma’s store for a paper bag of icy squares! There were at least 4 small grocery stores on our block .

Mom would walk us uptown over the green wall street bridges and up over garden street .

When I ask Mom about it she says it was a community. Many people were very sad to leave it. I remember vividly standing in my bathroom window watching all the homes around me coming down .
And then it was ours .
Dad packed us all into his 3/4 ton truck . We sat on our suitcases in the open back! !hahaha 🤣
And headed out Rothesay and towards our new dwelling in forest hills . I marvelled at the restaurants along that strip! We had never gone to a fast food restaurant. ( a bucket of colonel sanders on birthdays)
We drove in like the Beverley hillbillies!! 😂

It was eye opening and life felt different in forest hills. The kids were in the fields flying kites. The backyards were covered in grass and fenced. Everyone had an individual home as opposed to a tenement building. Within one day I met lifelong friends. Forest hills was good for us .

I plan to read a lot more on the urban renewal in which I was directly involved … without ever realizing it. And I’m feeling like my heart is taking me there to capture that time permanently with my paintings .
When a thought like this makes me feel excited and anxious to begin ,, then I know that’s what my next subjects ought to be .

I can already see it. The new year will find me sifting through books of our city . Sipping coffee. And watching the snow fall . Then putting brush to canvas ☕️❄️📚👩🏼‍🎨🖌🖼


1 comment

  • Mary

    Love your art work and so enjoyed reading your story of change. It was like I was there watching. Love it.

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