Stepping out – Week 10

I have lived downtown for ten years and yet I did not know that there is a Sunday Market at the Memorial Centre (Kingston). In keeping with my goal of learning more about my community through walking every street in the Kingston core, I headed over to the Memorial Centre this morning.

I discovered a busy market with vendors from near and far selling local goods and produce.. I chatted with a baker from Kemptville and bought a bacon butter tart from them before they were all gone (by 10:15 am).

I also picked up some frozen Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls that I will have for dinner from a vendor from Lyn, Ontario. (I didn’t know where that is. It is a hamlet just west of Brockville.) There were also lots of stalls selling fresh local produce and greens, iincluding dandelion leaves in bunches that look like a head of lettuce and bunches of garlic scapes (the green tops with the little flower bud at the top).

If you are a Kingstonian and have not yet checked out this Sunday market, give it a go. I will be back for sure.

And while we were wandering the neighbourhood, Anne-Marie and Dave flagged us down to go for coffee at the nearby Coffee Way. We had lots of theatre chat and I learned about Connor’s little venture selling good condition LEGO sets. If you want some Vintage LEGO, let me know and I will put you in touch with him.

On my way along Montreal Street I encountered this delightful streetside garden, just a few steps from Blakey’s Flower Shop.

All in all it was a great Sunday morning. By noon I had walked 10 km, visited with friends, found a new market and come home with something special that I can warm up for dinner. Ahh, summer.

Stepping out – Week 9

It’s crazy, really. Why do we think we need to go farther afield to find interesting things to explore. Within a few blocks of where I live are two absolutely beautiful cathedrals. I rarely go into them. But when I travel, if I see a church I always go in, sit for a few moments to soak up the ambience and reflect.

St Mary’s Cathedral on Johnson Street in Kingston is really magnificent inside. The cornerstone for the present building was laid in 1843 and the cathedral, much as it remains today, was constructed over the next five years. Over a few years around 1990, a seven million dollar restoration of the original building was done. The limestone was carefully restored or replaced and one of the walls and buttresses was replaced.

The interior of this building is stunning and inspirational. Guided tours are available throughout the summer on Weekdays (except Wednesday) from 1-5. Check this wonderful building out.

St George’s Cathedral is more familiar to me as I have been to concerts there (the acoustics are wonderful) and even last Christmas Eve I wandered in to just sit in the back pew and absorb the peace. St George’s Cathedral was built in 1862, replacing a smaller wooden St George’s church that, from 1792, was located opposite the Market Square ( about where Morrison’s Restaurant is now) . It was enlarged between 1891 and 1894 but then much of the roof and interior was destroyed by fire in 1899. It was quickly repaired to be as it appears now, 120 years later.

St George’s also has a beautiful interior and throughout the summer the doors are open for visitors to come into the church and witness its grandeur.

I suspect that many visitors to Kingston admire these churches but how often do local residents who are not part of these congregations drop in to spend a few moments of quiet and absorb the grandeur that is part of our community? Both are worth a visit.

To show just how close to home these wonderful churches are to me, I took this photo from the rooftop of my apartment building. The spire of St Mary’s is in the left upper horizon and the dome of St George’s is in the middle right third of this photo.

Stepping out – Week 8

As summery weather finally hit us this week, I took the opportunity to get up early to watch the sun come up on my own home town. When I travel I often post video montages of the cities in different countries so I thought it appropriate to share one of my own home town, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

These scenes were shot between 5:30 am and 6, all within a few blocks of home, when the streets were quiet and serene. Enjoy this little tour of my neighbourhood.

Stepping out – Week 5

May 30-June 5

I am back home in Kingston and have picked up where I left off exploring my home town after two weeks tramping around cities in the U.K. and Europe.

If you didn’t see what my mission is in the next few months you can find more about it here. My plan is to get some exercise while the weather is good and at the same time take more notice of what is surrounding me. And share photos each week of discoveries I have made on my walks.

This old building was one of the first breweries in the core of old Kingston. It was built by James Robbins in 1793. It underwent name changes from Robbins Brewery to Kingston Brewery to Bajus Brewery and was operated by the Bajus family until the 1920s. The brewing industry was an important part of this district and what is now Rideau Street was called Brewery Street.

Across the street is s dry dock that was opened by Sir John A MacDonald and has been operational since the 1870’s. This week they are preparing it to bring in a houseboat for renovations.

This property has also been the site of boat building since 1676. Metalcraft Marine has used the property since the 1980’s to build Fire/Rescue/Patrol boats that are sent all over North America (like this one that is soon headed to Miami, Florida.)

Lots of flowering trees this week, including these two beauties in front of a house on King Street that was built in 1841. At that time the farm lot across the street (now City Park) was being considered as a site for the Canadian Parliament Buildings.

And, high water levels in Lake Ontario caused a bit of flooding, including the Parking Lot and entry to the Kingston Yacht Club. This mother duck took advantage of the puddle to teach her ducklings to swim.

My friend, Sue, gave me the guided tour around the Rideau Street neighbourhood she lived in as a child. She pointed out the church where her brother used to go to sales to buy Christmas gifts more than 50 years ago and as we approached the church…they had a rummage sale on. Some things just don’t change.

Stepping out – Week 2

May 7-15

I have walked along in front of Grant Hall with its signature clock tower (completed in 1905) and Theological College (built in 1879-80) many times but didn’t realize that it has been designated as “Professor’s Walk” according to a plaque posted where it starts on University Avenue.

I took this quick little stroll along Professor’s walk this week. Past the towers of Grant Hall and Theological College.

I found this gaggle of friends on the street at a garage sale on Saturday. Hot dogs, drink and chips for $4. Proceeds to the Special Olympics.

We miss a lot by not looking up. I was astounded how many buildings in the Kingston core have some sort of turret or tower. It must have been a stylish addition 150 years ago. Some of these I have walked past many times but not noticed. Do you recognize any of them?

McIntosh Castle, below is not really a castle but a big house at the corner of West Street and Sydenham Streets. The curious little glass “widows walk” with windows all around it was added shortly after the house was constructed in the early 1880’s. Local legend has it that it was build so the lady of the house could take her tea up there and have a private box seat for the public hangings that took place in front of the Frontenac County Courthouse across the street.

It was Mother’s Day this week and I spent some time watching this mother tending to her young. She was a bit cautious at first but eventually returned a few times with worms for the baby birds that were under the eve of this house on Earl Street. It took me a while to get these shots. I think the neighbors were likely wondering what the heck I was doing.

This is a row of houses on Sydenham Street that I had never really “noticed” before. Lots of character.

And, of course, I stopped often to soak up the colour of the spring flowers.

Next week will be a change of venue as I tramp around some Northern European cities.

If you missed Week 1 you can find it here.

Celebrating diversity in K-town

As I was heading over to Food Basics to buy some Harvest Crunch (on sale at 2 boxes for $5 this week) I was halted for a few minutes by the Pride parade heading up Brock Street past the market.

The kiss

This photo of a same-sex kiss on the front page of the Kingston Whig Standard in August 1969 provoked outrage. Times have changed for the better in K-town.

 

I had a flashback to 1985, the first year I moved to Kingston, and the uproar that happened when two young men staged a “kiss-in” on the steps of City Hall on August 8.

 
I understand that the LGBT community had been appealing to the Kingston City Council to be able to hold pride celebrations of some sort for a couple of years and were being rebuked.  In order to draw some attention, this kiss-in,  in a kind of make-love-not-war theme,  was organized on the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima in a kind of combination effort to promote some tolerance of sexual diversity and remind people that love is better than war.

 

 

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Enlarge this photo to see some of the letters to the Whig decrying the obscenity of “the kiss”.

The “ceremony” drew about 400 onlookers and the next day there was a photo on the front page of the Whig Standard.  What followed was outrage.  People threatened to cancel their paper for showing this “excessive and offensive” behaviour.   “ It just made me feel like throwing up.” said one.  “We were disgusted to see those two homosexuals in a loving embrace.” wrote another.

It took several years of requesting but finally in 1992, Mayor Helen Cooper proclaimed a Pride Day in Kingston.   

This year, the walkway in front of City Hall has been painted in rainbow colours and the parade had hundreds of folks who believe that there is strength in diversity walking together through the streets – Businesses, Church groups, Military, police, friends and even our  federal Member of Parliament (who happens to be the son of the mayor of the city in 1985).

diversityWatching the cheerful and colourful parade pass by, it made me happy to know that our society has grown much more tolerant and accepting of diversity.  I was also delighted last week to see this sign on a few lawns in Kingston and around the university.  I am glad that my grandchildren will grow up in a society that acknowledges diversity as a strength, not a threat.

One would hope that we can continue to celebrate our differences – religious, sexual orientation, political, cultural, – rather than see them as divisive.  Who knows, eventually, I may even become accepting of Toronto Maple Leafs fans.

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Just part of the Kingston Pride parade celebration in 2018.

KCFF18 – three more movies – two comedies and one that was unsettling.

Let’s get the unsettling movie out of the way first.

Black Cop has certainly been the talk of this Kingston Canadian Film Festival in 2018.  It played to two sold out screenings to audiences that found it somewhat unnerving.  We were warned when the creator/director, Cory Bowles (Trailer Park Boys) introduced the film, ending with  “Enjoy the film” then corrected it to “Enjoy the experience”.

Black-Cop-movie--623x350The movie, all shot in Halifax, is about a black policeman who is finding his work as a policeman to be challenging when people of color are in trouble with the law, or accused unfairly of being lawbreakers.  At one point when he is off duty, he is “carded” by another cop and treated badly, simply because he is a person of color.  He snaps and starts to turn the tables, stopping white people and being abusive and hostile in his interactions with them. This gave our predominantly white audience a feeling for what it would be like to have the shoe on the other foot, to be suspected and abused simply because of your skin color.  It was startling to experience and a provocative but very effective way of creating understanding of movements like Black Lives Matter.

Both Bowles and the film’s star, Ronnie Rowe, were at a Q&A after the screening.  It was clear that the audience was a bit stunned and needing some time to take it all in and the frank discussion about racial profiling and being a person of color in Canada was both welcome and complimented the film.   Everyone should see this film. Don’t watch it alone. You will need a chance to debrief afterward as there is a lot of overwhelming content to process.

MV5BZTNmOTliNjItMmE2MC00NjFiLTlhODgtZTQ4MTIyZjA5ODA0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU1MDYyMDE@._V1_UY1200_CR85,0,630,1200_AL_The two comedies were both fun but paled in comparison to Black Cop.

Room for Rent, shot in Winnipeg,  is about a young man, Mitch Baldwin (played by Mark Little), who won a lottery, blew all the money (and in the process a lot of relationships) and who is now living at home with his parents.   When his father (Mark McKinney) loses his job and they think they will have to sell the house the family decides to rent a room to make some money. Enter Carl Lemay (Brett Gellman), an assertive loose canon of a guy who complicates Iife for everyone, particularly Mitch.

 

Unknown-5Another Kind of Wedding was filmed in Montreal.  I loved the familiar locations including the bagel shop where Tara Foods gets their bagels.  Kingston was also mentioned by none other than Kathleen Turner.   Even though the line was a bit negative “Who would want to spend a week in Kingston?”, the audience loved to be acknowledged on film by this superstar.

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William Hurt and Kathleen Turner in Body Heat (1981) one of my favourite films.

 

Body Heat (1981) is one of my all-time favourite movies and I have always found Kathleen Turner to be “hot”.  She is now in her mid-sixties and has put on 50 pounds but she still exudes a sultry, classy, confidence that is oh so sexy.    And she is great in this movie as one of the mothers of the groom.

I think the title of this film is unfortunate and not appealing but it has already been changed from Someone Else’s Wedding so I guess the producers are struggling to find a wedding title that has not been taken.

I realized that it takes more to make me like a comedy than a drama.  They tend to be shallow and often work too hard to make us laugh. Wedding movie comedies usually follow a pattern – introduction, complications, affairs, family feuds, disruption, and then a sudden turn around where everyone comes out OK in the end.  This movie also follows that formula but the characters were all interesting and varied and I think that saved the film for me. I liked it better than Room for Rent and it was a light and pleasant way to spend my Sunday morning.

For each of the films that I mentioned today, I have naturally started with where they were filmed.  This is part of the fun of seeing Canadian movies where Canadian cities are presented as themselves, not as a substitute for some American town or New York.   It adds a sort of familiarity to the film that increases the appeal for a Canadian audience.  Canadian locations do look like home to Canadians.  Like our accent or “eh” or “sorry”, we do have a look to our cities and towns that a Canadian can indentify.  What fun to spend the weekend watching films that embrace that.  Thanks to the KCFF18 for providing this treat.

Lively weekend in downtown Kingston Ontario

Have I said how much I love living in Downtown Kingston?  All these photos were taken within a 5 minute walk of where I live!

This weekend had perfect end-of-summer weather and  the downtown was full of activity ranging from Bollywood to jets to skydivers to a wonderful multicultural arts festival.

Here’s a five minute taste of how the weekend unfolded.   Never a dull moment…or a quiet one.

I have always enjoyed a good party.

Last fall, my friend Margi McKay interviewed me as part of a Kingston Public Library project to have people select an old photo from their past and talk about it.  You might enjoy listening to the 22 minute interview.  I am happy to have it preserved.  Some day my grandchildren or great grandchildren will be able to hear me talk about my childhood.

And how things have changed in my lifetime.  I feel like a bit of a pioneer.  The TV set in the photo was the latest technology.  Now everyone has this in their pocket.

There is a link below to an edited version of the interview but if you have the 20 minutes, the longer interview is better as it is more thoughtful and complete.  You can access it by clicking on the photo below or here.

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For the shorter edited version you can click here.  It is a bit more rushed and the editing sounds like I have had about 4 cups of coffee prior to the interview.  But in these days of shorter attention span, this works well.  Click here for the abbreviated version.

I talk about 448 Mornington Ave, London in the interview.  It is where the party took place. Here is my brother Bob and I on the front porch of that house about the same time.

2016-09-14-1315_John-and-Bob-Geddes-circa-1953

Surprise. I do have a spiritual side.

I have spent the past few days on what has turned out to be a Reminiscence Tour of Huron and Bruce counties, visiting longstanding friends and familiar locations from my past.
I have camped out for a couple of nights at my brother’s cottage just south of Kincardine and on the wall in the living room is a painting that was done by my late mother sometime in the 1960s. This morning when I looked at the painting, I decided to go there, to sit on that beach and see if that rock was still in the water.
For years, our family had a cottage at the top of the hill in the community known as Bluewater Beach. I spent many summers there from about age 5 on. My kids also remember Grandma and Grampa’s cottage well.   
I picked up a coffee in Goderich and a Danish at Culbert’s bakery. I parked at the top of he hill across the street from where Vasiloff’s had their cottage and walked along the road past Hartman’s and Haskett’s and Footwinkler’s and Halpin’s. None of those people are there – most of them are dead. The buildings, most of them drastically changed are there but with different owners they feel empty and foreign.

No one was home at the cottage that used to belong to my family – we had called it Tip Toe Inn –so I went out onto the front yard, sat down and had my coffee there looking out over Lake Huron. The cottage was built by my Dad starting in 1952. The structure remains the same although it is now brown, not white with red trim.

I then took the well-worn path and steps down to the beach.

At the bottom of the hill I could see the rocks in my mom’s painting. It’s true, she did take some artistic license with the size and perspective but the rocks are still there with waves crashing over them just as in the painting.


While I was on the beach, I met a fellow who was wandering along with his dog. He had a beard and long hair pulled back with an elastic. I know he would not call it a man-bun.  He said he had a place at the top of the hill that sounded like it was where Art Johnson, the local woodsman, used to live fifty years ago. He said he spent a lot of his time wandering the beach and kayaking, – a bit like a Robinson Crusoe.  He has built a little hideaway up against the cliff under some trees. His kayak was there, some places to sit and a painting of a whales tail in the water. We talked at some length about the beach, the way the lake changes from year to year but also the way that certain things stay the same. I told him about Benny Daer, the local bootlegger, and Miss Salkeld’s blue cottage tea room. I may have bored him but he listened politely. For me it was a flood of memories. 

This year the water level in Lake Huron is high. Everyone thinks this is an anomaly. But I remember this beach in many years past exactly as it is today. We would have to clear rocks away to make a sandy spot to put our beach towels. Some years there was sand in the water and some years there was not. Some years the shore was polluted with seaweed, other years it was clean.  Some years we would have to walk a couple of kilometers along the beach to Black’s Point to have a good swimming. Along the way we would stop at “the big rock”, another large flat table-like rock 100 m from shore. My new-found friend assured me he knows that rock well. And yet another  “big” rock –in the picture below– at the base of the stairway to the beach was sometimes almost out of the water. But I also remember it exactly as it is now. When I was 10 we would go out to that rock and jump off of it into the water. All the rocks seemed bigger then.
As I stood there, I  reflected how the rocks in my Mom’s painting will be there 100 years or 200 years from now as well. But I won’t. There is something both comforting and disturbing about that thought. How small and temporary we are in the grand scheme of things.
I’m not religious but sometimes I do have a spiritual side. These rocks are as close to God that I can get. They are steadfast, immovable, reliable and enduring. And there is something reassuring about knowing that, although we are only on this planet for a very short time, there is something greater that lasts… and lasts…and lasts.
Addendum: As I stood taking the photo above, looking toward Goderich, beyond the point in the distance,  it reminded me of the time when my “cousins”, my 7 year old brother and I decided on the spur of the moment to walk along the beach to Goderich, maybe 5 km away.  We neglected to tell our parents and, needless to say it took us longer than we anticipated. It was before the days of mobile phones or even a phone at the cottage.  Our parents were frantic and at 4 pm found us walking along the highway in an attempt to head home.  Brother Bob was exhausted. Parents were relieved to find us safely but were pretty angry with us.  As a kid, this just seemed like a reasonable adventure.  As a parent and grandparent I can understand our parents’ panic.