Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Farewell North Toronto C.I

So it's been a wonderful trip home to Canada for the holidays. Thanks to the generous hospitality of my parents I've been able to make the most of my time at home, enjoying both some much needed rest and relaxation as well as the chance to catch up with all the friends I've missed while I've been away at law school this past year.

One of my first excursions was taking my dog Bailey on a trip to my old high school, North Toronto C.I. When I started high school in 1997 the building was decrepit and falling apart; the clanging, banging noises emanating from the radiators would (sometimes mercifully) drown out the teacher's voice and most of the windows wouldn't open: not ideal for writing June final exams on the third floor of an un-air-conditioned building.
Despite the peeling paint and the crumbling plaster, I loved the history and character of the school's architecture. The location was great too- how many people can say they went to school within walking distance of some of the best restaurants and shopping in the city!

Since the building, located at Yonge and Eglinton, happens to be on the Toronto District School Board's most valuable piece of property, the solution to the building's condemnation was the Board's striking a partnership deal with condo developers. In exchange for building two huge condos in what was the school's baseball field, the developers are footing the bill for a new school building. While I know the students need and deserve a better learning environment, it is still sad to say goodbye: the original building is slated for demolition once the new school opens this summer.
The original North Toronto C.I. was completed in 1912, and the new building is going to incorporate some of the "heritage components" of the original building. Still, I'm sad that I will never again be able to visit my high school and walk down the halls recalling memory after memory of five years spent growing from an awkward, shy teenager to young adult. As tumultuous and full of angst as those years were, I do enjoy being able to go back and think about how far I've come.

So farewell original building, North Toronto C.I. I'll miss getting to include you in my "blast from the past" tours of Toronto.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy 100th Birthday Grandad!

[A Beatles cover band busking at dusk; Cambridge, England 2009.]

Phew! We'll it's been a whirlwind trip home so far and I'm so excited to blog about it. I've been saving up all my little adventures to share with my devoted readers (yes all 5 of you.)

First stop after I landed at home in Canada was back to the airport for a family trip to England!

This is my Aunt and Uncle's farmhouse where we stayed for the week. I have so many fond childhood memories of staying here and playing in the haystacks in the barn. It was great to be back!
I finally got to see all of my siblings (first time we've all been in the same room since 2007) and all of my cousins!!! We're missing a few cousins in this picture (6 to be exact) but we were all together the next day for my Grandfather's 100th Birthday Party!

It was so lovely to be able to come together as a whole family to celebrate my Grandfather turning 1 Century old. Don't you think he looks great? I hope his longevity genes run in the family!
My Aunt organized a wonderful birthday party. The location was a gorgeous canal-side restaurant. The view reminded me of our family trip to England when I was 15, where we spent two weeks traveling around on the canals in a narrow boat.

One of the most exciting things about the trip was when the Royal Mail arrived with my Grandfather's birthday card from the Queen. The Queen of England sent her own postie to deliver the card right to the front door! There was a slightly humorous mix-up because, so on the edge of our seats were we waiting for the mail to be delivered, that when we finally saw a man delivering mail we all crowded into the doorway and threw open the door with huge smiles on our faces. The man looked quite shocked and furtively handed us his windows and doors sales pamphlet. Upon realizing that he wasn't the Royal Mailman our joyful expressions deflated an we let out a collective groan of disappointment. Mr. Windows and Doors looked very confused and a bit apologetic until we explained that we were anticipating mail from Her Majesty. Luckily we had no more false alarms and the next guy was it!
No one was more excited to have a card that Her Majesty had physically touched and signed than the Birthday Man himself. When asked if he knew why he got a card from the Queen, my grandfather poignantly replied, "it's because I've been a very good citizen all my life."
I had terrible jet lag due to England being my fourth timezone in eight days (Sydney, San Francisco, Toronto, London) so I kept falling asleep every time I sat down on a lounge or went somewhere in a car. How embarrassing! Finally towards the end of the trip I became acclimatized to the new time. Just in time to go home again.
One of the nice things about visiting my rellies in England is shopping in the quaint nearby town of Cambridge (yes, that Cambridge, with the famous university.) Well-known for the plethora of cyclists, bicycles are so common place that hardly anyone bothers to lock theirs up!

There was also a gay little market. Stalls of gorgeous pottery and artwork and lots of delicious looking British sweets like lemon drops, fresh fudge and strawberry sherbert. Drool.
I'm standing next to the market with my younger cousin. This is right before we tried to meet up with the rest of our group at the end of our shopping trip. We'd arranged to meet at the 'Mac' store. To us that meant the Computer 'Mac' store; to my sisters it meant the Make-up 'Mac' store. What a fiasco! Thank goodness there was a (and by "a" I mean exactly one) cell phone amongst the group of seven of us so finally we were able to rendez-vous but not before there was some serious teeth gnashing!

All too soon it was time to say goodbye... three of my siblings flew back to their respective corners of the earth (China, Manitoba, New Brunswick) and the rest of us departed back to Ontario, taking with us only our pictures and memories of a wonderful trip!