Monday, October 15, 2012

Connect with Your City

This morning I saw this photo posted on Facebook.

A little backstory, a local business person started a scavenger hunt in town a few weeks ago, the Royal City Coffee Hunt. Find the photo, take it to The Joint Cafe and redeem for a free coffee.

This morning's location was one I know quite well, even though I haven't spent time there since I was in secondary school. In fact, as I drove over there I was surprised to find the street I thought lead right to the spot actually stopped before it.

From the ages of 8 until 11 I lived on Peter Ave, and attended Waverley Drive School. Even after moving away from the area in grade five I continued at the same school for 3 more years.

This was my neighbourhood, I knew it well. Especially since I walked to school everyday, sometimes with different friends so we changed routes regularly.

So, I bundled up and headed out to get the photo since I wanted a coffee, and a treat. As I drove over the memories started, as they often do any time I drive through that neighbourhood. I always look down Peter Ave, to spy my old house. As I drove further down Delhi I thought about how far of a walk it must have seemed to me at 9 years old every day. I feel like kids don't walk so far on their own any more.  My parents stopped walking me to school sometime about grade one, or 6 years old. From then on I was on my own.

I recognized that spot in the photo, so completely because it is directly across from the intersection where I used to be a safety patrol, Waverley and Clive.

As I looked up and down the street I was overcome with a memory of walking down to Riverside Drive to watch the Olympic Torch go by in 1988. My and my friends walked the entire way from the school to the end of the street singing "Stand By Me" over and over again. Because of my enormous crushes on River Phoenix and Wil Wheaton that movie was on constantly.

I have lived in Guelph since I was 3 years old. And I mean lived! Not only did we move at least 7 or 8 times before I was 13 years old (thanks to my nomadic father), I went to at least 4 different schools and made new and different friends each time. My brother and I were active kids, always exploring neighbourhoods, some quite far from our home. As long as we could hear my mom's whistle we knew we were within range of home, and she has a loud whistle!

There are very few parts of this city that don't have memories attached for me, and there are very few "Guelph" experiences I haven't had. Guelph is very much more than the city I live in. It has shaped me and made me the person I am. To get really philosophical, Guelph is me and I am Guelph :-)

I've been lucky to live in the same city for so long, but anybody can start making memories and experiencing our city. Go out for walks. Today walk left out your door instead of right. Drive to the library branch at the opposite end of the city from your home, join a book club there. Shop in a different grocery store, or visit some schools public events, like fairs and performances.

Go to local events like Festival Italiano, the Multicultural Festival and Hillside Festival. Ask long time Guelphites to share stories of what the city was like before you arrived. I can tell you where streets stopped 15 or 20 years ago, and what it was like lining up for movies at the Odeon on Wyndham St.

Thanks to Rob Campbell for adding a quick and easy way to get to know Guelph every Monday. Take part. Watch for next week's photo and go looking for it.

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