Today is Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Fred's Views

My Back Yard

No, it's not about my actual back yard, it's about my home town, sort of. As I sit here, I can look out and barely see the last remnants of our second "spring run-off" for this year. When the last run-off occurred, I got the brilliant idea to make up four "messages" which I stuck in plastic bottles and, which eventually found their way into the creek that runs behind our place (about ½ mile). You can read all the details at Elmlane's Miscellaneous section.

I have always referred to that creek as the "Forty Mile Creek" and I have always believed that it flowed eastward and then north crashing over the escarpment at "Beamer's Falls" and then meandering through the heart of Grimsby and depositing itself (and my bottles) into Lake Ontario. I have no reason to disbelieve what I have always believed, I just don't know it to be true. Some day, I'd like to follow it and make sure. Unfortunately, it passes through lots of private land so I don't know if that would be feasible. But the point, of course, is that I'm not all that knowledgable about my home town. (Which reminds me, about the only Bruce Springsteen song I could name, sort of, is the one about his home town.)

For years, Grimsby has had an historical society that has a publication entitled "Annals of the Forty". It's the Forty Mile Creek referred to in the title (I believe) and the creek was so named because its mouth is forty miles (give or take) from Niagara Falls (or possibly Niagara-On-The-Lake) (I believe). There used to be a "festival" named for the "Forty" but the name's been changed to confuse everyone.

There are a lot of historical homes in Grimsby, and, ever since I got my digital camera four years ago, I've been meaning to take a walk through Grimsby capturing on digital media forever - or at least until the next new technology comes along - the historic and other interesting buildings of our town. Haven't done it yet - but you guessed that. I know of a few. But there are many, I'm sure, I'm not aware of. One interesting building is St. Andrew's Anglican Church on old highway 8. (I've just realized I'm not exactly sure what the street is actually called, although I assume it's Main Street. I've only been on it once or twice a week for fifty years.) That isn't as strange as it might seem. Governments in Ontario have a nasty habit of changing the names of streets. roads and highways at will. It used to be Highway 8 and it ran all the way from Niagara to Kitchener and beyond. Now, parts of it have been turned over to the "regional governments" and our part is, I believe, now known as Regional Road 81. But I stray.

Oh Yes, St. Andrews. As you probably know, I usually do virtually no research for this column so why should today be any different. I believe St. Andrews is the oldest parish in the Niagara Diocese, which I believe takes in all the area from Niagara to Hamilton. Grimsby, itself, is one of the earliest settlements in the area, and, for years, the "town fathers" have tried to keep it small and charming. They at least succeeded with the "small" part until recently. Today, there are new houses springing up all over. However, Grimsby still lacks any major commercial development. Could be a good thing, but it means I usually do my shopping in Hamilton or even far-off Ancaster. (If these place names mean nothing to you, that's okay. It used to take an hour to get to Ancaster. Now, thanks to "The Linc" it only takes 45 minutes (sometimes only slightly over 30 minutes). But they have a Costco. And a Future Shop (like Best Buy), and a Staples. And a Zellers (used to be K-Mart). And more.

Grimsby has remained fairly small, but situated as it is between a rock and a hard place, (the escarpment is the rock and Lake Ontario is, for some reason, the hard place), Grimsby's traffic is really quite congested. Much more than you'd expect for a town its size. Sort of reminds me of Gatlinburg in the southern U.S. although the traffic is not quite that bad. There are lots of trees, a few parks, and lots of places for a stroll.

It has two arenas, one out-door swimming pool, a relatively new city hall that's still about a mile out of town, a water treatment plant, a marina, and - oh yes, at least four Tim Horton's (although only two qualify as being "downtown"). There may be more. There may be one on the other side of the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Highway which joins Fort Erie, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Hamilton and Toronto - and points in between). For some reason, and it may be only my personal bias, I've always thought of the other side of the QEW as "the other side of the tracks". Come to think of it, the CN railway runs through the same area as the highway. The commercial section over there always seemed more run-down than the main drag, but, there are many nice residential areas there as well as some stinking rich ones overlooking the Lake.

Okay. You've probably deduced that I know a little about my home town, but not really all that much. And what I do "know", I don't know for certain. Like just about everyone else, I ignore the bounty at my doorstep for "greener pastures" far, far away. I hope I will have the opportunity to discover more about my home town (and about the neighboring town (now a "city") to the west, Stoney Creek, which is my wife's home town.) And in between, on the road that runs virtually past my door is the Ethan Allan home, the birth place of the Women's Institute. I've never visited it. I should. I must. The Women's Institute may not be well-known now, but for the better part of the twentieth century it was an essential part of the lives of all rural women in Canada, the U.S. and the world.

How about your home town? What do you know about it? How many of its treasures have you explored? Don't wait too long to begin the treasure hunt.

Copyright © 2003 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.

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