Grace Lake: The Return

After 12-15 years, I returned to what used to be my home – the shores of Grace Lake in the northern reaches of Central Ontario.

The view from the beach was the same as ever with the eye’s attention drawn to the ‘large’ island in the center (which is actually not that big when you look at it from the side or at it’s rear flank).

However, from the shoreline to the main highway a kilometer away, it’s very hard to pick out the features that are so ingrained into my memories.

Gone are the open spaces where you could roam around at will – replaced with trees and bushes so thick that they’re all but impenetrable.

All of the landmarks that I saw every waking day for the first 12 years of my life (okay – more like 10 years since I was two years old when my mother shacked up with my stepfather) were nowhere to be seen, and let me tell you, that is an incredibly disorienting feeling.

You folks out there who have been born and raised in urban centers can’t possibly understand what that feeling is like since it can’t really occur to you because no matter how much the city changes around you, there will always be something to help you find your way: a bridge, a street, a statue, a park, a landmark municipal building… none of these thing ever go away.

Sure, your favorite stadium might be torn down… or that crappy shopping plaza down the street from your parents house might have been razed so that a new movie theater and restaurant can be put in it’s stead, but the fact is that the road it fronts on to will still be there and you’re not going to get lost because you can’t see the busted sign for the dilapidated bowling alley.

However, imagine going away to college, then university, and then getting employed overseas – a journey through life that takes you 15 – 20 years before you make that trek back to where you started from.

Now imagine the entire city simply having vanished with nothing but a few broken bricks strewn about to even say there had been anything there.

How lost would you feel? How stupid would you feel for not knowing which way was what?

That’s how I felt upon returning to Grace Lake after my family’s property had been sold, divided up, and remade to the new owner’s visions – and make no mistake: the property that my grandparents sold to former MPP Chris Hodgson measured in multiple hectares.

Hell, I had to walk a kilometer just to catch the school bus every morning (and yes, I’m aware of sounding like an old timer when I tell you that).

That very road that I walked along through sun, rain, sleet, or waist deep snow now has homes built along it – each with sizable lots.

The cottage resort with 30 slots for recreational travel trailers was completely gone… not that I expected it to be there.

I knew that the wealthy had come and built a series of million dollar cottages on the shores of Grace Lake, but I had no idea that those buyers would let the land go to seed – that they would plant so¬† many trees that you wouldn’t even know that there was a lake to be seen if you didn’t already know it was present.

I had to access the shoreline via a family friend’s property, and even then, it was only about 15 – 18 feet of undeveloped trees and sand… looking out onto a breath-taking body of water that drew me into it’s grasp: I couldn’t control myself and waded out knee-deep into the crystal clear water that seemed to welcome me like a long lost relative.

But all I had to do was look to my left and see the perversion of what had been all mine: docks and floating piers supporting pleasure craft and luxury speed boats – instead of a pristine sand beach longer than the length of a football field or soccer pitch.

Grace Lake 2010

However, we all know that time stops for no one – no matter how we wish for it sometimes.

Every step we make, every breath we take, and every time we blink our eyes only moves us further and further along time’s highway… and it’s a highway filled with speeding cars and trucks that only go one way – so there’s no point in trying to thumb a ride back towards the beginning (at least not yet).

To borrow a lyric from Gordon Lightfoot – and one that seems to apply here: Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours?

As you’ll see in the attached video, Grace Lake has no shortage of waves, and they just keep rolling in without stop… furthering the days and years until there will be nobody left that remembers a cottage resort named Birch Villa – which is a certainty.

All that remains is the faces and the names… of the residents… of the customers… of 30 years or so of seasonal visitors.

Sure – there are photographs tucked away in dusty attics all over this continent that show what the lakefront used to look like.

But how long are those going to last? A generation past those who actually camped at the lake?

How long before those pics get shoved in a trash can by some kid in the future who thinks they’re lame – and kids already think the outdoors is a waste of time as it is.

It’s not like they can hop in a car and visit what’s in the photos in the grand tradition of road trips of self-discovery.

If it’s not going to be there for me – who lived there 24/7/365 – then it’s not going to be there for them.

All that’s left for me is a fading road sign that bares my surname…

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…pointing towards a lake that you can’t see.

Thoughts On The 2010 Golden Globes

First thing off the bat that I noticed was the directing SUCKED.

Camera people were consistently out of place, and the coordinators had almost no idea of where anyone was seated.

WTF? How do you screw that shit up?

But I digress…

Big winner of the night were the Na’vi – who walked away with Best Motion Picture and Best Director – which A) really primes the movie for Oscar glory, and B) was inevitable.

Robert Downey, Jr. got some love for SHERLOCK HOLMES – but I was really puzzled about the category: Comedy/Musical.

Me thinks I’ll have to check that flick out to properly gauge the jokes and musical numbers.

Hollywood’s most overlooked workhorse, Jeff Bridges, finally got an award for his country music flick CRAZY HEART – which I have yet to see (anyone want to send me a screener copy?).

One of the most dumbfounding moments of the night was Drew Barrymore getting some hardware for GRAY GARDENS – not because she won (she’s always charming) but the fact that she’s never won a Golden Globe before, especially since she’s been coming to the awards since she was 7 or 8 years old.

It was cool to see what Michael Giacchino actually looked like (musical score for UP) as I’d never laid eyes on him before – so now he goes into the mental gallery with Danny Elfman and John Williams.

It was fitting that the scene-chewing Jew Hunter from INGLORIOUS BASTERDS won a trophy as Cristoph Waltz is actually a pretty decent dude.

The TV awards were pretty lame as nobody from any worthwhile shows won awards – though MAD MEN picked up Best Show (obvious, no?).

…Which brings me to the show’s actual Golden Globes:

Mmmm... global

Oh… and Ricky Gervais’ shot at Mel Gibson? Priceless!

A Not-So Grand Opening

Now, before you give me a dirty look, this article is NOT spawned by the manager of Lansdowne Place’s failure to allow me to photograph inside the mall’s new expansion on it’s opening day – or even returning my call and email for that matter (and I’ve been waiting for over a week now).

Okay, okay… it might be based on the above just a wee bit

This is mostly based on good optics.

Lansdowne Place is THE mall destination for Peterborough citizens (and also for people who live in the surrounding villages), and thusly should take every step to make sure it’s image in 100% when attracting attention to itself – lest some shoppers get the notion that their hard-earned dollars be spent someplace else.

In an effort to assure more dollars rolling in, the mall has been undertaking large-scale renovation over the past few years to update it’s profile – which is essential to maintain shopper growth in the area’s burgeoning urban and youth segment.

October 15th was the grand unveiling of the new expansion wing that reaches out to the Loblaw’s Supercenter (which opened mid-winter 2009).

So eager was the management, that the enticed early morning shoppers with a promise of 500 ‘swag bags’ filled with freebies from mall tenants.

All signs of “Hey! Look at how awesome we are now!”

However, when people arrived, what exactly did they see first?

LanPlacEx2

And this…

LanPlacEx1

Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

“Everybody come on down and see how greedy we are for your shopping dollars! We’re so desperate, we can’t even wait for the exterior work to be done! Come now and bring your cash with you, and we’ll give 500 of you a bag of free samples from some of our retailers to make you forget about the sloppiness outside!”

At least… that’s what it says to me.

What do you think, oh loyal readers?

Photography Tip: If you’re going to take a photo of something like a commercial building without express permission from the facility’s owners, be sure to take the photographs from a public space such as a sidewalk or street – which covers you by bringing into effect the ‘reasonable expectation of privacy‘ caveat if the owners wanted to get snarky with you.