With the impending closure of the Zellers in the Bedford Place Mall, I find myself indulgently strolling down Memory Lane. It's been just over 10 years since we became Come From Aways, making the move East from Toronto. In that time we have seen many changes in our adoptive community and I have to admit that not all of them have been received with open arms.
When we first moved to the area the Bedford Place Mall had two music stores and Sunnyside Mall had one. Now, with the rise of downloading music, these malls have none. Fortunately, there is still Select Sounds located in the Canada Trust Court a few doors down from Cora's Restaurant. Here I can still find old and new CDs, DVDs, and even some vinyl. My hope is that this store will never become a victim of technology. Searching online for a title holds none of the appeal of looking through stacks in person. To me it's like a treasure hunt. You never know what you'll uncover. I've found many previously unknown albums and movies which have since become favourites in this way.
On the plus side, the Sackville River Trail went from being just a great idea to becoming a popular place to walk, ride bicycles, or just enjoy watching the water ripple past.
Looking closer to home, other significant changes have taken place. Before Staples and Dollarama took up residence, the Downsview Mall was a conglomeration of indoor shops. There was something funky about the place even though it was already in the process of becoming extinct. On Sundays the Flea Market was held within and there were always cool things to find. Of course it would have been something to see when Downsview was a home for harness racing and there was a Drive-In theatre nearby! Thankfully, for people like me who weren't fortunate enough to see these first-hand, retired councilor Bob Harvey's excellent book, ‘Historic Sackville' contains images and stories of a past that was both fascinating and quirky.
Speaking of racing, behind Harry R. Hamilton Elementary School was Drag City or the Sackville International Speedway. I suggest checking Youtube for videos of past races. Traces of the drag strip and oval raceway remained when we moved in, much of it nearly reclaimed by nature. At the time, I was informed it had become a dumping site for stolen cars. Vehicle theft aside it gave the place a lot of character. Now, it's just another road bordered by newly built homes.
In fact much of the area that was once forest is now developed. A golf course has given way to a subdivision, yet another recreational loss. Other developments continue to reach out, eating up the wilderness, with a resulting increase in traffic. So much so that there's now a new Tim Horton's close to the Margeson Drive roundabout! Which, being a coffee addict, is a guilty bonus. Admittedly, one benefit of this expansion is the addition of Berry Hill Park and Laurie Lively Park which is a great place to bike, shoot hoops, and play soccer. So, I guess some good does come from change. Proving, as Billy Bragg once sang, "You have to take the crunchy with the smooth."
Kevin Toal is a freelance writer who thanks those who preserve records of the community's past.