First a farm and then … a refuge

The photographs, though blurry and colourless, draw me in. As do the words on the page. My house is nearing its hundredth birthday, I learn. First there was a farm, then some shacks joined by wooden sidewalks that washed away each time the rain fell, and then “enviable prosperity” (The Hamilton Herald, Oct. 8, 1925).

Looking at the neighbourhood today, this last statement surprises me a little. The area is nice, but not “upscale”. History is fascinating.

I turn the page and read a little further. The nearby park – an oasis in the City’s industrial heart – was sold to the City by a farmer who felt choked by urban congestion.

In 1917, the newspaper said, “The park will … be a pleasant retreat for the tired mothers and the little ones.”

Yes, this I can see. Almost a century later, there are days when the park is this tired mother’s lifeline. I take the girls on picnics or to collect pine cones or to see the turtles in the indoor pond.

In springtime, the trees are a profusion of brightly coloured blooms. In summer, there is always a cool breeze. And sometimes in November, we find roses still nestled among the thorny bushes in the garden.

Last week, my husband and daughter spotted an owl blinking down at them from an evergreen tree.

The book that I’m reading, Hamilton Back Then by Brian Henley, has me thinking about time. The decision of a fruit farmer to sell his home enabled the creation of a refuge used by tired moms and their little ones throughout the century.

Perhaps I overthink things, but it amazes me how one decision can still affect people a hundred years down the road. Our lives have a ripple effect.

I don’t know. It’s just some food for thought.


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