Annual Trip to TorontoSaturday, July 13, 2013 by: Mac Headrick
Linda and I travelled to Toronto this past week. The purpose of our trip was to celebrate our annual visit to the big city to re-connect with our second son Sean and celebrate his birthday. Linda and I also experienced the storm that hit this region last Monday. In today’s column I will reflect upon our trip and discuss another weather related incidence that occurred 59 years ago.
A few years back our son Sean who was here for a Christmas visit remarked he would be returning home in a couple of days. Now this statement startled me a little. Sean was referring to Toronto as home. Up until this time I always thought that Sault Ste Marie was home to everyone in the family. The reality is that Sean has called Toronto home for the majority of his adult life. He works, plays, and lives there. Sean likes the big city. Now my formative years were spent in the Bar River flats, more specifically Calabogie Road. My idea of the big city is Sault Ste Marie.
While I enjoy visiting Toronto the idea of living there is inconceivable to me. Traffic, vast amounts of people, humidity, cost of housing etc insure I will remain a small town resident for life. A significant number of Torontonians appear to live on the streets. I wonder what they do to survive in the cold winter months. I know that homelessness exists in our city. It is just so much more visible in Toronto. I have found the public transportation system in Toronto convenient and easy to use. One thing I noticed is rush hour in Toronto starts earlier (6.30 a.m.) and ends later (8 p.m.) than in the past.
This past Monday was a very humid day in Toronto. Linda and I had been walking and shopping (more of the former) since 9 a.m. Around 3 p.m. we decided to return to our hotel (Holiday Inn, Carlton Street) to drop off purchases and take a break. We had planned to then go out again. Linda started reading a book while I practiced deep meditation. Now whenever I use the phrase “deep meditation”, most people would use the term “take a nap”. I woke up around 5.15 p.m. Our hotel room was on the sixth floor and relatively protected from the winds as taller buildings surrounded us. When I woke up the first thing I did was to ask Linda how long had it been raining. We turned on the television and realized Toronto was experiencing thunder storms and a historical rain fall. We went down to the hotel lobby to observe the strength of the rain. A little rain wasn’t going to stop us, so facing the storm like a man, Linda and I sat down at a table by the window in the hotel bar. Linda had wine and I consumed beer. To further fortify ourselves while watching the driving rain we consumed chicken wings and nachos. Now the bar was dry and safe. I noticed people entering the hotel were completely soaked.
By coincidence (and age) I have experienced the two largest flood disasters that have occurred in the history of Toronto. Hurricane Hazel hit the Toronto region on October 5/1954. I was five years old at the time. The Headrick clan at this time lived in a home situated along Lake Ontario between Hamilton and Burlington. The home had a long back yard. Where the yard ended, there was an easement to the railroad tracks. After the tracks the beach began. In normal conditions the distance to the water was approximately 100 yards (think football field). I remember sitting in our kitchen watching the waves from Lake Ontario rolling in our back yard. To my knowledge this situation had never occurred before or after. My father had the car packed and was watching the progress of the storm carefully. The plan was to evacuate the family if the water advanced past the half way mark of the yard. Fortunately that never occurred.
Now the highlights of our visit were the times spent with Sean. We didn’t do as many things (museum, art galleries etc) as in the past. We have been to Toronto enough times to create a “been there done that” reality. In addition transportation damage from the floods and predicted further thunderstorms kept us close to home (the hotel). The old Maple Leaf Gardens has been turned into an attractive grocery store and Ryerson arena. I enjoyed scouting out the store. During my lifetime I’d visited the old Maple Leaf Gardens for various events.
I noticed that parking rates are increasing at our local airport. Maybe it is me or coincidence but the three times I have used the overnight parking at the airport have resulted in a frustrating experience. It appears I am incapable of paying the parking fee and exiting the parking lot. When I returned this past Thursday the following occurred. The parking ticket machine wouldn’t accept the new $20 bill I was using to pay the fee. After attempting three times to use cash I switched to debit. I was the fourth car in line to exit. Every vehicle in front of me had problems. When it came to my turn, the machine would not accept my proof of payment. I called in and the attendant activated the gate. In the past I have had to go back in to the airport to seek assistance. The security in charge of the parking lot have always been polite and helpful. I could be wrong but my gut tells me that the parking system at the airport frequently has problems.
As I see it the Headrick annual trip to Toronto was very enjoyable. We got to see Sean which we always enjoy. He likes Toronto and doesn’t desire to return to Sault Ste Marie. I do not understand this but apparently children feel they are entitled to grow up and make their own life decisions. By coincidence Linda and I experienced a record breaking storm in the comfort of a cozy bar. Life is good!