My mother grew up in that neighbourhood, too.
Our neighbourhood disappeared decades ago, or rather, was covered over with a new neighbourhood-- monster houses, row houses, giant condos, business towers, massive indoor malls, modern churches, a proliferation of Korean and Persian shop signs. The main street--Yonge Street--became a real concrete canyon.
As the development started when I was 13 or so, I guess I shouldn't say I grew up in the old neighbourhood. The new neighbourhood grew up with me: I worked in the new North York Centre mall and I studied in the North York Central Library. I've long been ambivalent about the changes, however. The last time I was home, I went for a walk with a new resident, a former professor of mine, showing him where my childhood home used to be, where the school-bus picked us up, and where the ravine starts. I pointed out where my grandfather's workplace--a massive printing press--used to be.
When I'm back in Willowdale, I like to pick out the few shops, buildings and trees that have managed to survive. The candy store, for example. And even here in Scotland I can recall great swathes of vanished streetscape.
This was not the first transformation of Willowdale, of course. After the Toronto Rebellion of 1837, British soldiers burned down the farmhouses owned by rebels on either side of Yonge. Until yesterday, that was the biggest local tragedy, and as it happened so long ago, it no longer seemed tragic.
Yesterday a man from nearby
One of my schoolmates was within earshot and seems traumatised, poor woman.
I saw the news online as I did a last check of Alfie Evans stories and went a little crazy as I tried to get in touch with my family. At last I got my dad on Skype, and while we were talking, my Toronto brother phoned him, so that was Quadrophonic accounted for, too. Try sister Tertia posted that she and her son Pirate were safe north of Steeles Avenue. Mum was at her volunteer job north-east of Finch and Yonge; Dad said he'd look for a phone number.
Dad was quick to suggest that this wasn't a terrorist attack but the actions of a madman. The police have released the man's identity, and when he was a teenager he was a high school student in Thornhill. I am disgruntled with people on Facebook who see photos and footage of the Persian signs and assume that Willowdale is "a Muslim neighbourhood" and that the perpetrator was Muslim.
|Sheppard-and-Yonge when I was a kid|
Does anyone ever imagine this could happen in their own quiet childhood town?
|Sheppard-and-Yonge when my mum was a kid.|