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Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Hometown Tourist

I'm going to be the first one to admit that some of you have more than likely have already seen these snapshots already...especially if you have me friended on Facebook. But for those of you who don't know me nearly so intimately (and keep in mind, I do use the word “intimately” very loosely), then you're in for a treat, because this Thursday Diary entry will probably allow you to get to know me a little more than you might think. And, in the course of this entry, I learn something about well as where I come from.

July 11, 2013

Happy Seven-Eleven Day!

You know, under normal circumstances, I would celebrate 7-11 day by heading out to the 7-Eleven store to buy one of those infamous Slurpees, and drinking the whole thing. It is summer after all, which is the perfect time to indulge in a cool drink like a Slurpee.

There's just one problem. My hometown does not have a 7-Eleven. Not one. In fact, if I remember correctly, the closest 7-Eleven that I know of is located in Ottawa, which is a good hour and a half drive from here. At least.

In fact, for the longest time (and you might already know this if you have read any of my previous blog entries circa 2011 or so), I was one of those people who didn't think that my town had much of...well...anything. And, a 7-Eleven was just scratching the surface.

My hometown is a town that many consider to be the retirement capital of Canada. Which, granted, considering how calm and quiet the town is most days, I can definitely see why so many would be attracted to this place. It is a great place to live if you're looking for somewhere nice to spend your golden years.

But for people my age or thereabouts...many have asked the following question.

What do we do here? Why is this place so dull? Why is there nothing here for young people?

Believe me. At times in my life, I've asked myself the same question.

It's not so much because of the fact that I wish we had a 7-Eleven here. We already have Mac's and Beckers, so I don't think that we really need one. But I was thinking that it would be nice to have more opportunities here. I wish that we had a better variety of college courses available for people my age to take. I wish that there were more events for people my age to mingle at. I wish that there were social gatherings for single people to attend just to meet other people.

And, maybe there are places like that in town, but nobody has ever informed me that these places or events even exist here. It's hard to be a thirty-two year old single man in this town.

(But then again, I suppose it's hard to be a thirty-two year old man anywhere in this world. Still, I'm dealing with it okay.)

But last week, I decided that I would change my way of thinking a bit. And, all that it took was putting some fresh batteries inside of my digital camera, checking my memory card inside of the camera to see if there was enough space on it for more photos, and going out for a nice, long walk to snap some pictures of town.

Why did I decide to do this? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

One, it's been a really long time since I went out around town and snapped some photos. Truth be told, I misplaced my camera during the entire year of 2012, and just now found it three months ago, and I wanted to check and see if it still worked. And, as you'll see, my camera works beautifully.

(Well, at least it does during the day. My flash bulb only works half the time, so I will have to see if I can get a replacement.)

So, last Thursday, I decided to embark on a little bit of a project. What if I saw my town through the eyes of a tourist? What if I decided to ditch my previous feelings about the place I call home for one day and saw the city through the eyes of someone who was arriving in town for the first time?

That was the premise behind my tour of the city last week. And, here are some of the highlights.

(Mind you, I didn't post EVERY picture I snapped. If I loaded this blog entry with every picture I took, I would probably break my blog. I snapped over two hundred, after all! For this entry, I'm going to do a Top 10 list.


I'm going to start my tour by talking about our museum. Established in 1981, at first glance, you might not believe that it is a museum as it kind of resembles a lot of the houses that are parked alongside the waterfront. But if you go inside, you'll see artifacts dating all the way back to 1832 (the year of the town's founding). I remember visiting the museum a few times when I was in elementary school, and have nothing but fond memories every time I went. Believe me, the building may look small, but good things do come in small packages.


First things first, this is not the original entrance of the library. Sometime during the 1990s, the library was completely renovated and the old entrance was removed (though the old door was transformed into a huge picture window which remains). The reason I am posting the picture of the library is because some of my fondest memories happen to have been at this very location. I still remember walking to the library with my mom every Thursday to check out the maximum number of books I could check out each week (which was ten), and then going back to the library the following week to check out ten more.


There's a place in town called Court House Square – a beautiful area where our law offices, and main court house is located. And in the direct center of the square is this fountain. Now, I have to admit that this fountain was the site of one of my most interesting moments during my teen years. I don't have too many happy memories of my high school years, but I will say that one of the more pleasant ones was myself and my entire graduating class jumping into this fountain and splashing each other for Grad Goodbye Day. I don't remember who I splashed, but I certainly got drenched by the end of it!


This was my childhood street. In the background, you can see the town hospital (where I had my gall bladder removed), and the other brick building was the place where I attended school between grades nine and OAC. And, if you can make out the house with the small porch and the third floor attic window...well, that was where I lived between the ages of five and nineteen. Though I want to stress that my childhood home looks better now than it EVER did when I was living there. Still, even though the house wasn't in the best condition, it was home...and part of me still kind of misses it.


I'm going to say that some of my fondest childhood memories were born right in this very park. Despite the fact that there were signs telling you NOT to feed the birds, when I was a kid I pretended that I “couldn't read” them, and fed the hungry ducks anyway. The pathways that encircled the shores of the St. Lawrence River were always great for pictures (see the sailboat picture up above), and the playground was where the Teddy Bear Picnic was held every year. If memory serves me, it was one of these picnics where a clown handed me a yellow balloon, which I took with me to the parade that was going on just an hour later.

And, speaking of parades...


Welcome to Downtown Brockville, the home of some of the biggest events that have ever taken place in town. While some of them were not happy moments (such as a couple of fires that devastated the core of the city back in the mid-1960s and early 1970s), most of them were. Whether it was browsing the racks and shelves that were set up during sidewalk sales, watching the Canada Day parades that the former town festival Riverfest put on marching down the street, or sipping hot cups of cocoa while waiting for Santa Claus to make his appearance at the annual Santa Claus parade, King Street was the place to be. And, can I show you one of my favourite places on the entire street? It's ranked at #4.


Now, this bookstore downtown has been through a number of name changes over the years. When I first began shopping at this store at the tender age of nine or ten, it used to be called Mulberry Hill Books, and the entire storefront was painted purple. Then a few years after that, the purple walls were coated with black paint, and the name changed to Walkabout Books. These days, the book store is now known as Book Trader.

So, why have I singled out this store in particular? Well, as you well know, I am a huge collector of comic books. And, this store offered used digests for an incredibly low price. I remember wanting to go to this bookstore every month, and spending practically my whole allowance on Archie digests. Of course, there's going to come a time in which I will eventually get all the Archie digests ever made...but even after that day comes, I'll still shop in this bookstore, as they carry used books of every genre, as well as DVD's and CD's. Believe me, this is one store you want to see.


This monument (which can be found just outside of Court House Square), was erected shortly after the conclusion of World War II. The cenotaph is designed to honour the memory of the people who fought for our freedom and who sacrified everything to ensure that we all continued to have it. Every November 11, all of the elementary school let out shortly before 10:00 am so we could walk to the cenotaph to observe the Remembrance Day ceremony and lay wreaths at the base of the cenotaph. Very moving ceremony.


I grouped both of these together because they are so close to each other.

Okay, so first, we have City Hall, which is the place where town council meetings are held, and which is the place where I would always watch the fireworks on Canada Day (from the fire escape, which at that time, nobody kicked me off of). It's also the place in town that has the iconic clock tower, which has been incorporated in every single logo that the town has.

Beside City Hall is the famed Market Square, where three days a week during the summer months, street vendors, artisans, and food growers would set up shop and sell their wares to tourists and locals. The best time to go down to Market Square is definitely Saturdays. There's just a great vibe down there.


They always say that a picture is worth a thousand these shots of Block House Island will be my words on what I think is the best place in Brockville to hang out at. I just wanted to end this note off by saying that capturing the beauty and excitement of my hometown on a summer's day makes me really appreciate the town where I grew up and in which I currently live. Sometimes we're surrounded so much by the negativity regarding the economy and other things that we forget just how good we have it here. Pretending to play the role of tourist rejuvenated my feelings for my hometown, and I recommend that everyone do this in their own communities too. While I may not remain in this town forever, I will state that this experience has made me realize not to forget where I came from...because as you've all seen, it's a pretty darn nice place.

So, to conclude, some more pictures from Block House Island. Thanks for sharing the virtual tour with me.

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