After living and working in the Quinte area of Eastern Ontario (Belleville and Picton) for the past 27 years, I am returning to the once-very-familiar territory of Kitchener-Waterloo in June. It will be an opportunity for me to reconnect with family and old friends whom I have gradually lost touch with through time and circumstances.
During recent trips to K-W in search of some roots and an apartment to live in, I have been amazed, not only at how the area has changed, but also how much of it remains familiar. A walk through Waterloo Park two weeks ago, where I once trekked daily on my way to work at the University of Waterloo, revealed the same animal compounds (different animals), the familiar rippling brook flowing beneath the footbridge (new bridge), the band shell (where I used to perform jazz on Sunday afternoons), and the “breaker-breaker” calls of scarlet cardinals.
I’m not naïve. I fully realize that one cannot go home again in the sense that everything will remain as memory dictates. Many changes have occurred. Downtown Waterloo is now Uptown Waterloo. Seagram’s and Labatt’s are gone and with them, the essence of distilling and brewing that once wafted along Caroline Street and down Dorset past our previous home on Spring Street. There are new and rejuvenated homes, museums, theatres, cafes, and galleries, and the library has been enlarged and modernized. Both universities have overflowed their previous boundaries and spread their presence into every nook and cranny of the city.
Those revelations represent only my renewed experiences within Waterloo. Kitchener remains yet to be rediscovered.
It is not the past that I’m seeking in K-W, but the present. I won’t even attempt to imagine the future at this moment; it pretty much takes care of itself.
Following moving day, I’ll be searching for old friends and creating new ones. Music, photography and writing (my three amigos) will draw me through alleyways and into bookstores, clubs, concerts, festivals, parks, the corridors of both universities, and anywhere else where people are interesting.
Perhaps we’ll meet somewhere soon.