The picture on the left is of my Grandmother, Janet Bayes, as a child, in 1944. She stands on the front step of the house she and her family lived in, located in New Toronto.
In the summer of 2011, my family and I decided to go for a drive to New Toronto. Among the sight-seeing tour was, of course, my Grandmother’s house, as well as my Grandfather’s house and my other Grandparent’s homes. They all grew up in the same area – a few streets over from one another, actually – and yet both sets of my Grandparents didn’t know each other until my parents met and married years later, after they had moved away. Destiny works in mysterious ways, I guess.
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when my parents and I decided to take the drive. We visited each house – now inhabited by other families – and took pictures from the outside to later show my Grandparents. We also went to the Lakeshore, in which my Grandparents went swimming as kids, and then to each of my Grandparent’s workplaces as teenagers and young adults. My parents told me all the stories they knew as I clicked away on the camera.
It was my idea of a perfect Christmas gift to give each set of Grandparents a framed picture of their childhood home. They laughed, and cried, when they received them, and they told me stories I’d never heard before.
But the main reason we visited New Toronto that day – the main reason I wanted to visit – was to find something tangible, stable, and reliable. My Grandmother (pictured above) was diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing chemo treatments at this time. And yet there her house stood before me. Strong, solid, safe, after all these years.
Visiting New Toronto was an amazing, overwhelming experience, and the memories and stories that were conjured from the visit made it all the more nostalgic.