Family and friends,
Steven and I were so blessed this trip to reconnect with family and friends in Canada that we’ve been unable to see for far too long. The initial reason or ‘culprit’ was the pandemic which closed down the border between our two countries. I think Covid and the passage of time that I began to feel most acutely spurred me to make a concerted effort to reach out to friends I’d grown up with and hoped to see again when planning this epic road trip. The first of those friends was my childhood friend Diana and her husband in Toronto, our first port of call in our six-week ‘detour’ to eastern Canada en route to the Florida Panhandle.
Even though it had been umpteen years since we’d seen each other in person, Diana and I both remarked that it felt like ‘yesterday’ and we picked up right where we had dropped off as they introduced us to their favorite haunts in Toronto. How lucky Steven and I are to have such dear friends.
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All the best to you and your loved ones, and especially your friends,
Our first stop in our almost six-week-long tour of eastern Canada was in Toronto to visit my very good high school friend, Diana, and her husband, David, at their home. Though many decades had passed since Diana and I were in close contact, the miles and time apart hadn’t dimmed our friendship. Thanks to cheap phone plans between Canada and the US, we were still able to keep each abreast of the changes in our lives as children and then grandchildren came along!
When Diana and I walked along the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail just a few blocks from their home in The Beaches section of downtown Toronto, it was like ‘old home week’ and the years fell away. Diana mentioned that she takes their dog, Max, for daily walks along the boardwalk. We had a chuckle with the name as Max is also our elder granddaughter’s name!
The Dr. William Young Memorial and Fountain in Kew Gardens honored an early 20th-century local physician who, before universal health care, devoted himself to the health and welfare of children of the Beaches. While tending to the sick during an influenza epidemic, Young died almost penniless from the flu due to his pro bono work with local children.
When the Kew Williams House was constructed in 1902 in the Canadian Kew Gardens, it had been a campground resort on the outskirts of the city.
I think the lush red tree was a Japanese maple, Diana’s favorite tree. She would definitely know as she’s planted something like a dozen or more varieties in their front and back yards.
The large lawn at Kew Beach was for bocce ball fans as I recall. Please correct me, Diana, if I’m mistaken!
The trail along the Lake Ontario waterfront took us past large beaches that must be a magnet in the hot summer months. We saw a few intrepid swimmers even though it was still a chilly May day.
Lifeguards at the Leuty Lifeguard Station have been watching over swimmers and boaters since 1920. The simple clapboard structure used to be one of many buildings along the beach but it, vendors, and boats for hire were forced to move because of the threat of erosion. Luckily, when it began to fall into disrepair in the 1990s, the local community fundraised to save it from demolition. It was now one of just two left on Toronto’s waterfront.
Murals along the boardwalk:
Later that morning, David and Diana treated us to a drive downtown and a ride on the tender to the Royal Canadian Yacht Club or RCYC where they had been long time members. The M.V. Hiawatha was built in Toronto in 1895 to transport the club’s members and guests to the clubhouse on Toronto Island.
Illustrious passengers included Edward, Prince of Wales in 1919, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in 1983, and his son, Charles, Prince of Wales, nine years later. Before being converted to diesel in 1950, it was manually coal-fired and steam-powered. The romantic name of the late 19th-century launch was inspired by the Longfellow poem Song of Hiawatha and the indigenous street names of Toronto Island. The boat underwent a major retrofit and restoration in 1983.
I regret not suggesting we put down our masks for the photo but they were required on the boat.
The Toronto skyline including the iconic CN Tower on the left.
The elegant RCYC:
David and Steven walking from the Hiawatha on the right.
The club’s landscapers were busily getting ready for the seasonal opening in about ten days. How beautiful the grounds must have looked then!
Since Steven and I didn’t grow up around boats, it was a whole new world for us to wander around the many boats that were moored at the club. I enjoyed seeing this boat being very carefully lowered into the water. David explained their own boat had gone through the same process a few weeks earlier.
I’m pretty sure that 45 or so years ago, well before I met Steven, I had been treated to a sail on David’s family boat but it was too early in the season for that to occur again, unfortunately.
After a delicious lunch in the clubhouse dining room, we took the tender back to the city and walked around its 19th-century pedestrian-only Distillery Historic District that used to house a large whiskey distillery owned by David’s distant relatives. Its cobblestone streets were lined with busting restaurants and bars, and galleries and boutiques.
The sign colorfully proclaimed the Beach neighborhood.
Later that afternoon, the four of us and Max, their dog, walked in the Glen Stewart Ravine a few blocks from their home. The mostly accessible ravine contained a rare red oak forest where thousands of new trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses had recently been planted.
Goodness only knows how long it had been since I’d seen Ontario’s provincial flower, the trillium. It gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling spotting a flower from my childhood.
How I wish I had taken a photo of Diana and myself sans masks but this phot of Diana and David will be a great reminder of the fun couple of days Steven and I were able to spend with such dear friends until we hope to meet up again in the not too distant future.
Next post: Onto my hometown of Ottawa.
Posted on July 12th, 2022, from Grayton Beach State Park on Florida’s Panhandle where we’ve come for a couple of weeks every summer for about 15 years to rest and recharge.
4 thoughts on “5/18/22: Connecting with Friends in Toronto”
How lovely that you were able to spend time with your friend and pick up your friendship again in person 🙂
Indeed, Steven and I were very lucky to spend time with both Diana and David near the beginning of our road trip. The combination of Covid and my advancing years had an unexpectedly effect on me that I didn’t realize until this spring – namely an urge to reconnect with friends that had been so important in my life earlier on. I was extremely fortunate that each one was also very receptive to my outreach and wanting to maintain the friendship more actively going forward.
Oh Annie what a touch of class, both you AND Diana wearing a face mask which matches your outfit! Very classy… Actually Toronto is a city on our list, purely because my oldest buddy and his wife went there for a week and had a fabulous time, several years ago. Great for you to meet an old friend and mess about amongst the boats.
I laughed when reading your comment, Phil, as I don’t know about Diana but I wasn’t trying to match my mask to my jacket. I had bought my mask in French Polynesia last December and it’s a very comfortable one, though not one of the recommended N95 masks. If and when you get to Toronto, I look forward to seeing what you and Michaela do. How T.O. has changed since I knew it decades ago!