Occasionally Long Branch is described as a drive-through kind of place – which, for some of us, is what it is

Long Branch (Toronto not New Jersey) has many characteristics. The characterization depends upon the observer.

I much appreciate a recent message from Colleen O’Marra (see below), which has given rise to this blog post.

My friend Sid Olvet of Oakville has remarked that each person who encounters Long Branch encounters it according to the era, and the stage in a person’s life, in which the encounter occurs.

That remark has stayed with me.

I much enjoy the old stores, the boarded up stores, the new stores, the ordinariness and the extraordinariness of the Lakeshore communities. I feel blessed each day to be walking in an truly engaging museum with thousands of curators, past and present, whose curatorial efforts are unofficial and unheralded and yet readily observable. I also enjoy the new stores and shops, the heralds of gentrification. All that is observable on our streets are central ingredients of a show and spectacle that brings joy to some and whatever other feelings to others. That traffic collisions I don’t enjoy but they too are part of the fabric of our lives.

I think of children I’ve known since they were toddlers who used to roll down the hill at the northeast corner of the Parkview School grounds, as I’ve described on the landing page of the Preserved Stories website. For those children, at that age, the hill was a big one; it took a lot of effort to climb it. Now that they are in their early teens, the immensity of the hill is no longer apparent.

I’m also aware, as I’ve discussed elsewhere on this website, and in a video, that the hill was built up with debris from the razing, in 1955, of a log cabin – to which extensions and siding were added over the course of about 152 years of continuous use – that Colonel Samuel Smith had constructed in a forest clearing, in 1797, some years after the American Revolutionary War; the cabin was built at a location just south of where the current hill on the school grounds was created in 1955.

I’m also aware that some online accounts of the bulldozing of the cabin erroneously assert that the demolition occurred in 1952. I’m aware of the archaeological report based on a preliminary dig conducted in 1984 in the area; I’ve interviewed the archaeologist; I’ve consulted newspaper accounts that indicate the date of the demolition. These are thoughts that occur to me each time, or some of the time, that I walk by the site. These are my own particular experiences of a small part of Long Branch.

Toronto Star article refers to drive-through quality of Long Branch

The Toronto Star occasionally speaks of Long Branch as a drive-through community, as in an Oct. 21, 2011 article. The characterization is repeated in a June 25, 2013 Toronto Star article.

That’s one way that a person might perceive the community. That’s one way to experience it.

However a person experiences a community makes good sense for that person. Much depends on the observer’s role at a given time, on a given day, at a given stage of a person’s life. Each perspective warrants celebration. Each way of seeing a community has tremendous value.

Comment from Colleen O’Marra

I am very pleased to share with you Colleen O’Marra’s comment of June 25, 2013:

“Typical again of The Star to describe the village of Long Branch as simply a drive-through.The lack of modern shops and certainly customers walking along our Lakeshore is not the whole picture. The people of Long Branch matter most. The condos and townhomes are sprouting up all over bringing in the business every town needs. We know where we are on the map. Everywhere are the signs of the old village and the citizens who love it. It’s the best kept secret in the borough…don’t judge the community by the out-dated businesses. In a way, these stores hide the true beauty of our parks, homes and the gorgeous lakefront. Drive through if you must. But you’re missing the real gold. (Colleen M. O’Marra)”


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