Friday, February 6, 2009

Have Fun and Remember Verdun

Our Social Pathways: The Old Fire Lanes of Crawford”

The English Corner

par Rohinton Ghandhi
Voir tous les articles de Rohinton Ghandhi
Article mis en ligne le 1 décembre 2008 à 15:26
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“Our Social Pathways: The Old Fire Lanes of Crawford”
“Our Social Pathways: The Old Fire Lanes of Crawford”
The English Corner
In an age without the internet nor cell phones, when the written words of letters, memos, and messages still mattered. “Networking” was done by actually walking through our neighborhood and getting to know people face-to-face. This form of networking required much more finesse than with the electronic relationships we form today, because the bonds we created with people were much more personal than through any virtual medium.
Crawford Park, as late as the late 70’s, had its own “Social Pathways”, the official Fire Lanes that ran between the backyards of many streets and the unofficial “lanes” between houses, which provided shortcuts to popular destinations, such as the park and the general store. Those lanes had an inherent beauty to them, as they provided a key element for us to socialize with our neighbours. Just a simple smile, and a remark about the weather, would suffice in starting a conversation and in creating friendships, which in many cases would last a lifetime.

These unpaved lanes made our own personal “Diversities” a non-issue, as we all had more in common as neighbours, than we had differences as individuals. The relationships we formed allowed us to respect those differences and to respect our friendship first.

Compared to the noise and grit of working downtown, Crawford Park, with its friendly people, many trees, open parks, including the Douglas grounds, made you feel like you were “going to your country place” every night. It was not just the relaxing surroundings, it was the people you knew as a family that gave you a feeling of being home.

Listening to the flocks of songbirds, as you sauntered down theses lanes, was simply amazing. The sheer variety of birds found and heard in Crawford seemed endless. We hear less of them today, in our reduced green spaces. Almost everyone had a pet cat, or dog, or both, which you would greet as your own. Traveling these lanes allowed you to form bonds with the animal members of the community as well. As pet-owners, we took pride in treating our pets as our own family. Something that openly seems lost today.

As the 1980’s came, the unofficial paths started to be sealed permanently, as our society made us more protective of ourselves and of our properties. One by one, the lanes disappeared, cutting off our shortcuts, and in a way removing the “Social Pathways” to our community permanently.

Eventually, the City of Verdun allowed citizens to expand their properties by purchasing the lane spaces, adjacent to their homes, for $1. Which most homeowners did.

Today, the narrow footpaths, and almost all of the lanes are gone. With them went our ability to informally get to know our neighbours, and to share in their diversity. Lanes that remain, have high fences that are much less inviting than the people-friendly ones we all leaned across, to share a laugh and a smile with people who cared.

Unlike the end of Verdun’s free-tennis courts this year, it was not our mayor that caused our lanes to disappear. For many seasons those old lanes connected us all. It was a change in our own self-protective values as a society, which started their final winter. As a famous songwriter once wrote, their demise was simply, “Blowing in the Wind”.

We welcome your input, your stories, and your comments to the Verdun Messager’s “English Corner”.

What do you think of this column appearing occasionally in our Verdun community paper? Good idea


Les F said...

I thought I had posted this here on this site ,but again I had it on my site only.....Yikes !
I have to check that 'post' thing more carefully,.I thought there was a way to post on both simultaneoulsy but I guess not.............. In anycase the article is from the Messanger & entitled English Corner or something like that,...................checkitout if you like HF&RV

Gord Carlington said...

Seems like a great idea based on this one


irene o'connell said...

I enjoyed this segment very much, sure did bring back memories as I lived once on Leclair in Crawford Park. I would like to see more articles of such information. Thanks for sharing.

Guy Billard said...

Those lanes were also used for garbage collection. You did'nt see garbage in front of some houses like you do today. Those lanes were playgrounds for us kids and we spent a good part of the day playing in our yards and in the lanes. See my album no. 23 as I have two photos on lanes and more to come.

Les F said...

Guy ,while I was on a visit to Montreal years ago, I mentioned that it seemed odd that the lanes ,which were being rid of the sheds, had street lights in them & they were also cleaner than I had remembered,& garbage was now collected out front of the houses on the streets ,which seemd to be a bit strange, Until a friend of mine told me that ,it was collected out front of the houses,only because the new garbage trucks of today,cannot fit into the lanes or manouvere the 90 degree turns,..& if you look at the trucks of today,they are vastly larger than the old familiar trucks from our day,No one thought of this ,when purchasing new trucks, the obvious had to happen,the backyards became just that,backyards,.& I think they look great,just different,....I wonder though ,what happens to private parking in the backyard,now that they are eliminating the lanes themselves ??? Seems like the loss of population from the 70's means fewer cars on the street,& now they would be forced to park the fewer cars on te street,instead of the backyards.?????

Henrik Vogt said...

Actually some of the lanes in Crawford Park disapeared in the early '60s The one between Fayolle and Foche in particular.

Les F said...

Wow , that would have made for some nice little backyards,...Crawford Park was already nice,but with yards like that & no lanes,would have been pretty neat......Thanks for the Info..............HF&RV