Thursday, February 5, 2009

Have Fun & Remember Verdun

Our Social Pathways: The Old Fire Lanes of Crawford”

The English Corner

par Rohinton Ghandhi
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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?

1 comment:

Les F said...

I never heard of this sale of the land that ,was, the laneway, does make sense to allow the homeowner on each side an opportunity to expand their backyards to encompass the old lane,.....but also there goes a part of history that many of us will think of ,only upon a visit back there to see ,an old stomping ground gone for good,.....It certainly will look nicer than the garbage cans & old sheds,but ,You know what,that was Our Ground as kids,we shared it as a play place,and a place of learning in all forms of growing up.
Not to mention we learned not to get hit by the Oil truck or the Garbage Truck or the odd neighbourhood Nut,who thought it was his own private Napierville track........hahahahahah Keep those old photo's folks cause it's never coming back.......................Have Fun and Remember Verdun