all the way to grandma's house

so last friday night i was booked to DJ that party at blue mountain. heading up to blue mountain meant passing through collingwood, which is where my mother was born and raised, and where my grandmother lives. i hadn't been up to collingwood in close to three years, since my grandfathers funeral. it's a pretty special town for me, for a number of reasons: i spent a lot of quality time in collingwood as a kid, and even lived there for the most of a year when my parents split up, my grandpa was born there, worked several notable jobs, including a number of years as the towns mayor. it's hard to turn a corner in collingwood without having some sort of memory or story pop into my mind.

friday afternoon was beautiful in toronto, extremely mild and sunny, and the drive north was much the same, until i got off the 400 in barrie and headed along highway 26 through the beach. it was like i had entered some sort of black hole (white hole?) of a snowy wind tunnel. i could barely see the ground or car in front of me, and most of the cars were driving with their emergency flashers on to help guide the pack. i thought it would be a good idea to compromise my driving to take this photo.

here's a shot of the parking lot in the village at the bottom of blue mountain. it was certainly pretty to see the mountain all lit up at night with the frosty snow blowing furiously.

my offer to DJ included paid accommodations for the evening at the lovely blue mountain resort, located right in the village at the bottom of the hill, practically next door to the club i was DJing at. they set me up in a gorgeous suite in the mosaic building, which featured a large kitchen, dining room, and living room, a fireplace, a den tucked in the back, 2 couches, 3 tv's, an extremely comfortable bed, and a massive bathroom with 2 sinks and doors from either side. here are some photos of the layout.

i was completely blown away by this hotel room, and the hospitality that the resort and the event organizers had shown me. this was probably one of the nicest hotels i've ever stayed in out of hundreds of hotels in dozens of countries world wide. i was certainly impressed, and immediately thought to myself "i need to get into Djing more often". the one slight bummer or let down was that i had planned to bring a special ladyfriend up with me for the evening, which fell through on account of the fact she had to work. so, i tried my best to enjoy the night on my own, but was mostly just bummed out on a failed romantic date opportunity.

here are some shots from the outside of the resort in the morning.

trapped under snow.

i headed down the mountain back into collingwood, en route to visit my grandma who i hadn't seen since my sisters wedding over two years ago.

like i mentioned before, collingwood is a very sentimental place for me, and it was both nice and hard for me to drive through what in my mind is "my grandpa's town" and be overwhelmed with memories. it was the first time being in collingwood without seeing grandpa, and it was pretty discouraging to see the town go further and further consumed by ski tourism. however, the little scratches the my grandpa has left are certainly still immanent on the town's walls.

seeing grandma was tough, she's getting old and has lost most of her organization of memories, along with a large amount of weight, the majority of her mobility, not to mention the love of her life. i certainly look a bit different than i did the last time i saw her, but she seemed to know that it was me, while going in and out of jogged memories. at one point she even said "well, isn't this quite the life" and kind of threw up her hands. it was certainly disheartening to see that she has reached the end of her road, where there isn't much left in this life that makes her happy, and it's hard for her to properly remember the things that do. what she wouldn't do to just get up, walk to the kitchen and bake an apple pie, or be sitting on the beach with her husband, i don't know. i'm glad i got up to see her though, as it had being weighing on me for quite some time to make the trip. it's certainly eye opening and served as a reminder to appreciate the little things in life, the opportunities you have to live and experience the world, and to embrace and cherish the ones you love.

i made a point to swing by a few places packed with memories and grab some photos while i had my camera with me. the first stop was right around the corner from my grandma's nursing home; the canadian legion hall. we played a show in collingwood back in january of 2003, here at the legion, and i walked over to visit my grandparents for tea and cake with josh and paul. grandpa used to take my brother and i here and tell us stories about the air force, and we'd climb up onto the big tank and gaze up at the fighter jet in wonder.

my next stop was towards the mountain to the shipyards to snag a photo of the grain elevators. my grandpa started working at the shipyards straight out of highschool, served many years as an employee and worked his way up to personnel and safety manager.

when i got closer, i noticed that the grain elevators are all that's left of the historic shipyards. it seems that the neighbouring land has been sold and will make way for condominium real estate.

next i headed back through the downtown strip on hurontario street to grab a photo of the town hall, where grandpa served as mayor back in the 60's, at the young age of 29. i was in a bit of a rush to get back to the studio, otherwise i would've peaked my nose into the town hall to see if they'd let me grab a photo of the town council conference "braniff room", named after gramps.

i also grabbed this shot of the canadian federal government building down the road from town hall.

next stop was through the old number/wood streets over to braniff court. i tried calling my mom to get the exact address of the house she grew up in on sixth street, but she wasn't picking up at the time.

then i headed south into nottawa where my grandparents spent most of the 90's after selling the cottages at wasaga beach. when my parents first split in '91 (i think?) we moved up to live in my grandparents house while they were vacationing in florida for the winter months. my first stop in nottawa was past the little school that i attended for a few months of second grade. it's all borded up now, but i was completely blown away by how small it actually is.

next i made a quick turn down mckeen blvd. to swing by the nottawa house, where i awkwardly approached the current owner of the house and had a quick little chat with him while asking permission to take a photo. he was nice, and seemed interested in the history of the house, although i wasn't really sure what he wanted to hear, and just told him that my brother and i shared the large room in the basement, and that there used to be a large snooker table on the other side of the main room downstairs.

the drive home was clear and sunny, and i decided to take the sideroads through duntroon, singhampton, shelburne, orangeville and caledon as opposed to highway 400, as this was the way we alwasy drove up when i was young.


Anonymous said...

Great entry! This was very nice to read. Thank you!

Jackie said...

I stayed at the Westin House in Blue Mountain last summer. It was absolutely gorgeous but there were too many bratty kids hanging out at the pool.

Also, I love, love, loved that "grain elevator" building or whatever you call it. Neither my brother or myself had cameras on hand but it took off our seat belts to hang out of the windows and look in its direction.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Billy. Nice to take a trip down memory lane. The pictures are great. Thanks for visiting Grandma. Grandpa was Mayor in the early 50's. He headed up the committee that brought all the mfg industries to C'wood and provided all the towns people new jobs. He worked with Joso Weider (owner of Blue Mt) to help Tourism put Collingwood on the map. 44 Sixth Street is the family home grandpa had built in the 50's where we lived for 12 years until I went to college and they bought Ye Olde Landmark and moved to Wasaga Beach. xoxoxoxo

Dani said...

one of the best blog entries i've read in a long time.
allllllllmost shed a tear. thanks a lot billy.

Matt Rennick said...

Down-side; Shipyards turned into Condos.

Plus-side; Steph designed the showroom for the Shipyards sales center and it looked great.

Ultimate Plus-side; http://www.x1984x.com/shipyards/