Posts Tagged ‘Oakville’

Have you ever had the honour of seeing the Golden Bear? Legend has it that the Golden Bear had no equal. The Golden Bear is believed to be a symbol of strength, wisdom and good fortune.

Here is my story of my encounter with the Golden Bear. Although he didn’t look like this one, in my humble opinion he has no equal and definitely is a symbol of strength, wisdom and good fortune.

Back in the ’70s…yes, I do remember parts of them but some dates are a little foggy so I will just say mid ’70s I went off to college for the first time. I had enrolled in the Professional Photography Program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario. I moved to Oakville early in the spring so that I could get sorted and find work before the school year started in September. I found a place to live behind the Towers Plaza (it isn’t there anymore). For the next several months I worked three jobs. Mornings I was a chambermaid at the Holiday Inn (it isn’t there anymore), afternoons I was a cashier at Dominion (it isn’t there anymore). In the evenings I babysat (those kids are long gone). Eventually I settled into the mad race between jobs. As anyone will tell you being a chambermaid is not very glamorous and there are times when things get a little…oh, those are stories for another day. However, occasionally rarely you found a room that was actually a pleasure to clean. This room, or perhaps I should call it a “den” was occupied by a nice young fellow who was a “permanent” resident  for a lengthy period of time. One day he asked if I would mind if he stayed in his room while I made the bed and cleaned the facilities. I didn’t see it as a problem. You can tell a lot about someone from cleaning their room and his lack of mess and general politeness was good enough for me. After that, he would stay in his room while I worked and he would chat about what he was doing there, far from home and his family. He had the most amazing drawings and plans all laid out and he would show them to me and explain. He was a wonderful man and I looked forward to that part of my work day.

At one point I went home to Niagara to visit my family for a couple of days. Most of my family were golfers. I am not. Dad loved the game and always enjoyed playing with my brothers even though they were all better than him. One of my sisters was really good. She could beat them all and could have gone pro but in the end she preferred the 19th hole to the other 18. My strategy was to watch golf with him on TV. In reality I watched him watch golf. I didn’t have a clue. This visit was going to be different. I was going to talk “golf” with him.

Dad and I watching golf in the ’70s.

“Hey, Dad…”
“Uh, huh.”
“They’re building a new golf course in Oakville…”
“Uh, huh.”
“It’s supposed to be the permanent site of the Canadian Open…”
“Uh, huh.”
“and they’re making it crowd-friendly so you can actually go and watch them play…”
“Uh, huh.”
“It’s to be called Glen Abbey.”
“Uh, huh.”
“It looks really cool.”
“Uh, huh.”
“Yeah, I know the designer and he showed me the drawings and the plans…”
“What do you mean you know the designer?”
“Yeah, his name is Jack and he’s really a nice guy and he showed me the drawings…”
“Yeah, Jack.”
“Any chance he looks like that guy?”
Dad pointed to the golf game on TV and looked at me. My gaze followed his finger and sure enough there was Jack on TV. My Dad was incredulous. He was more shocked at the fact that I didn’t know who Jack Nicklaus was than that I knew Jack. The rest of the weekend was pretty much him looking at me and laughing and shaking his head.
The next time I rapped on Jack’s door and said “housekeeping” he let me in and I gave him a swat on the shoulder. “You could have told me who you were!” I explained that my Dad had outed him, much to my embarrassment. He laughed and all he said was, “I thought it was kind of cool you didn’t know who I was.” I guess celebrity can run thin some times.
Jack Nicklaus at Glen Abbey before it was completed

Jack Nicklaus & Dick Grimm survey the land before Glen Abbey was completed

Many years later (about 30), I was invited by the Toronto Star to golf at Glen Abbey. At this point I was well aware of the caliber of course it was and had seen it on TV. I now lived in the “The Abbey” as they called it and had driven by it many times. I certainly knew that it was the first solo design of the legendary Golden Bear — golfer Jack Nicklaus. I offered my spot to one of my higher-ups (wow, was I good for brownie points on that one) but explained that I would really like to join them afterward for dinner in the Club House as I had never seen Glen Abbey from the inside. I told them my story and we all agreed to meet later. When I arrived someone from Glen Abbey greeted me and whisked me away in a golf cart for a private tour of the course. My colleagues had shared my story and arranged for me to see it. It was wonderful to remember all those years ago those lines on those big sheets of paper and see them here come to life.

Glen Abbey

More recently I found myself signing petitions to save Glen Abbey. One of Canada’s most famous golf courses and  home to Golf Canada and the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame. It has also hosted 30 Canadian Open Championships! It was slated for demolition by its current owners. In 2017 they proposed transforming the 80-hectare golf course into a subdivision with office buildings. Oakville council unanimously rejected this proposal and designated it a heritage site. Finally, after years of back and forth between the town and the company, on July 9, 2021, Steve Clark, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced that Glen Abbey will be preserved and continue to operate as a golf course, and the company withdrew its development application.

A few years back Jack’s face showed up on my screen. He was in tears. Oh no, what could have happened to this lovely man? Then I read what it was about. He had just witnessed what he called his “#1 Masters moment” when his grandson Gary aced the final hole of the 2018 Par 3 Contest and it brought him to tears. Yep. He is still one of the nicest guys I have ever met, and “The Golden Bear Legend” lives on.

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A little over a year ago we moved from a 3 bedroom, 1 floor condo, west of Toronto, to a 3 bedroom, 3 floor house east of Toronto. The move was a little over 100 km. With Toronto being in the middle it might as well have been 1000 km. When I lived west of Toronto it was nothing to “run home” to Niagara Falls for a couple of hours to visit family and friends. That drive across the top of Toronto can add anywhere from 1 – 3 hrs. (depending on the traffic) to my trip home now. Needless to say those visits are much less frequent.

So, why did we move? Well, our business was in the Durham Region and those treks from west to east on a daily basis were damaging us and our business. I really liked our condo. We had been in it for 8 years. It was, however, beginning to look less and less like a home. Everywhere I turned there was business stuff. Not just in the office. It was in the living room, the kitchen, the dining room, the bedroom and yes, even the bathroom (don’t ask).  We found this house and I liked it right away. But, the thing that sold me was when we opened the basement door and went downstairs. The basement had already been made into an office space! With cupboards and a sink and plenty of room for our business!  I was so happy as we brought everything in, because if it had “office” written on it, it went downstairs.  I now had a living space and a working space and I could come upstairs at the end of the day and close the door and that was that.

A recent visit to Dr. A had her a little concerned with my well being.  I have gained weight and have been struggling with getting rid of it.  I have a Gazelle exercise machine set up so I can take breaks from the computer and get some exercise, but doesn’t seem to be helping. The good Doctor suggested we run some blood tests and that I should walk for 20 minutes every day.  I looked at the sheet she handed to me to see what she was testing.  As I drove home I did some thinking. One of the things she checked off were my Vitamin D levels. Hmmm, if I am not mistaken (it happens on a rare occasion) Vitamin D is the “sunshine vitamin”.  It then occurred to me that I actually rarely see sunshine.  The first 6 months we lived here I would accompany He-Who* on the front porch or the back deck for some “fresh air” (as we call it in my family) otherwise known as a smoke break.  In January I got really sick and stopped doing this.  I stopped going outside.  By the time I got home I had figured out that although I had a great working space there was something missing.  Windows. All the windows were in the laundry room side of the basement. It was lovely and bright in the laundry room.  It was dark and dismal in the office part.  Could it be I was just not getting enough sunshine and fresh air?

The first day I tentatively walked around the block. It took me 15 minutes.  I was not that familiar with the territory so I kept my head down and went a little further each day and then would see how long it took me.  I went to 38 minutes, then 45, then 50 until I finally made it to just a little over an hour.  An hour is my goal each day hopefully picking up speed as I carry on.  I have also incorporated it into other things I have to do.  I needed an oil change so I drove my car to the shop, dropped it off and walked a half-hour in one direction and then a half-hour back to my car. He-Who does the grocery shopping, so the other day I went with him.  When he went into the store I started walking towards home. An hour later he picked me up on his way home from the store.

We live in the downtown area. It is a little rough around the edges and sometimes a little intimidating. The other day I accidentally lifted my head while walking the usual route and noticed these…

A brazen glance to the left and I saw these…

…then to the right there were these…

It was head up and eyes all over the place after that. How could I have been walking past all this and not noticed it?  I walk with 1 piece of ID and my cell so I started taking pictures with my phone…

There was a lot I was missing as I scurried along my route. We have lived here a year and I find myself coming home and saying things to He-Who, like, “Did you know there was a big city pool behind us? With a big park behind it? I saw families playing!”

I am not Anglican but I have to tell you this sign made me stop. I read it twice before I took the picture. I quite like what it has to say.

I walked past several fire hydrants that were hand-painted. I will have to do some investigating to find out the story behind them. This one was my favourite.

This is a General Motors town. I have passed this place every day. Several years ago I worked on a documentary about GM in St. Catharines. Some day when I am not all hot and sweaty, I will go in.

Last weekend I heard music, people laughing and a lot of activity (of course this was “pre-looking up” walking). It turns out there is a beautiful bandstand with seating and a lovely park.

The sides of the bandstand are made of these panels…

and there is this wonderful monument beside it.

I have blisters, bites and sunburn but I feel better than I have in months and as it turns out there is lots to see on my walks.  All I had to do was get up, go outside, get some sunshine, fresh air and move again. Thanks Dr. A.

*Recently a friend referred to He Who Shall Remain Nameless For His Own Protection as He-Who because as she stated, “I can call him that because we are on a first name basis”.  Well, I’m on a first name basis with him too (at least for the time being) so He-Who it is!

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FRAMED DUCK copyAt a recent Toastmaster meeting it was pointed out that the lovely town that I live in has a relocation program for geese. Seriously, the Town of Oakville has a “Geese Relocation Program”. Forms are filled out, Town Staff gets involved and there are lots of rules and regulations on how to go about this. Apparently, there are people and businesses that actually make a living relocating geese. There were many suggestions that evening on “alternative” solutions (some included stuffing) and better ways to spend our tax dollars. I kept my mouth shut as the conversation brought to mind a couple of times that I ran afoul of some of our fine feathered friends.

While driving to work one day, along the QEW from Oakville to Burlington… a drive that in another world (one that would not include the always backed up QEW) would take 12 minutes, I was brought to a standstill just short of my exit. I could see the police vehicles across the full stretch of the highway and down the off ramp, lights flashing. This did not bode well. As always, I immediately got my patience in check, said a little prayer for whoever was involved in the certain crash, and thanked God once again that it was not me. Time does not fly by as you sit and wait these things out. I was able to make some calls to get things going at work as my car slowly crept forward onto the off ramp. “Ok, I’m on the ramp now and I don’t see any crash, so it must have been cleared away, I won’t be long now…
Are you freaking kidding me!?”
Needless, to say the person on the other end of the phone was a little taken aback at my break from protocol. There in front of me with a police vehicle on both sides and one behind was a family of ducks being escorted across the highway and down the ramp. When I relayed this information to my place of employment, they questioned the time of day being a “little early” for whatever I was on. After assuring them that I was clean and sober and disconnecting I called the local radio station to report the traffic situation. After they stopped laughing they put me on the air where I was able to give a waddle by very slow waddle report of the feathered convoy with the police escort for the next 20 minutes. Turns out that day must have been the day all the ducks decided to “get to the other side” because there were reports of these police encounters all day long. I’ll bet those police officers never thought they would be writing up duck reports when they graduated police academy.

Years ago when I was still making a living as a photographer I was sent on assignment to a farm in a rather remote area. I love shooting outdoors and was looking forward to the flower and fauna shots ahead of me. Appointments were always scheduled through head office in Toronto. Our assignment sheets would have the name, address, the nature of the shoot, specific things to look for, etc. If there was any kind of safety issue it was always noted big and bold and red. Farms in remote areas often have guard dogs, swamps or sink holes that can all be treacherous so I read my summary sheet carefully. Seeing no danger warnings I exited my vehicle and started to unload my equipment for the day from my trunk. These were the days before digital – nothing was small. As I draped myself with cameras, lights, lenses and tripods to trek into the site I felt a pain in my ankle. Thinking I had simply bumped into a stump or stone, I continued to take steps toward the doorway of the building. Again a pain at my ankle, again, again…both ankles were screaming out in agony now. I stumbled, but caught myself with visions of thousands of dollars worth of equipment crashing to the ground. The pain was excruciating. Something was hammering away at my ankles. There was a blur of activity as hands reached out to help me and I saw feathers floating in the air. Panicked voices…”You were supposed to wait in your car till we came and got you. We told the lady on the phone, make sure she stays in her car till we get there. She has to stay in the car, we have an attack duck. We’re so sorry. Let me take that. Here, we’ll help you inside”…
“Wait a minute, wait just one darn minute there, did you say you have…you have an attack what?”
“We have an attack duck.” “You have an attack duck. Of course you do. Who doesn’t have an attack DUCK?” After the trip to the emergency ward, the wrapping, the icing, the crutches and the prescribed pain killers I called my office. “Is there anything you forgot to tell me about that assignment today.” “No, you had all the information. I bet you had a great time, they had a really good sense of humour on the phone.”
“What do you mean?”
“They had us going trying to convince us that they had an ‘attack duck’. Can you imagine?” Well, as a matter of fact, City Girl, I can! I hung up and put my poor bruised and swollen ankles up on a pillow.

Duck, duck, goose…it’s all gone to the birds!


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