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Synapticism

An experiential journal of synchronicity and connection

Canada

Canada is a multicultural nation, the second-largest in the world, with a relatively modest population of approximately 35 million people. It is a geographically disparate place that is tremendously difficult to explore without a car. I was born and raised in Canada but don't strongly identify with my homeland, possibly because I haven't really seen that much of it outside the three major cities, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Shapeshifter

Shapeshifter
Twisting into the sky.

Picture here are the “Marilyn Monroe” towers in Mississauga, more formally known as Absolute World. They’re just about the only distinctive piece of architecture in the city apart from the “futuristic farm” of the Mississauga Civic Centre. The towers are relatively new—at least they weren’t around when I was growing up here—so I am still surprised anytime I see them, which is quite often. Even though they’re located in what passes for “downtown” Mississauga they are plainly visible from the western edge of Erin Mills.

My Last Weekend in Toronto for a While

This’ll be my last weekend in Toronto for a while. I’m heading off the continent for the winter. It’s been lovely staying here a few months and reconnecting with friends and family but I have to keep moving; my work isn’t done. This is “see ya later” but not “goodbye”, for I will return.

Unmaking History in My Hometown

A window into hometown history
A window into hometown history.

This summer I went out in search of old, abandoned places in my hometown, Mississauga, a typically ahistorical Canadian suburb. I figured there must be something of interest in historic Streetsville, a 19th century settlement now embedded in the sprawling webwork of strip malls and sub-developments that define the suburban landscape. After finding nothing remarkable along the main stretch I headed south along Mississauga Road and chanced upon the Leslie Log House, originally built in 1826. It was moved to its current location on the grounds of the old Pinchin Farm in 1994 and later renovated and modernized. Nowadays it is both a museum and the home of the Streetsville Historical Society.

That’s all well and good—but such buildings seldom exude the quality of age I watch for in my wanderings. And so I set out down a short trail to investigate another building not far from the log house, a crumbling ruin for which there was no sign or plaque, only a poorly maintained chain-link fence that had collapsed in on itself. This barrier indicated that this particular building had not been sanitized for human consumption. Here was the secret history I had been seeking—something genuinely old, unrestored, and neglected. Finally, a storied place that had been left to the elements!

From what little I have been able to glean from online sources the Pinchin Farm was a commercial apple orchard, the last of its kind in Mississauga, and was home to a farmhouse and a barn (the foundation of which is pictured above). Unsurprisingly, both heritage structures were demolished in late 2009 due to the advanced deterioration of the buildings. I say “unsurprisingly” because this is altogether too common in Canada—we destroy what little scraps of history we have on the off-chance someone might step on a rusty nail and sue. This creates a safe yet bland society, for danger is ameliorated at the expense of adventure and discovery.

Seasons Change

Seasons change
Fall colours on asphalt.

Leaves on the driveway representing a moment of contemplation, a plan of action slowly taking form.

Toronto Standard Time

Toronto time
A close look at the sundial on King’s College Circle in Toronto.

I visited my alma mater, the University of Toronto, one rainy afternoon in late October. Across from Convocation Hall I stopped to take a closer look at the various meteorological and timekeeping instruments that have stood along King’s College Circle for at least a century. I had no specific recollection of ever doing so despite having wandered by hundreds of time on the way to Gerstein or some such place. Strange, though it was only a few short years ago, I can hardly recall the crushing burden of school anymore. Time is the simplest thing.

Toronto Skyline From Regent Park

The downtown core from Regent Park
The downtown core from the edge of Regent Park.

I seldom post many photos from Canada so you’d be forgiven for thinking I still reside in Taiwan 台灣! But, in fact, I have been living not far Toronto for nearly three months now. In that time I haven’t been taking that many photos—not like in Asia, anyway—which has given me time to catch up. I was many months behind when I first arrived here and only this week did I manage to dispense with the very last of my photos from overseas.

Anyhow, now that I am on to processing some more recent work I thought I might skip ahead a bit and share something lovely from my hometown. I captured this simple skyline shot from a high rise on the edge of Regent Park on a pleasant mid-summer’s afternoon.

Earth Stone Factory

Venables back alley scene
A back alley scene just off Venables near Commercial Drive.

I encountered this scene while exploring the alleyways just off of Venables at the top of Commercial Drive in Vancouver back in the summer of 2010. At the time I had no idea what the signs said—but having learned a little Chinese in the intervening years I went and transcribed the characters. Turns out the sign reads dàdìshíchǎng 大地石廠, roughly “earth stone factory” if Google is to be trusted in these matters. I don’t recall seeing any stones around—just piles of metal shavings in the bins nearby. Well, whatever it may be, it was an interesting find in amidst a mostly residential stretch of the city.

Clear Water

Water rushing down Cleveland Dam
Water rushing down the Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver.

I captured this photograph from the top of the spillway at Cleveland Dam in Capilano Canyon, Vancouver. Unlike many dams, this one does not generate electricity—it exists only to store drinking water for the city. What you see here is pure, clean water that has come down from the unpopulated mountains north of the city.

To the Falls and Back Again

I worked through Harvest instead of reveling in the end of festival season. As a kind of consolation prize, after working for nearly ten days straight, I set out to explore my own country the way I explored Taiwan 台灣: with a long, multi-day bike trip. I have family in Hamilton that I had been meaning to visit anyway—and Niagara Falls looked tantalizingly close but still challenging enough to make it a worthwhile ride. And that’s exactly where I ended up! It’s a tacky tourist town, more like Canada’s Tijuana than its Las Vegas, but the falls are truly spectacular and I felt a deep sense of accomplishment for having endured the boring ride there. Hopefully I’ll get around to blogging the trip in earnest—but for now I just wanted to jot down a placeholder to note to say I made it there and back!