On the Beat

Checking out the new neighbours

I’ve found my new neighbourhood and it didn’t take long either.

The fiancée and I picked up a condo in the heart of Toronto’s midtown.

So, what better opportunity to get acquainted with the nook than to explore both North Toronto and Lawrence Park.

Removed northward from the neon brilliance that inhabits the Yonge and Eglinton intersection is Blythwood Rd.

The Eagles tell me to “Take it easy,” as I swerve off Yonge and enter another time, quite possibly before both World Wars.

Arts and crafts homes are abundant. They’re smattered with stone, brick, stucco and stylish wooden gables.

Fanning the homes are aged pines, ashes and chestnut trees. Further along the road, small little homes remind me of my hometown of Whitby.

To my left a Baptist church nestles itself deep into a parcel of land, and General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robots as seen on “Lost in Space”, dot the boulevards while waiting for garbage day.

No wait … those are the gaudy looking blue bins for recycling.

Next to the church is a spectacular red brick home with teal eaves and shutters. Beside that a quaint little English manor screams Victorian era.

On my right, one home has a barn-like garage revealing itself from the backyard.

Eddie Vedder sings to me about being alive. Speaking of life, one home is thick with vegetation. Looks like the gardener has been on hiatus for at least a decade.

Only the house’s umber-hued clay roof is visible behind the trees, shrubs and weeds that have enveloped all available landscape.

The great thing about these walks is that even if I don’t pick an iconic landmark to hang these beats on, I still come across one. At 157 Blythwood there’s a plaque nestled up the driveway, but since I’ve been suspiciously eyed by folks in the neighbourhood, I kindly refrain from venturing any further than the sidewalk.

Turns out the home was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act in 2003. According to Heritage Toronto it was built prior to 1889 and had more real estate before other homes arrived in the 1920s.

I keep on truckin’ down the lane. White petunias dot one yard’s garden, while ivy crawls for the walkway, the wrought iron fence being no barrier.

The one thing that fascinates me about midtown is the fact no two homes are alike. When urban sprawl hit Ontario in the 1950s, suburbia threw up homes much like Linda Blair did pea soup.

But I forget about my demonizing of residential construction, when I turn onto Mount Pleasant Rd. only to be greeted by salmon-coloured poppies.

As Eric Clapton charms Sally, waiting all night long just to talk with her, the last slivers of light close on the day.

I turn right onto Stibbard Ave. with a robin singing to bridge Clapton to Metallica — an interesting transition.

Stibbard, much like my musical taste, is a mixed bag of homes. Swiss-style alpine homes mingle with the same arts and crafts styles as on Blythwood.

One home sports a green beard of ivy and a large hunk of lawn. Further down, a tree with a bright orange dot (possibly marked for removal) looks like a trio of tuning forks.

Speaking of forks, Stibbard bends away from Blythwood Cres. Close to the split, a Fiat 500L sits by the curb. It looks like a vehicle fit for circus clowns, lots and lots of clowns.

Thankfully another fork comes along and averts my mind from clowns. Now I find myself curving along on Sheldrake.

There’s plenty of activity along the street. People are out walking: by themselves, with canine companions, or in one case, a mother walks her two sons home from school.

“Once in a lifetime” by the Talking Heads hits my eardrums, as I ease back out onto Mount Pleasant.

I’m going to like my neighbourhood, but admittedly nothing is ever the same as it ever was, as David Byrne says.

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