On the Beat

Yonge at heart

Have you ever had to retrace your steps?

Not out of forgetfulness but because the TTC was bunged up more than a Wisconsin dairy farmer after a cheese festival.

Though I have no digestive tract issues, I had the unfortunate luck of having to walk from Eglinton station one hot September rush hour.

It’s part three of my Yonge St. voyage, and in order to get to my starting point, Lawrence station, I had to either take a shuttle bus, feeling much like livestock off to the abattoir, or hoof it on the ole Adidas express.

Much like the rest of the folks who departed Eglinton, I meandered through the urban sea, finally reaching Lawrence station on the pointed note of Triumph’s “Fight the Good Fight”.

Behind me was a waterfall of heads cascading down the longest street in the world.

My goal from Lawrence was to reach the northernmost border of midtown: the 401.

And let me tell you something, I felt like Ash from the movie Army of Darkness, being dragged to my death. However, I had two things going for me: I wasn’t translating a book of the dead called Necronomiconexmortis, nor was I in barren wilderness.

Around me was a mixed bag of art deco, Edwardian and Arts and Crafts buildings. Mothers with a phalanx of strollers chatted about their days while seniors shuffled along with their walkers, exploring the Bedford Park area.

This is my first time seeing Yonge chock-a-block with more licence plates than an ex-con has seen.

The Clash hums to me about staying or going, but I press on, finally discovering where the Dave Snider Music Centre is. Empty patios from taverns crash the sidewalk like waves on a beach, and a large green Warhammer fellow intimidates pedestrians from behind the window at the Games Workshop.

Sheryl Crow muses to me about every day being a winding road, but Yonge is pretty straight. Metaphorically speaking though she’s quite accurate. I pass far too many “For Lease” signs along the stretch.

Playing over my music is a chap on the keyboards at Sorrento restaurant. His voice reminds me of singer Mark Knopfler. Further up the street, I’m greeted by a friendly Westie, waiting for its owner to vacate a sushi bar with morsels in a doggie bag.

With Stevie Wonder now singing “Superstition”, I pass painters on ladders as they freshen up another empty storefront.

Leaving the two-storey businesses in my wake, I plunge into the geographical divot called Hoggs Hollow.

It’s cooler here. The street hunkers into a tree-shrouded nook, and greenery takes over.

Tennis courts spring up past an older subdivision on the east side while modern condos line up on the west.

I’ve been here before but in the winter. A familiar facade enters my scope as the Miller Tavern sits close to the street.

From there, like the Dixie Chicks voice, the land becomes “Wide Open Spaces”.

Buildings recede from the boulevards and cars become the only landscape as I near York Mills.

Beneath me the sidewalk is riddled with small footprints, cast before the concrete had a chance to harden. They’re akin to dinosaur tracks in Albertan sandstone.

As I cross York Mills the grill of an angry Mercedes inches forward towards me. A young man with his buddy scowl at me as I legally make me away across the mammoth intersection.

Oasis chime in once again about roads winding in their tune “Wonderwall”. I’m wondering if my MP3 player is telling me something, but I don’t fall into waxing philosophical as I walk past CW Jeffreys’ home wedged between two corporate office sentries.

I’m on my last legs. There’s fire eating my shins and calves. But the 401 is in sight. Behind the chain link fence, sumac and what looks like currants – but probably not – try to join in on the auto-conga line ready to vacate Toronto for the evening.

I’m forced to cross the street to pass under the 401. And Dire Straits sends me back to Yonge and Lawrence as Knopfler sings “Walk of Life”.

When I emerge from under tons of concrete infrastructure, I discover a whole new world: North York.

The long walk is over, and as Boston rocks on, I am indeed “Feelin’ Satisfied”.

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