A Lovely Little World

Adventures in Southern Ontario

Tag: explore

Why I Love Cities

Some people only want to live in cities. I have always known that I am a small town person. The countryside is beautiful, but the few years we had to ration water, and the amount of grass that needs to be cut, confirmed for me it wasn’t for me. At the same time, I’m not a city dweller, and don’t really plan to be, but I love cities. Every time I say that, someone inevitably points out the busy-ness and the smog and whatever else that is typically wrong with city life, and yes, I get it, that’s why I love my town but…

My reasons for loving cities are pretty valid, especially with my – coffee-centric, explore your neighbourhood and photograph it, love history, and indie art and music – type of personality. I will share my favourite city places in a later post, for now here are my arguments for why cities are great.

  1. There are coffee places everywhere. I’m not a connoisseur, I don’t ever think “wow, this place has the best coffee”, I just want a hit of caffeine and I don’t want it to taste like swamp water. That being said, it’s nice to have a variety of different places to visit, within walking distance, with their own charm. Small towns may have a coffee place or two, but they are probably in the same neighbourhood, and one of them might be a chain; it doesn’t feel as much like exploring and then relaxing, if you sit with your book. Also, you feel silly in a small town, and less anonymous, just sitting there working, alone.

Durand Coffee, in the Durand Neighbourhood. My favourite part is the mural

     2. Cities have super weird buildings. So do towns. But it’s fun to come upon them unexpectedly when you’re wandering around a place you don’t know very well.

These two aren’t super weird examples, but I’m quite certain you understand my meaning. There are unexpected things everywhere in cities.

      3. There’s a mix of old and new. This particular neighbour is a bizarre assortment of condos, apartments, and beautiful old brick homes. Did you ever see that kids’ movie, Monster House? This whole neighbourhood reminds me of that.

4. Now, towns definitely have this going for it… cities are full of the quirkiness factor, or the daydream factor, whichever you prefer. Those little touches of humanity that make you smile… a funny coloured wall, chairs on a deck where people have been sitting enjoying the sun, stained glass windows in an run down building. Those are my favourite things of all.

There are so many things to love about a place, but obviously, there’s no place like home.

 

 

Grimsby Beach

It was really difficult selecting the photographs for this post, because Grimsby Beach is just so cute. 

Grimsby Beach is a neighbourhood right on Lake Ontario, not far from Winona. The cottages are candy coloured and still have all their ornate trimmings, the kind that make a place look like a gingerbread or doll house. It’s sort of sweetness overload, as if Sanrio invented a real life town for Hello Kitty to live in. I loved it. There are a few cottages that stand alone, but when you find the original cul-de-sac, you know you’ve arrived.

And when I say original, I mean historic.

(Historical photographs, courtesy of Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives). 

Grimsby Beach was originally established as a Methodist campground in the late 1840s. It was a dense forest and liquor was strictly forbidden on the property. By 1888, a temple was built and there were about 70 cottages with fancy gingerbread trim, where people could stay during the camp meetings. There were concerts, lectures, athletic competitions and a beach. After 1908, the location was a picnic area and amusement park. In 1922, the temple was torn down, but many of the cottages still remain and are recognizable in the old photographs of the area. Hamilton Library’s Local History & Archives has an actual archive of that area, (I haven’t gone through it). It’s easy to forget how many interesting places there are in Ontario, and if you ever need to explore a new place, it’s worth it.

 

Exploring a new, old city

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There are perks to working in the city, especially a cool city, like Hamilton. Everyday there is something new to see, and so many interesting faces. I haven’t done a lot of street photography lately, but I really should. Hamilton is such a diverse place and “characters” are everywhere (and sometimes they are the people with whom you’re photo walking!) Most of these photographs were taken during the 500px Global Photo Walk. We got a lot of rain that day, but the sun came out for the last hour, just not while we were along the waterfront.  The down side to so many adventures (and a new full time job working with photos!) is that I never get time to blog anymore.  This post is only happening because I slept in too late to make a workshop I signed up for, so I had a few spare minutes. Hamilton is such a fascinating city. The more time I spend, the more I love the old buildings. I’ll have to schedule a post just on my favourites, although it’s not always easy finding out information about them, without hitting up the land registry office (and I work in the Archives).
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I’m currently obsessed with the Jackson Square Roof, actually, I always have been. Lunch times up there are so peaceful, and the light changes every day, so the window reflections in the nearby skyscrapers shift constantly. You meet different people than you normally would, and you take photos of them, even though it’s sort of out of character for you to even ask someone. So you have to let them take your photo in exchange.  Plus photographs taken from that vantage point (roof tops) make the world look like tiny dioramas. It’s weird, because you feel more like you are observing than participating.

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mulberry-street-cafe mulberry nathan-on-top-of-the-world nightime-city orange-fence

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Isn’t this little alley way perfection? I love the colours and butterflies.14567575_10157501520590557_6626905078291348970_o paint people pretty-building rainbow roof skyline street-photography-fav unahppy-couple where-i-fell-in-love-with-you window york-blvdReally this post is just to share what I see each day, a rather beautiful world. It’s easy to believe the worst in people, and just see the garbage and smog, but try to look with a different lens this week. Explore a new or old place, simply because you can.

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A photo of me on a rooftop, by my good friend, James Allen Shepherd.

Travel in your neighbourhood.

Somedays I want to travel so badly, I almost can’t stand staying in one place. A lot of times, I just want to say home and forget a world exists outside of the rabbits jumping around in the backyard. Fortunately, there are enough places in Southern Ontario to explore that most days I can be satisfied with the balance. I always think it’s strange that so often we fly to faraway places to see new things, when so often there are really interesting things in our own neighbourhoods we haven’t yet explored. I’m obsessed with abandoned places currently, so if you know of any good ones in the Haldimand/Hamilton/Niagara area, please let me know. It isn’t the same as returning to NYC with it’s other worldly rhythm, or even camping by a lake. I haven’t felt what it’s like to experience an entirely foreign culture, and landscape, which is definitely a priority in the future, but I do enjoy what’s around me, and that helps fills that wanderlust that colours my night-time dreams.

I use to hate visiting Niagara Falls, until I took a thirteen year old girl there, who had never seen it. We did all the touristy things on Clifton Hill and rode the Maid of the Mist. Ever since then, I’ve enjoyed going. Being a tourist in your own area is a lot more fun that sounds, if you can get over the embarrassed and cheesy feeling of doing touristy things.

This is a little place we found about twenty minutes from home.

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You can see other blog posts on abandoned places I visit here and I’ve started a 500px account exclusively for my travels. There isn’t a lot posted yet, but there will be.

Even if you travel the world every few weeks, don’t forget to look around at what is right beside you. You could visit a busy city or a quiet countryside and not see anything that speaks to your heart, but in my home county, I find so many beautiful things. I guess it depends what you’re looking for really; I’m just suggesting you don’t forget to travel to your hometown and be a tourist there for a while.

 

 

Abandoned House Outside of Dunnville

Nature doesn’t need us, but we need it, so we should take better care of it – abandoned homes always make that evident. I remember reading that somewhere. I think I mentioned it in another blog post. Every time we go exploring, I see that evidence that nature finds a way. The dirt and dust seeps in across the floor. The wood warps. The metal rusts. Eventually the grasses and trees wiggle their way through roof tops and vines crawl up the bricks or stones. It makes abandoned places beautiful, although somehow still sad. nature wins house nature wins mailbox

A few weeks ago now, Sarah and I set off to find a different abandoned house, in fact, a few different abandoned houses. They were torn down and new places re-built in their stead. We had almost given up when we came across this place, and it’s one of my favourites so far.

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We couldn’t actually go into the house since the floor was caving in, but I took so many photos of the vines coming in through the roof. On the front of the house, you could see rays of sunshine just above the eaves. I couldn’t capture it though. Someone how pulled old magazines out of the drawers and left them on a counter. You could tell that they hadn’t been there long because the elements hadn’t gotten to them yet. Someone lived in there once. They slept here and came home from work here. It’s just so weird to imagine.

The path behind the house was covered in wildflowers, and the barn was even more overgrown.

adventurer dandelions nature wins frame nature wins silo nature wins window inside path in the wild wild flowers 02 wild flowersThere was wild phlox everywhere! We went right after noon, so the shadows are harsh, but I think you can still get a sense of the beauty of the place. Definitely a good place to find ticks, but I didn’t go home with any hitchhikers this time. On the way, when we got turned around, we did find some sheep though.

sheep crossing

Abandoned Mini Putt Course