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Friday, October 03, 2008

A Wonderful Trip to the Back Yard

Last week the Greater Toronto Area (which includes Oakville at the extreme west) had an Open Door celebration where various historic buildings allowed people in for free tours.
I'd been busy in the morning and --after nearly deciding not to go--I decided that well, I'd take in a few of the Oakville attractions.
I began at the home of Oakville's first mayor; it's now Canadian Sound Systems. No, they don't work in film. They design home sound systems. And the inside of the house wasn't open at all, negating the promise of the Open Door. O well. I looked at the map and was pleased to see that the next nearest tour location wasn't a house at all. It was a boat called the ANITRA, quite naturally docked in the harbour nearby. So I walked down to it and sat in the back with a group of good natured people, listening to the story of the ship. She was built in the Twenties for the wonderfully named Montye Macrae, who had already built two other ships called ADANAC (Canada spelled backwards.) Someone suggested that he name the new ship ANITRA after the Egyptian dancing girl character in PEER GYNT, since "she had lines like an Egyptian dancer and was very exotic." So he did.
The ship has been in the Macrae family ever since. She has won racing prizes and also was clearly designed as a party boat--a trip below decks showed brilliantly designed spaces (there are eight berths down there, a kitchen, a head, a closet, and an icebox, all neatly framed in teak.)
I walked over to a small dock to see the ANITRA from the water. Some of the ladies who had been on the ANITRA with me were getting into a small launch. "Do you want to go over to the club?" the man at the helm asked, indicating the Oakville Club across the way. I assumed that it was also open for the Open House Day. I said I did not want to be any trouble, but he replied that it would be a very long walk for me up to the bridge and over, so I might just come along with them. So I got into the little motor launch.
The man, whose name was Larry, asked us if we were in a hurry to get over. "Does anyone want to take a trip up the creek?" he asked."There are hawks and herons there in the water."
No one objected, and so up the creek we went.
What a change. My apartment building, which was about 100 feet from the creek, was invisible. A few townhouses associated with the building across the street were barely visible. A whole new world opened up on that creek: reeds, weeping willows, pristine water (they caught a 5 pound pike there the other day, Larry told us) and best of all, wonderful little private patios and ladders from the big houses on the other side of the creek. Yachts were also parked along the eastern side.
The western side did not reveal herons, but the family of hawks was out hunting. "The water is two feet lower than usual," Larry said. "The Quebecers take it."
He took the launch up the creek for what seemed like a mile, then headed back, saying he'd better go since he'd be missed. He is the Dockmaster for the Oakville club.

Well, what can I say about the club itself? We had the tour, and I am determined to join. It won't be immediately since my finances at this stage are not yet recovered from the move, but it will be this year. They have a gym, a restaurant, social events, and best of all a feeling of community. I certainly could use a bit of that right now.

Larry was generous enough to arrange for me to go out on a boat with one of the club members; it turns out that the gentleman is a relative of the man who owns the ANITRA. So tomorrow I am going to go out on Lake Ontario with some very kind people who will--so I'm told--put me to work doing something on the boat.

And there is a Nuit Blanche in Toronto that same evening, with hundreds of artists showing projects for free all over downtown. I also get together with a new friend on Sunday. It should be a fun weekend.

So I'll stop writing now and come back when I have something to say about these events.
Happy weekend, all.

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