’19 A To Z Challenge – J

330px-Queen_Victoria_by_Bassano

My little home town was dying, as I was born.

The word that I want to discuss, is

Jubilee

the celebration of any of certain anniversaries, as the twenty-fifth (silver jubilee), fiftieth (golden jubilee), or sixtieth or seventy-fifth (diamond jubilee).

the completion of 50 years of existence, activity, or the like, or its celebration:

Lighthouse

IN THE BEGINNING,
among other things, my home-town was a Great Lake port. A dock was built, almost a mile out into Lake Huron, to an island, to provide calm moorage. Small, sail-powered lake freighters brought wheat from the prairies, iron ore and timber from Northern Ontario. Before the existence of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, these goods were shipped by train to the Toronto area, below Niagara Falls.

The availability of cheap lumber encouraged the establishment of three furniture factories, and later, a plywood plant. There was money to be made – money to be had, and local tax revenues allowed the town to pay for many civic projects. Even today, it is the smallest town in Ontario, with a hospital.

In 1897, Queen Victoria celebrated her 60th anniversary as ruler of the Empire – her Diamond Jubilee. The town had recently foreclosed and seized the property of a sulkie racetrack, half a block wide, and two blocks long, just above the downtown area. Some namby-pamby toph who had not done market research, found that he couldn’t get enough paying customers from dock-wallopers, train crews, and factory workers. They might have watched horses that actually ran, but not swishy ones that only trotted, and dragged a cute little cart behind them.

The town filled in the track and manicured a baseball diamond and outfield. They put up a safety screen behind home plate and built a set of wooden stands. The 8-foot whitewashed wooden fence and ticket gates from the racetrack remained. To honor Victoria, and her achievement, they named it

Jubilee Park.

Then, times and technology changed. Lake freighters became larger, built of steel, and motor-powered. They could steam all the way to the mouth of the Niagara River, and the now-common trucks could move freight faster and cheaper. It is well for the town that, as its freight industry died, the tourist industry burgeoned. There are more summer cottages, paying year-round taxes, than there are residents’ homes. Still, the bloom was off the rose.

By the time I was born in 1944, the plank seats of the bleachers had become wowed, dried and splitting. As a child, for years, I wondered about the purpose of a decrepit, cabin-like construction beneath one end of the bleachers. When I finally thought to ask, I was told that it was a long-extinct concession booth.

Later, smaller, steel-framed stands were built down the first- and third-base lines. Perhaps being too lazy to walk any distance, many men parked right behind these stands. Many a pop foul sailed over the bleachers, to dent fenders and break mirrors and windshields. The attraction of small-town softball is long gone. The town has built a children’s playground in what used to be the parking area. I have not been back in years, but it would not surprise me to find that USB ports have been added, to recharge kids’ electronic devices.

Time relentlessly marches on, but us old-timers can only shuffle along, muttering, Remember when?”

Magical Mystery Tour

Photo Hi-lights of Historical Sites around Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Pioneer Memorial Tower

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In 1925, the city council decided to commemorate the establishment of the first farms in the region.  The piles of stone which had been laboriously removed from the rich river flood plain below this lookout point, were used to construct the tower.

 

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 In Kitchener’s Victoria Park

Small industrial buildings in what had become the downtown area, burned, or were torn down.  Council used the land to create a public park, and in 1895 dedicated it to Queen Victoria and erected this display.

Queen Victoria’s Statue001

 Clock Tower from Our Original City Hall

DSCF2950   When the city hall was torn down, this clock tower was dismantled and saved.  Twenty years later, the clock was cleaned and rebuilt, and it and the rest of the tower were erected at the main park entrance.

 Kaiser Wilhelm’s Plinth

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Funny thing about the Kaiser……In 1916, Berlin residents were so incensed that he caused World War I that they took the bust of dear old Wilhelm & threw him in Victoria Lake…….he was rescued and reinstalled…..he got thrown in the lake again.  Somebody pulled him out, but he was never seen in public again.  Perhaps he became shell casings in the war effort.

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 Note:  Before this event Berlin‘s name had been changed in 1912 to Kitchener, after a British, Boer War officer named Lord Kitchener, who was lost off the coast of Ireland, when his destroyer struck a mine on the way to negotiations in Russia, in 1916.  A tiny lumber/railroad town in the depths of British Columbia had already named themselves after Kitchener in 1896/7, and still claim that they are the real Kitchener, and my Ontario version unjustly appropriated the name.   Germany and the Kaiser’s aggressive actions in Europe caused the “German” people of Berlin, Ontario to show that they were not allied in any way.

 

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Never common in Upper Canada, this is the last surviving covered bridge in Ontario

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Historical Field Stone House

Like the pioneer tower, the stones to build this house beside the bridge were removed from the fields so that they could be plowed.

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Castle Silo

A rich city dweller who retired to the country built this castle around an old, stone, farm silo to produce a workshop for his hobbies.

Following the Path the Cow took

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At the intersection of the main streets, King and Queen, we’re still driving around an apple tree that stood here, two hundred years ago.

Hans HausHans Haus

Even after the change of name from Berlin to Kitchener, the city retains a strong German heritage.  In 1968 it was decided to host a Munich-style Oktoberfest, which is still celebrated each year.  This building was erected beside a downtown hotel to house administrative offices and storage.