Saturday, June 13, 2020

Exploring Peterborough and finding that sometimes you can't go home

We spent the day in Peterborough, catching up on our blogs, resupplying, and exploring the place where we used to live and go to school.  However, the years have changed this beautiful town and of course they have changed us.

                                                                                                 Sonya and Sean 1997

                                                                                                 Sonya and Sean 2020

As side from the weight that Sean carries related to this community, any venture around seemed as though we were trying to find old friends, places where we used to hang out, and locate a means to connect.  But, it seems that sometimes you just can't go home again and old memories are best kept in the light you remember them in rather than trying to recapture the moment. 

Peterborough is a town of more than 80,000 people which is located on the Otonabee River, and is land that was traditional territory of the Anishinabek (ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᒃ) and Huron-Wendat People. Peterborough is known as the gateway to the Kawarthas "cottage country" which is a large recreational area in the province.

In the past, Peterborough was nicknamed the "Electric City", because it was the first town in Canada to use electric streetlights. Manufacturing and technology were also historically important in Peterborogh. Today one of the only remaining factories is Quaker Oats, which today gave the town a strong smell of maple brown sugar oatmeal. We were hungry all day.


Peterborough is also the home of the world's largest Lift Lock, which opened in 1904. It is the world's highest hydraulic lift lock with a rise of 20 m (65 ft). Several landmarks throughout town memorialize Richard Rogers, conceptual father of the Lift Lock.

The town itself features art galleries, theaters, a zoo, the Canadian Canoe Museum, and beautiful greenspaces and parks along the waterway. It also has a vibrant downtown that is brought to life by students from Trent University and Sir Sandford Fleming College. There are lots of small shops, bars, restaurants, and bistros along the main downtown streets.

Although it was interesting to see the town, it was with mixed feelings that we saw just how much it has changed. Many of the student coffee shops, and diners have been replaced by slick restaurants, bistros, and cafes. There are glass fronted condos where some of the old Victorian brick buildings used to be.  In other areas, where old shops once existed beautiful town murals have been painted.


Places where, as students we used to venture are long gone.  Some are boarded up while others have been turned into mainstream and high end gastropubs.  While so much is similar, little is the same and we feel more like strangers than familiar residents.  The times they are a changin'.

Indeed, evidence existed at every turn that Peterborough was now within the sphere of the Greater Toronto Area and no longer the 'distant community' that we once basked in. Given all the modernization and up-scaling that has taken place in our absence, perhaps the highlight of the day for us was spending time on the waterfront enjoying the shade and a local tea.  Here we were both excited to see that much of the alternative, artistic, and inclusive culture that drew both of us to Trent and Peterborough ago, was still active in the region.  

True to form, Sean soon took to the back alleys and typically less trodden spaces to photograph and explore the artistic side of the community, and so he spent several hours enjoying what he terms 'those silent places of expression that most people either walk by or ignore'.


As we hike across the country we are continually reminded of how many people have walked sections of the Great Trail (or Trans Canada Trail) without realizing it. When we lived in Peterborough our apartment on Hunter St. was actually on the Trans Canada Trail and we had no idea. It was funny to see the trail marker literally across the street from our frontdoor, and realize this was actually where our adventure together began.

Although we didn't explore much of it today, the area around Peterborough offers many opportunities to learn about the First Nations history of the area. At Petroglyphs Provincial Park you can see art carved into the rocks by the Algonquins. Descendants of the Hiawatha First Nation on Rice Lake, and the Curve Lake First Nation on Chemong and Buckhorn Lakes invite visitors to share their culture and traditions, and each year a Pow Wow is held in the region. It is a wonderful area to explore the rich First Nations history.


1 comment:

  1. Yes, the world keeps changing and evolving. So do we. Though I really love the bird pictures and the sceneries, I thought today's pictures were great captures too.


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