Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Carlington Vet Houses celebration
click to enlarge and see the lady on the verandah
Carlington community association held a celebration last Sunday to honour the war vets, the veterans housing estates built just south of Westgate Shopping Centre (the first suburban shopping centre in Ottawa), and the renewal of the community.
There was a parade and march past of some veterans. The parade was lead by an Ottawa police motorcycle driven by an Asian cop. The tail was another police car, driven by a Tamil (?) cop. Some of the parade-route residents were Asian. The old vets were all white. It made a nice scenario.
I loved seeing the pictured elderly lady on the verandah of her house, watching the parade. She seemed excited by it, often waving. I imagined her a vet widow living for sixty years in the postwar housing, one of the dwindling cadre of second world war vet families. Imagination.
The area of small homes, once neglected and somewhat run down, is once again thriving with new families and some sensitive and expensive renovations leading the way. Some of the renovations do not include additions, proving once again that modest size housing is desirable. The new municipal splash pad and gazebo on Harold Place were especially unexpected.
After the parade ended at the Gowling school, there were the usual speeches. CMHC gave a presentation on renovating vet housing, and on the NowHouse, a postwar one-and-a-half storey house renovated to be zero-energy. Vets and ex-residents had front row seats. Each seat had some "thank you" cards or letters written by grade 1 students of the school. An elderly lady leafed through the collection of notes, covering the range of simple cut and paste artwork to thoughtful letters of thanks to the vets, while her uniformed husband stood with the other vets. As she leafed through the pile, she noted the "odd" names of the children (few Bills, more Bilals, you get the idea). One letter was longer the rest, more original, and she fondled it. She leafed through the rest of the pile, and the long letter came up to the top of the pile again. Again she read it, touched it, then carried on reading, until it came to the top of the pile again. I don't think she realized it was the same letter she kept coming back to. Eventually she took it, folded it in half, and slipped it into her purse. With that, my mom said it was time to go home.