Susan, Queen's Square | May 8, 2020
This week, I was supposed to be visiting Newfoundland for the first time. That trip has been postponed so instead of exploring the streets of St. John’s I decided to learn about some places of interest on my doorstep.
When I’m walking I like to imagine the families that used to live in the homes around us. Collections such as the Baldwin Collection at Toronto Public Library are available online and offer an insight into how the streets around us used to look.
The Landmarks column that ran in the Cambridge Times is another good place to start. Even if you live in a newer part of the city there are often older homes tucked away and each one has its own story. Up on the hill behind the Westgate Plaza there’s an old, stone farmhouse which at one time must have been quite remote but nowadays it’s surrounded by newer bungalows.
With many leisure activities currently closed, more and more people are taking a stroll around their neighbourhood. There’s all kinds of information online, such as the Old Galt Walking Tour where I discovered that the stone cottage on the northwest corner of the parking lot of our Queen’s Square location was once a railway station.
Elsewhere in the city, the Dominion Woollens and Worsteds Ltd. building, which until recently was occupied by Len’s Mill Store, was once the largest woollen mill in the British colonies. It employed many young women from Northern Ontario and Newfoundland who eventually settled in Hespeler and you’ll find some of their stories on the website or Facebook page of the Hespeler Heritage Centre.
While the Preston Springs Hotel has fallen into disrepair, it once attracted guests from all over Canada and the United States who came to relax in its glamorous surroundings and heal themselves in its mineral baths. The brochure from about 1920 advertises a single room for just $8.00 per night!
It’s fun to learn a bit about our past and get to know the people that lived in Cambridge in years gone by. We’re often so eager to travel somewhere new that we forget that there’s so much to discover right here at home.