Monday, October 01, 2007

A Memory Triggered

We took a drive down to the Kingston area on Sunday to begin to scout out possible wedding venues for the girls next year and found a good candidate (below) on Wolfe Island.

But we have the better part of a year before the wedding becomes a story, so permit me to proceed to more banal thoughts: at which I excel.

As we drove around town I recalled our little family holiday almost fifty years ago. It was probably less that a week long, more like four or possibly five days. From Montreal, we visited Eastern Ontario, specifically Kingston, Brockville and Cornwall. I imagine it was a bit of a nostalgic stroll down memory lane for my parents who had lived near Kingston for a few years. You see, for a short time, Dad had been a minister in a nearby town and mom had given birth to me in the Kingston General Hospital. My maternal grandmother's clan also hailed from around Cornwall, and mom had spent a lot of time in that area as a girl.

The highlights of the trip were probably supposed to be visiting tourist attractions such as Old Fort Henry in Kingston and the Robert Moses Dam and cruising the Thousand Islands. But I also remember the hotels at which we stayed. I remember the Revere Hotel in Brockville (pretty darn sure that was the name) and one in Cornwall whose name I forget, but it was probably my favourite because it had a very special elevator.

Until then, I had only ridden in elevators that were operated by white-gloved, uniformed women in department stores like Eatons in Montreal. But this elevator I could drive all by myself. And drive it I did. What a kick! I would seize any opportunity to get on the contraption and push the buttons that would take me downstairs to the lobby and back up. I probably drove everybody crazy! You can tell that I was a deprived child.

Yesterday, as we drove around Kingston, memories of the little hotel there suddenly popped into my head. "Of course, it's long gone AC; it wasn't a very grand place way back then after all." Then, about thirty seconds later, didn't we drive by Hotel Belvedere. By golly, that was it! The very same hotel. (Photo from their website, from the side and looking better than it did straight-on from the front.)

I wouldn't have recognized it by sight, I don't think because fifty years ago, I believe we got there in the evening and left early the next morning. But once I saw the name, I knew it: Hotel Belvedere. Partly, I think I remember the name because I kept souvenirs from this trip for a few years: matchbooks and those typical hotel soap bars to be exact: items with the hotel's name in other words. Strange souvenirs, I know, but we didn't get out much, and I'm sure there would have been precious little money for normal souvenirs.

Oh my! Writing that brings to mind that there were, indeed, other souvenirs. I remember now. I also collected pennants from that trip. I'm pretty sure there was one from Old Fort Henry and probably from the rather new St Lawrence Seaway and probably one from the Thousand Islands. I now remember that they hung on my wall for several years.

So, that's the long version. The short version is that yesterday, I drove by a hotel in Kingston that I stayed at for one night about fifty years ago.


mreddie said...

Ah - how those memories sneak back in, even ones long thought forgotten. Over the years I have gone back to places I lived when I was young and they all seemed to have shrunk a lot - they were probably left out in the rain. ec

Heather said...

Hey - did I miss the announcement that the girls are getting married?! How very exciting! Congrats! I'm so glad they CAN!

ChrisB said...

I love trips down memory lane and the long versions are best!

Gina said...

Such a beautiful place.

And yes, you must have been quite deprived! ;)

Ginnie said...

I love it when those old memories seem to pop up in our minds. Also, I agree with your comment on my last blog...I, too, hate the idea of giving up on blogging but sometimes I feel I've said it all and I'm just filling up space.

Pam said...

I liked the long version best, very interesting. I have been to the Thousand Islands, a few times, and absolutely loved it. A beautiful and intriguing place to visit -- my stepmother is from that area.

I read your comment on Ginnie's blog re: blogging -- hope you never pack it in!

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Well this little tale tells a lot about you and your childhood. You were a PK (preacher's kid). That expains a lot! You seem to have turned out all right.

You collected match books and pennants. Me too! Actually, I had a large collection of match book covers. My mother wouldn't let me keep the matches. I might set more of my model airplanes on fire and throw them out my second story room. I also had a pennant from Old Fort Henry.

I had a lot of fun once taking to Toronto a young girl, who had never been out of our little town.

Besides her fascination with the "freaks" on Yonge Street. She was thrilled not only with elevators but rode constantly up and down on the escalator at the Eaton's Centre. And the Street Cars. . that is another story. What fun to see a child discover a new world.

PBS said...

That was a great trip back in time and a good story too!

Coll said...

There is something special in taking a walk down memory lane, especially when the memories are warm and good.

And what a lovely photo of the spot on Wolfe Island. So very peaceful.

cat59 said...

The Belvedere looks lovely in that photo. Also, the picture of the place on Wolfe Island makes me want to visit and poke around. I must have missed something--you have girls (plural) who are getting married next year?