Monday, March 17, 2008

Some local notes, Brockton Village

A little bit of local history.

This nondescript building is a plumbing store. It is in the process of closing, the owner is retiring and selling off everything. He used to run it with his son Sam, but Sam died last summer of cancer, leaving a wife and small children. Everyone in the neighbourhood sooner or later went to that plumbing store, because just about everybody is renovating. Everyone lived in fear of Sam's Dad, who was sarcastic and critical of amateur plumbers, which all of us are. So most of us tried to go when Sam was around not his Dad. Soon we'll be on our own, no more plumbing store.

Gretel used to take photos on her digital camera of whatever plumbing disaster she was working on to the store to show to Sam or his Dad to get their opinion of what she should do or buy. Women fare a little better there because we're kind of used to men being snooty about such things, but a lot of men find it hard to deal with.

The other thing about this building is that it is the original Town Hall and Jail of Brockton Village, before it amalgamated with the City of Toronto. See the bars on the ground floor windows? Think Jailhouse.

This house is just down the road from the plumbing store. Also nothing extraordinary to look at, except that it is one of the oldest houses in the area. Originally a farmhouse that stood on the edge of the village of Brockton.

These semi-detached houses we call The House That Can't Decide. Because of the colour combination, and also in the summer the red house has vines all over the front porch and the green house porch is bare. Like they are opposites, whatever one decides to do the other does the opposite.

The grey house next door is the farm house I was talking about.

See the picture panel just to the right of the doorway on the red house? This is a painted tile picture of a saint or holy person, or possibly the Virgin Mary. All the Portuguese in the area have these painted tile panels by their doors, they have them shipped over from Portugal.

Isaac and Gretel say that in Portugal you see them everywhere. Portugal was one of the last outposts of the Moors in Europe, even after they had been driven out of Spain they remained in Portugal for some time after. So the art and architecture is heavily influenced by the Moors, and among other things they are into painted tiles, so you see a lot of that in Portuguese homes.

This mural is painted by a Brazilian man. There are at least three of his murals around the area, this is maybe one of the most striking. A lot of the Portuguese here come from the Azores or from Brazil. I think this mural really captures a Brazilian flare.

And that's the local history lesson for today.

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