Oakville Memories: Old & New
Remembering Bronte (1960s)
Lakeside Marketeria. Courtesy of Trafalgar Township Historical Society
Lakeside Marketeria. Courtesy of Trafalgar Township Historical Society Details

I was speaking to a friend the other day, and she mentioned the changes in Bronte. She said that she was walking through the area the other day and knew it had changed. A lot. Yet she couldn’t remember how things were before.

I don’t remember when the white clapboard houses were used as cottages for city people in the summer, though I do remember when they were the main part of Bronte, not the new highrises and condominiums.

I also don’t remember when my mother, with baby in stroller, had to walk to the Lakeside Marketeria to do her shopping. There was nowhere else on that side of town then. I do remember trips to that store with my parents, and visiting with Bill Hill, the owner, whom my brothers and I called the nice man. Then, as now, the store was crowded, the goods piled high to the ceiling and the aisle layout a bit confusing to non-regulars. But that made the trips there exciting, like exploring an unknown region.

I remember Bronte pier as a quiet place for a walk, the gulls gently crying and circling the Canada geese not intrusive. Suddenly two or three years ago, there were crowds there in the summer. The boardwalk was built, and on summer evenings a man played music on the sidewalk. I quite like the new tourist atmosphere, but the first time I saw a crowd, a crowd in Bronte, it came as a bit of a shock.

There was the year of the violent storms in April when waves were washing over the pier and eroding the lands around it made dramatic front page news locally. And the violent ice storm a few years ago when the pier itself became a single long sheet of ice and all the bushes and benches nearby were coated, crystalline and pure, like something from a fairy tale.

Bronte Pier. Courtesy of the Town of Oakville
Bronte Pier. Courtesy of the Town of Oakville Details
Courtesy of Trafalgar Township Historical Society
Courtesy of Trafalgar Township Historical Society Details

When I was young, a friend lived on Jones Street. Sometimes we were sent on an errand to the little variety store at the corner of Jones and Lakeshore. It is still there, remarkably, and so is the little barber shop next to it. Even then, it seemed an anachronism, out of place in a flower power world. But all around these two holdbacks, the modern world has intruded.

On our treks to the corner we had to walk past the Magnet Inn. There was something, I’m not quite sure what, that was scary about the place. It was on its last legs then, a sort of ramshackle, mysterious place of faded green siding and second floor windows without curtains. Only on a dare would we walk on the Magnet Inn side of the road, preferring the safety of the other sidewalk. And never, ever, did we go past it at night. Or at dusk. Or late in the afternoon.

Some of the buildings are still there, even some of the same stores, but they are getting more and more blocked out by the new businesses, and you have to look hard to find them, or to find any trace of older Bronte. It’s worth the effort because soon all we may have left are memories.

Judy Wedeles
Tues Dec 27 1988, Oakville Today

Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit