By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator
This summer, I learned that I would be saying goodbye to my childhood home. I’m sure most of you have experienced this at some point. While I am excited for my parents to be starting a new chapter in their lives, this means the end of one for my sister, brother, and me. Thankfully, I’ve had more time to process the announcement because I was the one who showed them their new house. In an unexpected turn of events, my parents are moving into the home of family friends on my husband’s side of the family, which is five minutes away from my in-laws! The world works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it?
My family moved to Oshawa in 1986 from Port Credit, Ontario – now a suburb of Mississauga. We upgraded from a townhouse to a semi-detached. I remember my first thought upon seeing the house was, “Wow! It has two doors and two garages!” Our ‘new to us’ home was chosen in part because of its proximity to so many amenities, such as St. Michael’s Catholic School (pre-1987/1988 renovation), the Civic Auditorium, the Ministry of Transportation, and a Scotiabank. For a number of years, we didn’t have backyard neighbours as our home looked onto greenspace, a Ryder Truck rental, and Sheridan Nurseries.
Since then, the area has seen many changes. We watched the building of the plaza behind the Scotiabank and frequented the St. Hubert’s, the anchor store for a while. We attended City of Oshawa meetings when developers proposed the building of a bingo parlour directly behind us. This turned into the plaza that was originally home to Don Cherry’s Sports Bar and the Oshawa Funeral Home. My Dad and sister even met Mr. Cherry one day when he was out inspecting the new restaurant. This was much more exciting 25 years ago than it would be today! Nevertheless, to the other extent, some things don’t change. I’ve been going to the same dentist and same veterinary clinic for almost 35 years – both chosen, of course, because they were close by and within walking distance.
So how do you say goodbye to decade’s worth of trick or treating, birthday parties, proms, breakups, wedding photos, and baby visits? I’m still working through that. When we moved in, there was a maple tree in the centre of the yard and a cedar hedge surrounding it, which was very inconvenient for three kids playing back there. I remember looking down into the basement (which had drawings on the wall from the previous owner’s kids – something my parents never allowed us to do!) to see a sea of boxes everywhere. As the boxes for the move began to pile up in the last few weeks, this memory grew stronger.
Thinking in terms of how technology has changed over the years, we moved in with a small, yellow, 12 or 13-inch television and VCR. An answering machine eventually came, as did cassette tape players that we bought at the nearby K-Mart or Woolco. Through the years, TVs were upgraded and we moved through CD players and DVD players; the landline is now outdated and the grandkids keep asking for the Wi-Fi password.
My brother and I had these great custom shelves in our bedrooms, left by the previous owners. They were perfect for storing our toys, stuffed animals, and games. When my parents let us paint our rooms to suit our taste, the walls were one colour and trim and accents were another colour. This must have been a trend in the ’80s as a lot of the house was like this! My brother and I spent a lot of time playing together, combining our toys to make epic playsets, using Construx to make houses for my Barbies, who dated the WWF (now WWE) wrestlers or He-Man figures.
We kids have long since been given all of our toys and stuffed animals, memorabilia, and mementos to keep at our own homes. All that is left is 35 years of my parent’s lives, rediscovering photos and ephemera from their own early days together and figuring out what to do with the collection of camping gear and tools – how do you pack a garage?
At the time of writing this, there are less than two weeks to process not visiting my childhood home on an (at least) weekly basis. I get nostalgic driving past my grandparents’ house, which can be seen from Rossland Road, and I wonder if my kids, nieces, and nephews will feel the same way driving past my own parents’ home. Years ago, my grandparents’ home was up for sale, and we were fortunate enough to go to the open house. Will I want to revisit my own childhood home? I imagine only time will tell.
Addendum: The big move has happened, and everything went well. This is a big adjustment period for everyone. My husband drove past the old house last night on his way home from the dentist we’ve had all these years. His report back to me: “It looks the same.”