Old country Dundas charm a victim of growth and progress
One resident laments he’s not in Kansas anymore
Donald Trump’s slogan: Make America Great Again!
What does it really mean?
When was it great?
Why is it not great anymore? When it was great, what made it great? I grew up in small town Dundas. I remember lying on the street, in the centre of downtown, on a Saturday night, in the middle of the busiest intersection (Market Street), with a clear view of all four stop lights as they turned from green to yellow to red.
Not one car approached before I got bored, stood up and left.
The city shut down at night. It was so quiet. Nothing happened … ever. And everyone seemed to know your name — and your business.
I hated it.
I moved to Toronto, flew to Florida, and eventually moved to California (via Calgary) in search of life, which, at the time, I equated with fun and excitement.
What I discovered, while living in Hollywood, was that I was not in Kansas anymore.
But my dog was named Boomer (and Jack, I had two), the Lion had no courage (justifiably so, because while the palm trees still lined the streets, they were dark and dangerous at night), the Scarecrow had no brain (Grauman’s Chinese Theatre was now Mann’s Chinese Theatre, people slept on the streets and drug dealers and prostitutes lined the walk of fame) and the Tin Man had no heart (Ronald Reagan created the amnesty program, which forced me out of the country as well).
It was not until I returned to Dundas that I essentially found everything I had been searching for.
The city shut down at night. It was quiet. Nothing ever happened. And everyone seemed to know my name … and my business.
That is what made Dundas great.
It was not the town that needed to change, it was me.
Today, Dundas still has much of its charm, but the downtown is suffering a major identity crisis.
Mixed in with its 1800s architecture, are the glass windows of a very modern looking Starbucks.
The old library is an art gallery and the new library just received a multimilliondollar renovation.
The grand old post office is full of stores and offices.
King Street is so busy with through traffic from the nearby subdivisions that the crosswalk requires flashing strobe lights, and a woman was recently killed while crossing between the four banks at the Market Street intersection (the same intersection at which I lay on my back, on a Saturday evening, watching the lights change colour).
In my haste to leave, I returned to realize that much of what I enjoyed most about the town had left as well.
Fortunately, some of the old country charm remains.
The cashiers at the ever-modernizing Metro grocery store and the tellers at TD bank continue to come out and hug my mom when she arrives and inquire as to her wellbeing.
This is why I continue to ask the city bus drivers how they are when I embark and thank them for dropping me safely at my stop when I leave, and why I inform any and all customer service representatives I encounter how much I appreciate their smiles and the warmth they share when they first greet me.
Unfortunately, I also remain wary of telephone marketers and scam artists and take impeccable notes when dealing with large corporations over the telephone (banks, utilities, cable and telephone companies and the City of Hamilton, which has now swallowed up Dundas and the surrounding towns into the Greater Hamilton Area and has turned the old Dundas Town Hall into a relic).
I wonder if even Kansas is Kansas any more.
I bet even the residents there must now lock their doors at night.