Monday, March 29, 2010

The Bridges of West Hill

The West Hill Community can accurately be described as that area of Toronto surrounded by the Highland Creek Valley.

Because we are largely cut off from the rest of the City by that meandering waterway, we have bridges to connect us to the greater community.

Oh yes, we have bridges.

In all shapes and sizes.

From planks casually thrown across rivulets.

To small walking and biking bridges.

To medium sized bridges just large enough to accommodate one lane of traffic going in each direction.

To major bridges supporting three of the City's mighty thoroughfares.

And even bridges that used to be, but are never spoken of any longer.

If you have time and don't mind a bit of colour on a black and white themed day, here is a short video I shot back in May of 2008 of the new bridge that crosses Highland Creek just as it empties into Lake Ontario. Lindsay is along for the walk and will show us the way.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sounds of West Hill

The noise that first draws attention, is the sound of heavy machinery at work. Have I turned a wrong corner and ended up in Dubai? Multiple industrial cranes line the horizon..... but the sun coast of Dubai could never be this cold and dreary!

No, we are still in West Hill in January. Here, where the city's easternmost water filtration plant is being dramatically upgraded, the air is chill and the construction noise echoes.

A sudden familiar sound captures our attention! The distant ringing of bells at the gate, warn of the closing railway crossing behind us. The ringing is soon chorused by the clickity-clack of a train full of commuters, rushing into Toronto's bustling Union Station to their workday employment.

In the silent stillness, following the train's passing, the giant extractor fans at a huge chemical factory on Coronation Drive roar to life, sucking fumes out of the plant, while beside them huge power pumps, blow heat into the massively, large building.

Everywhere along the road, trucks can be spotted delivering raw materials to the sight of the filtration plant construction. Other trucks arrive to pick up the chemicals the various plants in the area are producing. Their job will be to deliver these chemicals where ever they are needed across North America. The roar of the great diesel engine inside these trucks can be heard as a distant whine, while their 18 wheel undercarriage reverberates the ripping sound of the tires riding over the frozen winter pavement.

Sometimes, in the heavily laden winter air it isn't the sounds you really hear, but those you imagine that captures your attention and your heart. Not far from the clatter of the Industrial Park is a small green space with a large and very shallow pond. In the winter the local children clean off the ice and set up their goalie nets here. After school, the slap of hockey sticks, the scratch of skate blades slicing the thick ice covering of the pond and the happy cheers of the young voices gathered, will create a new sound. As their hockey game comes to life, the noisy construction and plant workers will close up shop and call it a day.

At this moment, the happy hockey team silently study in local schools and the factory noises have faded away in the distance. The only sounds around me now, are the occasional bark from Lindsay, and the whirring click of my camera shutter.