canada

LONDON DAY TWO – more talk on tape…

Hey there!  Today was full of interviews, which are proving to be indispensable in providing us with a base from which to launch our questions that we will ask the public from our story mobile on street level. Today we spoke to Kathy Novackas, the extraordinary founder of the London Fringe among a list of other grassroots initiatives.  Kathy told us of the movers and shakers in the arts community downtown and the venues and theatres that pop up around town.  She recounted her own memories of visiting Kingsmills and Roland Hill Shoe Store as a child where her mom would buy her oversized clothing for the year ahead, that she would have to grow between her next annual visit to London Ontario from London England where she spent her childhood.

Next we met with Michael Gibson, who has had an art gallery downtown since 1984, and in its current location on Carling Street since 1997.  Michael wowed us with stories of the 80’s and 90’s on the scene and then how it felt to be part of the circle of people who held hands around the entire Talbot block to protest bulldozing it to build the John Labatt Centre.  When asked about the stigma of downtown London, Michael brought our attention to his flower basket and the two benches he had the city put in across the street from his gallery.  He wishes everyone would follow suit, knowing all the businesses have a vested interest in the improvement of downtown, but what he says is that not everyone agrees with the best way to make it happen…

GIBSON GALLERY

Finally, we had a quick visit with Natalie Boot of Renaissance Massage Therapy and Spa Ltd.  Natalie’s business is inside the Citi Plaza, which used to be the grandiose Galleria Mall.   The Galleria Mall used to house Eaton’s, The Bay, The Gap, Eddie Bauer, and Ralph Lauren, to name a few.  Those stores are long gone, and now there is a beautiful public library, among other smaller stores and services and empty spaces.  We are curious about this enormous structure right smack downtown.  There’s a story there, we are sure of it, and perhaps it will help shed some light on just what happened over the past few decades downtown….

As we walked back into the downtown office a gift awaited us… Felicia, who was visiting London from Vancouver regaled us with her stories of waitressing at the Mascot, and a Casino bar on Dundas Street, and her one day of working at the lunch counter at Kresge’s where the lights were bright outside the building and flickered on and off all day!

ANYONE ELSE REMEMBER THIS?!  SEND US YOUR MEMORIES OF DOWNTOWN LONDON!

CALL 1-855-CAN-TALE  or email us at INFO@FIXTPOINT.COM and add your story to the collective community memory!

HUNTSVILLE DAY NINE – hello i love you won’t you tell me your name

 

8:15AM call in segment for CBC’s sweet ONTARIO MORNING!  Featured this week, Gus the SIGN GUY and Rudi the ROCK MAN, or so we call these two fantastic artists. Both of these guys have made the main street of Huntsville more beautiful.

Then Charles went to Toronto to pick up the equipment we will need next week for the show – speakers, headphones, projectors, piles of cables, a few lights and some select items from my costume trunk.

And I stayed in the went off to be on a show with Suzzanne Riverin on the awesome Hunter’s Bay, then interviewed the one and only show stopping Bill Sibeon who has not only owned Al’s Taxi in town for over 30 years, but is also celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary tomorrow!  Oh Bill’s voice!  I only heard his speaking one, but I can only imagine how he sounded in all the Rotarian musicals he starred in!  Anyone have any of these on tape?!

When Charles got back, we unloaded the jeep and had a beer.  Pub on the Docs.  “There’s always time for a quick one!”

 

HUNTSVILLE DAY SEVEN – best laid plans

 

At 9am we met up with the incredible Helena – President of the Huntsville Festival of the Arts / General Manager of the Huntsville Business Improvement Association  / Set Designer for The Tale of a Town – Huntsville (she doesn’t know that part yet… we are just letting it happen bit by bit… ).  Helena traced the letters onto the window, I filled them in, and Charles time lapsed the whole thing.  Check out this link to see how fast it all happened….

   

Later that morning Chris from What’s Up! Muskoka met up with us for an interview and we let him in on some top secret show plans for Nuit Blanche North.  Then we took a walk with Gus from Hilltop Signs and were amazed by his craftsmanship and all he knew about all the businesses on Main Street whose signs he had created – and there were many… Actually, Gus calls the Main Street of Huntsville his showroom!

Here’s a pic of him in front of the very first sign he made on Main Street, years ago…  Next, I went to take in some music at the Trinity Church played by our next interviewee Doug Banwell whose band was performing as part of the music at noon series. I was pleased to take a moment of down time in this acoustically astonishing atmosphere.  When we interviewed Doug, we found out just how close of a friend he was to the late David Kaye – the final owner of the infamous Empire Hotel.

Apparently Joni Mitchell wrote this song about the place:

Then our storymobile battery died.  A few hours later, it was fixed because of a super nice man from an autoshop who drove here from Bracebridge and fixed it.  He wouldn’t take a penny.  Not even an ice cream!

And so – we leave you today with that.

 

HUNTSVILLE DAY SIX – movin’ on IN!

A breakfast meeting on our way back from Alquonquin Park to plan the days ahead. On the agenda:  look up and phone all those people who we were told we just HAVE TO interview….  refine our interview questions based on our the story leads we’ve gathered so far….  pick up some ice cream to fill our freezer…. and pack up our gear and supplies to MOVE INTO OUR POP UP STOREFRONT!!!  at 54 Main Street East, right in the heart of downtown Hunstville. Here is the “before” picture of this awesome space with a great vibe.  We say this, while our heart goes out to all of the businesses who have been there before, and all of those yet to come.  Our stay here will be short and… super duper awesome.

 And here it all begins to come together… as the stories find their place in space and time.  Brown paper will soon line every wall.  And we will throw ideas against it… some will fall, and some will stick.  And all along the voices of all the people we have interviewed will resonate through the room as we try to find a way to tell The Tale of a Town here in Huntsville.

HUNTSVILLE DAY FIVE – O Canada our home

We headed down to River Mill Park bright and very early to scope out a sight for our storymobile and find power to plug in our freezer alongside it.  Thanks to the awesome Canada Day crew here in Huntsville, it was easy as ice cream. Before we did anything, we filled up at the Rotary Pancake Breakfast.  YUM!  Then the band began, followed by the citizenship ceremony where over 20 people were welcomed as new Canadian citizens.

After the music and hubbub died down, we opened our storymobile for business.  We spotted someone with a Bathtub Derby embroidered golf shirt, so we knew we had to talk to him!  He led us to the Bathtub Derby exhibition at the docs where two boats were tested out by the next generation of competitors for the big come back of the contest in next summer!

It was our lucky day because we also met Rudi the Rock Man this afternoon, Manny from That Little Place by the Lights, Cathy from The Great Vine, Bob from Christmas Thyme and Chris Occhiuzzi from What’s Up Muskoka!

However, the most exciting and inspiring story traders on Canada Day were the kids.  Here are some pics of the brave souls that came into our storymobile and told us some tales about this magnetic town!

A hot day came to a cool close at the Legion Branch 232 where we heard some more true stories about the downtown while enjoying a DELICIOUS roast beef dinner – our compliments to the chefs!

Exhausted and full, we headed back to our cottage by the lake, packed up and headed out of town – all the way to Burk’s Falls on Sunday night and Alquonquin Park on Monday July 2 to celebrate our one and only first year Anniversary – that’s right folks, we’re not only a couple of story sleuths, we’re also a couple in love!

HUNTSVILLE DAY FOUR

Writing and posting this blog! Listening to and logging all of the interviews so far....

Getting ready for a big day downtown Huntsville tomorrow for Canada Day festivities.... stay posted!

We feel like we living inside a Tom Thompson painting today.  Here’s the view from where we are right now:

HUNTSVILLE DAY TWO

7 - EMPTY EMPIRE LOT

In the morning of day two we unpacked, went swimming and got our bearings then headed into town for an editorial meeting at The Forester, Huntsville’s newspaper.  It was incredible to hear about the history of the newspaper owned for generations by the Rice family and it's recent handover to Metroland Media Group Ltd.  Here’s an old sign we saw hanging on the wall. We met with News Editor Tamara, Mandy who is a new reporter at the paper and Tina Turley who works in production at The Forester but who is also a local legendary country musician. We talked about notable downtown people, the city's development and of course we heard more stories about the bathtub derby and the Empire Hotel.  Tina even recounted times when she was a kid hanging out at the Empire while her father played there.  Tina continues to perform all over Huntsville and the surrounding areas, and lucky for us she is playing next Wednesday downtown in the afternoon by the lake.  Tina coined the unofficial name for the event "a twoonie for a tune" - we can't wait to hear her play!

After our meeting at The Forester, Charles took pics of every business along Main Street with his tripod.  Lisa went to find the archives and local history room at the local library.  And together we stopped and stared at the empty lot on the corner of main east and main west where the empire hotel had stood.  We have heard it burned down several years ago, but it still feels alive in the memories of the few people we have spoken to already.

Back at our little cottage by the lake, we ate and drank and went to sleep early because tomorrow was looking like a jam-packed day.

AND WE'RE OFF!

A long day packing.  Night after the Dora awards in downtown Toronto.  Charles drives early in the morning to Chapman's to pick up the decked out storymobile. Lisa sleeps in and then posts Dora pics on Facebook. Charles goes out to buy a freezer for the ice cream.  Lisa has a chat with her mom and then begins to pack.

We get on the road by 8:30pm

Before we get on the highway, we stop for a quick photo shoot with Tony & Danielle of little blue lemon photography.  They set up lights, call us to action and click us into gear before we finally leave town.  Their photos are beyond awesome.

...And as we drive away we feel ourselves slowly start to unwind.  We arrive at 3am at our cottage by the lake

 

 

FIXT POINT HITS THE ROAD!!!!

  ... And we're off!!!  THE TALE OF A TOWN X ONTARIO TOUR has just begun.   This summer FIXT POINT is hitting the road to trade ice cream for stories about downtown's and their Main Street tales.  Which people will we meet?   What stories will we find? What will we create?

THANKS to our supporters who have helped us get on our way.  Without you there would be no way.  Wait - that's united way.  But I’m talking about our way - across Ontario this summer.  You have fuelled us with ingenuity and creative spirit.  And you are with us on this adventure!

A HUGE SHOUT OUT TO:

CHAPMAN'S ICE CREAM THE HIVE ONTARIO ARTS COUNCIL THE WALRUS CBC ONTARIO MORNING HUNTSVILLE FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS DOWNTOWN LONDON

STOP ONE: HUNSTVILLE!

FIXT POINT will be in town June 26 to July 15!

While we are here, you can find us doing one of the following things: * Trading Chapman's ice cream for stories about downtown in our storymobile! * Sharing some of the gathered stories CBC Ontario Morning every Friday and Monday! * Listening to interviews, editing interviews and mapping stories online! * Creating a site-specific theatre installation for NUIT BLANCHE NORTH on July 14 in  downtown Huntsville!

SEE YOU ON MAIN STREET!!

Watch here for updates and if you'd like to learn more about the tour, where we are going, our supporters and how you can drop us line with your Main Street story visit HERE