Back when we were in Little Current, a group of people spotted our storymobile and pitched us to come to Killarney… so, to Killarney we went! It was a long road into town off of highway 69, but finally we arrived in this small and splendid little town, population 500.
When we arrived on Channel Street, the main street in Killarney with one side water one side road, the mayor flagged us down in his truck and came to greet us. He insisted that he treat us to the famous Herbert’s fish and chips. Herbert's was the hottest spot in town and before long, the town historian, a town elder, and our connector from back in Little Current, Mary Jane, were all with us on the dock as the tale of a town turned the conversation to the changes in Killarney over the years.
Inside the storymobile I was fortunate to talk with the town historian, Rosiland Zimmiska whose family has lived here in Killarney for four generations. The photos I saw of the main street in days gone by sent my imagination soaring.
In the meantime, Charles took a walk on the dock side of main street with Marvin Roque, town elder who told tales of the busy days of commercial fishing in the channel.
You might assume with a name like Killarney that this is an Irish settlement, but think again. Killarney, Ontario is Native and French with a long and languid history. No electricity until 1950, and no road to get in until 1962!! Life was isolated and insular here in most people’s earliest memories of this town, but apparently the parties were indescribable…. If you have a story about Killarney, call our storyline at 1-855-CAN-TALE and we'll be sure to add it to the collective community memory map of this small but sensational town.
Come sit in on our Killarney conversations to hear more about this joyful place where all you have to do is look out to see its stunning beauty.
A Walk Down Main Street - Killarney Edition.
First off, the drive from Little Current to Sudbury, across the swing bridge, along highway 6 & 16 was so breathtaking - you have to go and see it for yourself. The night we arrived in Sudbury, we got a phone call from our friend and colleague back home advising us to head straight to the Townehouse bar on Elgin Street and look for Paul, the manager. So to the Townehouse we went! It was one of those restored, old taverns, with a seemingly secret side entrance and eventually we did find who we were looking for. We booked a meeting with Paul for the next morning.
It was fascinating to hear what Paul had to say about the story of Sudbury’s downtown over the years. Always a meeting place, a rail town turned mine town, with two standout flat iron buildings, many other torn down buildings, a mall where a market has been, and a strip that is making its way back on the map with cool new cafes, bars and boulangeries. The Elgin strip they call it, which apparently had been long neglected, is where we met Paul – at the other place he manages, The Laughing Buddha, where all kinds of imported beers are just an order away. Guess what else we found out – Stompin’ Tom wrote that song at the Townehouse. You know the one…
After our meeting with Paul we parked downtown. A steady line of people came to see us at our storymobile and we got a feel for this nickel city built atop a meteor crater. You can check out a selection of stories we gathered on our story map HERE.
Some of the local press caught us downtown too...!
After our storymobile stint we went to meet up at the Sudbury Theatre Centre with David Savoy to talk tale of a town. David invited the creative and savy Matthew Heiti and the four of us imagined together what it would be like to take audiences down the streets of Sudbury while telling its tales…
A site specific performance is certainly something that would breathe life into these story filled streets and spread the good news that Sudbury’s downtown is here to stay. Details to come…
In the meantime, why not tune in to our podcast and hear about if for yourself!
A Walk Down Main Street – Sudbury Edition.
In Little Current, we stayed at the legendary Anchor Inn, one of those old hotels we've heard so much about, but this one was renovated and truly rockin'! In their community room, we sat in on the live broadcast of The Cruiser’s Net with Roy who keeps the boats on the other side of water street afloat. Outside, we met the father daughter team - owner and editor of The Manitoulin Expositor who convinced us to join the Let It Be campaign -a civic initiative to keep the Little Current Post Office downtown!
It was a whirlwind 24 hours in Little Current. Trading ice cream for stories, we ran in to some of the most delightful people we have met so far. It's true, there is something spirited about this island. We could have stayed...forever!
To hear from the mouths of the haweaters themselves, tune in to our podcast, created for The Walrus.
A Walk Down Main Street – Little Current Edition!
How lucky we were that there was a cancellation at Turtle Creek Lodge on Manitoulin Island! We drove straight from Markdale to Tobermory, drove onto a ferry boat, took a gorgeous cruise north to the spirit island, and found our way to this secluded paradise on the biggest lake on the biggest island on a freshwater lake in the world! It was in this mystical place that we wrote and recorded our first few editions of our podcast series: A Walk Down Main Street. To check out the series in its entirety, go to our soundcloud page and take a stroll around!
One very touching thing that happened while we were at Turtle Creek – a couple got married down at the water! A bagpiper announced the surprise celebration and we joined in for the ceremonies. Later that night the couple treated the lodgers to a fireworks show and we watched from our cabin as we worked the night away…
A thank you to Jack and Joyce who made our stay so, so nice. I don’t want to advertise how amazing and gorgeous and beautiful their place is for fear that it will be all booked up for next summer when we want to go back… But that would be just too selfish, so here it is (but keep it under wraps!) http://www.manitoulin-island.com/turtlecreek/
Before we left we checked in with Points North on CBC Radio, to let the north know we were on our way to Little Current, then onto Sudbury. CBC.ca | Points North | Storymobile lets people trade stories for ice cream.
And zoom! we were off again to search out some more stories in this province of towns and trees…
The main street in Markdale seemed quiet at first glance, but once we got chatting, stories started seeping out! We started our search with the very friendly Eric Robertson, a real estate agent who grew up in Markdale. And as we walked with Eric down the main street, we ran into almost everyone in town going in or coming out of the post office to pick up their mail. And that's when we discovered the post office is where we should always park our storymobile downtown... and slowly but surely, the people came. We spoke to former mayor Stan Baker,
Rotarian Jerry Bartley,
former school principal Willard Foster... among others.
In between storymobiling, we stopped into some stores on the strip. We hit up the Bargain Store, where whoppie cusions have been selling for a dollar as long as anyone can remember;
we popped into Jeans Jeans and More Jeans where the band the Constantines got their swag;
we waltzed into Quilter’s Line to find out about the this gathering place that threads together the stories of rural women;
And we ducked into a café where every customer has their own mug to talk to a local teen; and we pranced into a toy store for a little play on words.
Finally, we headed to the Chapman’s newly built factory, which replaces the old creamery that burned down only a few years ago. I’m sure the old Chapman’s had a nostalgia that can never be duplicated, however, this new ice cream machine is sleek and sexy and sensational. We interviewed Ashley Chapman, the vice president of Champan’s Ice Cream. He's the grown up version of that little boy whose face is on the Chapman’s logo! He's the kind of guy you just can't help but hug. (well, I couldn't help it, I'm a hugger...)
After a great chat with Ashley, we met his magnificent mother, Penny Chapman, who co-founded this fabulous company along with her husband David. It was a real treat to talk to Penny in person and hear the story how this booming business began, firsthand from the one who built it up.
Markdale is full of memories. A farming town that became an important industrial town which became once again the small town that it is today. In the heart of grey county – a beautiful, beautiful part of this province.
Take a listen to some to hear more of the memories we gathered in the land of ice cream dreams! Tales of the street frolic, the cake wheel, the house of refuge await you...
A Walk Down Main Street - Markdale Edition!
We stopped in downtown Ingersoll to see gather some stories in Charles’ hometown! We heard tales of a fire on the main drag, legendary department stores, and we even heard a love story! Don’t take my word for it, check our SoundCloud story map on our website www.thetaleofatown.com and read this article in The Ingersoll Times. Story 'catchers' stop in Ingersoll | News | Ingersoll Times.
And when you are done reading, tune in here to our podcast created for The Walrus to hear the stories for yourself!
A Walk Down Main Street - Ingersoll Edition.
Charles got up and took the storymobile in for service – the air conditioner is on the fritz! So, I packed up our hotel and we met the awesome Andrea and lovely Lisa from Downtown London for lunch at Che – a mouthwatering new downtown resto. Then to the office to pack up from yesterday’s brown paper presentation, a quick stop for Christmas cards from Kingsmill’s sidewalk sale (I just HAD to – after all we’ve heard about it), and we were OFFFFFFF! So long farewell London Town! We hope to see you sooooooooooon!!!!!
Check out some of the stories we collected in London on our SoundCloud story map by visiting our website thetaleofatown.com, and listen to our radio broadcast A Walk Down Main Street - London Edition!
This morning I wrote a quick rhyming diddie to add to our presentation so that in hopes of getting everyone out of their seats and on to the streets at the end of the presentation today. It was quick and dirty and I think quite clever! If you want to hear a bit, listen for it in the middle of our radio podcast A Walk Down Main Street - London Edition.
Downtown London, The London Arts Council, The Heritage Council, The Grand Theatre, The City of London, The London Fringe all gathered together at the Downtown London office and we unveiled our proposed plan. That’s all I can tell you today. There’s lots of work to be done but it’s going to be very very very… FUN!
After the presentation, we had a beer, ordered a pizza, and slept for many hours. LONDON Town was done for now, but the tale continues…
Ohhhhhh – it’s time to listen. And we need help. We called in our friend, Sandy Gribbon, an incredible theatre artist who lives here in London and teaches at Fanshawe College. We also needed a few more sets of ears, so I called Tyler from City Lights books (he seemed way smart), and although he couldn’t come on the drop of a dime, he sent us two awesome people, Andrew and Chris. Thanks guys. Your ears let us hear so much more. Thanks to Bob Usher we had the Labatte Lounge at the market for a spell, making lunch time selections a highly anticipated part of the day… salads and smoothies and sandwiches and smoked salmon, and… the list goes on.
As we always seem to do – we lined the walls with brown paper and started scribbling time codes and character ideas and quotations all over until bit by bit lines began to bunch together and singular stories became tales of the town.
Even though we had vowed that we were not interviewing another person, Charles checked out for a quick chat with the mayor – we did not want to pass up the opportunity to catch this man while we can…. I mean while we could. what tense am I in here? Whatever, it’s better to rhyme. bed time!
The day began with a delightful interview a la Dana Morningstar. Dana is the chair of media arts at Fanshaw college and a Londoner through and through. She told us tales about that market parrot swearing at her when she was a kid at the market, and stopping off at The Bay downtown on way to work to get a squirt of perfume in the early days of her career. After the interview, Dana treated us to a tour of the INCREDIBLE Fanshawe College media facilities. Wow. Those students are spoiled, as they should be. And very lucky to have what they need to get their waves flowing and their bytes dining. Things have changed a bit since Charles graduated from their Music Industry Arts Program, but the tour still led him on a sound scape down memory lane (just go with the metaphors people – I’m trying to keep it interesting…)
The afternoon took us to an interview with the fascinating memory making machine Jack DiCarlo at Michael’s on the Thames. Oh Jack – he is retiring this coming Tuesday after almost 40 years serving up silver service tableside a la flambée here in London Ontario. His heart bursts with passion and his dedication to his patrons is beyond measure. He reminds me of my “nonno” (Italian grandpa) and I feel that somehow I know him. I think Jack just has that effect on people – he makes everyone feel welcome and his personality is warmer than a hot toddy. In fact, a hot toddy shrinks in comparison to “Jack’s Coffee” – one of the specialties that combines ice cream and liquers on fire that we had to cap off our meal on Saturday when we came here to Michael’s on the Thames for Londonlicious. After that coffee, we couldn’t help but wonder about who this “Jack” was, and that is brought us here today to meet him in the flesh.
To hear more about the real life legend of Jack DiCarlo, listen in to the Huntsville Edition of our podcast A Walk Down Main Street!
May we present to you our amazing artistic collaborators for:
The Tale of a Town - Huntsville!
Artistic Director of Suitcase In Point
(sister company to FIXT POINT!)
Artistic Producer of Suitcase in Point
Artistic Director of TheatreRun
Toronto based Actor, Clown and Creator
Everybody arrived, and we got right down to it. As you can see from the pics, listening to all the stories we have gathered was the top order of the day.
Logging clips of what jumped out at us was also par for the course.
It didn't happen as this fast, but check us out in action here:
And for a break, we took a stroll down Main Street so the artists could see some of what they were hearing about for themselves...
Here we are on the lot of the old Empire Hotel.
….73 interviews later, and 48 collective hours later, we called it a day. And our imaginations began soaring with ideas for The Tale of a Town – Huntsville, the show we would put on in 5 days from today…. eeeek!
Today we tried to organize the many interviews we have taken in, and make a plan for the week to come. How will we listen to over 70 hours of tape before we leave London next week?! And the interviewing isn’t over yet! London has so many downtown stories, and as always - there are so many sides to each story. But alas, that is where creativity comes to play, and artful decisions will rule the day, as we make something beautiful from what the people say…. That rhymes, non?! In the midst of the organizing of tracks and tapes and papers and plans, I skipped off to meet with Dr. Barbara Lendt who had an office in downtown for many years where she delivered babies and promoted health. Barbara painted a picture of downtown from the perspective of a Torontonian who came over 30 years ago, just for a short time, but was drawn in. Above and beyond the insight this interview provided, I loved hearing Barbara’s love for the downtown store Novak’s – that’s one for the story map for sure!
The weekend has come. And my friend Jo from London, England is getting off the via rail train tonight to visit us here in London Ontario!! I can’t wait to show the downtown off and take her out Londonlicious! (I wonder if Jo will feel more at home here with The Covent Garden Market and the forks of the Thames nearby…)
The day began again in the market. Bob usher uncovered the tale of the swearing parrot in the old market whose name was Mac. Bob recounted market memories, both the old and new and what happened in between. It was impressive to hear that there are no chains or franchises allowed, and the farmers who share there are local tried and true. Bob did a few market adverts for me in his booming radio voice, and I was correct I suspected he was a pro… You can hear the voice of Bob on 98.1 Free FM.
Off we went to City Lights Bookstore and it was there we heard the gritty and underground tales of downtown culture. We heard about the days of the Talbot block and the Brunswick House and noise bands and second run movie theatres. We heard about a time when London was packed with young people cruisin’ around the downtown between record shops and comic shops and bookstores to bars. Here are the gents we spoke to, along with one other who wishes to remain anonymous.
Next we rushed to the famed Fanny Goose. We found her at the Richmond Retirement Centre – and a beautiful one it was. It struck my funny bone, as it was a microcosm of downtown London, Ontario inside, replete with the Blackfriars pub and the Covent Gardens – just as London Ontario is a microcosm of London, England, one could say… Fanny’s story is second to none. She even has a book about it. Fanny came to London Ontario from Poland, began selling wares from a suitcase, moved up to a flat bed truck and finally opened a shop downtown called J. Goose Family Clothing which she ran successfully for over 50 years, until she was 88 years old. Anyone who knows anyone back in the day in downtown London will remember Fanny and her wily ways.
Friday tomorrow. Looking forward to the weekend to digest all of these new stories….!
8:30am ghost stories at The Grand! This theatre is a lively place with some super smart women at the helm. We were thrilled to talk The Tale of a Town with them and hear their spin on what is turning around downtown. Here they are – Susan, Andrea and Deb – the leaders of the pack!
Next, we took off to the marked. HOLY MOLY THIS MARKET IS SOOOOO COOL! I can’t believe we haven’t been inside yet and Charles literally had to drag me out later. While inside, we met with the unofficial mayor of the market, Ian Greasley - owner of BLOOMERS in the Market. Ian is a man who knows how to tell a story. The best one was about when the rolled up sleeves of his leather jacket caused a dozen glasses to break at Birks Jewelry in the 70’s. The manager came over and told the long haired, misfit seeming young man, not to worry about it – “these things happen”… and that is why Ian, to this day, has never held anyone up in his store for breakage. But Ian told us that once you've heard the story, you don’t get off the hook so easily if you break something... so we were still careful weaving through his delicate goods on our way out.
Next, we rushed over to City Hall to meet Judy Bryant, the city councilor for downtown London. She took us up onto the top floor where we could overlook the entire city. Judy does lots of her thinking and planning from up here, she told us. She sees more density and high-rise buildings in the future. Here’s the view of downtown from above today:
The afternoon took us to The Sentimentalist where we met with rad Miranda in her vintage clothing shop. Miranda gave us the goods on the punk scene, the new wave styles and the Brunswick, or “The 'Wick”, as it was called to those who frequented it. We heard about the sadness that surrounded the tearing down of the Talbot block and other indie cornerstones of downtown. It was a real treat to talk to Miranda, and it was really difficult not to buy everything in this wicked shop…
Later, we had our long awaited tour with the one and only Kathy McLauglin. She took us on an in-depth walk through downtown pointing out almost every building to tell us its story - the dreams of the business owners, the desires of the landlords, the history, the architecture, the revitalization plans… While walking with Kathy we felt somewhat like celebrities, because she knew so many people along the way – and always introduced our project and us. It is so key to us to have people like Kathy ready and willing to make space and time for artists and new ideas…. And we highly recommend her tour. You’ll never see the downtown the same way again!
And, if that’s not enough – as I type this, Charles is out with Doug Allen – a former owner of a downtown theatre and a known storyteller. Hearing Doug's rendition of certain key events that we are following from the past will certainly be a treat because I hear Doug has a few great tales to tell about downtown London… I look forward to listening to this interview when we start logging all of this material next week!!
We had so many interviews jammed in today that Charles and I had to split up. And for those of you who know the two of us, you have probably noticed we do almost EVERYTHING together. In fact, I'll let you in on a little secret - we're married too! So put that in your pipe and smoke it, while you read on... Well, to be honest, the day got off to a slow start with an early morning interview scheduled at the tatoo parlour which did not happen because no one was there yet! In retrospect, it probably was not the most ideal time to schedule an appointment with a tatoo parlour - but we'll try to catch up with them later...
Next, Charles went off to see the all knowing Mary Brae, a long time Londoner who bought and sold many properties downtown, and I went off solo to an INCREDBLE visit at My Sister's Place. The women at this drop-in centre awaited me and they were full of nostalgic stories about downtown and opinions on what could be done to improve the city. I was lucky to get a tour around this beautiful restored heritage house that they call home, and find out about the wealth of programming in this truly welcome, inclusive and positive space which some women told me saved their lives. I promised to return with ice cream. And I shall!!
Here I am interviewing one woman who told me that The Forest City has become the Butt City because of all the cigarettes on the streets. She is lobbying to see this change and she also imagines a future where people on the streets will be more friendly and accepting to everyone who passes by - regardless of social economic class or colour. I like the way she thinks...
While I trotted back from this glorious place, Charles was interviewing Long Phun at the amazing Tamarine and then we both headed to meet JOEeph KOOLafski, a.k.a., Mike Smith. He told us about the good ole’ days downtown, and tales of the buildings, the businesses and the bureaucracy. We LOVED hearing about the character of JOE KOOL who sometimes makes an appearance in his leisure suit. Costumes, alter-egos and public displays of goofery – now THAT is something we can dream around for our show! Thanks Mike / Joe!
Here he is in front of his wall of memories…
Just going into HERO’s downtown is magical – full of fantasy and fun this is THE comic shop to stop into. Meeting the owner Bram takes all that to another level. We were interested to hear his story of slowly working his way up in the comic world, from employee to building and business owner, he told us about the alternative shopping scene in London and why the downtown in any city is the place to get great records, comics, books and art. Bram also spoke to us about students who shut down Dundas and Richmond in protest and it sounds like it was a sight to see!
ANYONE GOT PICS OF THIS PROTEST?? SEND THEM INTO US!
Today we got the storymobile parked right out front of the Downtown London office. I was on the megaphone and Charles set up the equipment. We heard from ALLLLL kinds of people who had differing views about downtown and what it means to them. Ice cream was traded and stories were recorded. We truly cannot wait to listen closely to what everyone had to say. It is in the layering of contrasting views with the points of connection that will allow The Tale of LONDON Town to resonate with everyone who comes to celebrate downtown with us when our show takes the stage of the streets next year! Stay posted for more details….
The show was a true success!!! See for yourself….....
And how did it all happen? With a little help from our friends, of course…
Tina Turley, the Janis Joplin of the north played guitar in our show to help us bring back the bar era of the Empire Hotel! Doug Banwell, David Kaye’s best friend sounded a sweet saxophone in silhouette. Our newest friends Zsiporah and Michael Moon, who we met on the day they moved to Hunstville last week, graced the audience with Harp and song in the prologue. Our colleague Tony Mara who was cottaging in the area stepped in to play my hilarious husband. Jay Cheel, Kevin McMahon and Kristina McLaughlin of Primitive Entertainment were there to capture us on film. The Christmas Tyme store lent us lights. The Great Vine lent us lamps. The Rotary Club dug out bathtubs from storage and even lent us the coveted Rotary wheel and bell. The Huntsville Festival for the Arts found us chairs and ladders every other little thing we needed. The EXTRAORDINARY Dan Watson, Artistic Director of Edge of the Woods Theatre, put together a MAGICAL Nuit Blanche North for us to take part in. And last but not least, the people of Huntsville inspired us with their tales. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU EVERYONE! Another exciting memory was made, about how we brought stories to life on that bright night in Huntsville in July…
Oh, and just in case you are wondering, the tales that made it into the show were:
The Tale of The Bathtub Derby!
The Tale of The Empire Hotel!
The Tale of the Silver Ambassadors!
Shopping on the Main!
Which one was your favourite?! Drop us a line: email@example.com
The Tale of a Town – Hunstville was produced by FIXT POINT, and created by Lisa Marie DiLiberto and Charles Ketchabaw in collaboration with theatre artists Rob Feetham, Deanna Jones, Adam Paolozza and Annie Wilson.
This exciting site-specific theatre and media project was made possible through generous support from The Ontario Arts Council, The Huntsville Festival of the Arts, Chapman’s Ice Cream, The Walrus Magazine and The Hive Strategic Marketing.
Listen Here for our radio show we crafted with some of these stories:
A Walk Down Main Street – Huntsville Edition
And stay tuned, the tale continues… Next stop – LONDON TOWN!
It’s difficult to say how it all happened. But it did! From all of the interviews, together we selected stories, and sound bytes and scenarios and created four tales to tell at Nuit Blanche North. We crafted and cringed and created and collected and carried each other through. We set up lights and sound, put up projections and pictures, we sang and we danced, we laughed and we cried (but mostly laughed), and all we could hope for, was that on Saturday July 14, the people of Huntsville would be proud of what we made from what they gave… We were so busy making our show, we didn't take too many pics, but here's a fun glimpse of our pre-show set up. Check us out lighting up the night before unit blanche north!
We found the trophy!
Rich at Algonquin Outfitters told us the history of the legendary business that reaches us into the wilderness. Rich warmed us with his thermal sleeping bag smile and we were so happy to be on a trip with him into memory lane on the corner of Main Street in Huntsville.
Then we marched off to Hugh McKenzie’s house – former mayor of Huntsville, radio station owner, board director and all time jolly man. It was a thrill hearing his side of all the stories, getting a picture of Main Street when Eaton’s and Wardell’s was still at number 77.
more ice cream. more stories. more fun ahead – tomorrow the other four artists arrive!!!!