2008-10-08

Gone baby gone


We see a number of new condo towers going up in Centretown and I'm of two minds about this.

On the one hand, anything that injects some life and people into the core is good. On the other, I wonder where all these folks are going to eat, shop, stroll and generally enjoy life?

Too many downtown bookshops, cafes, cinemas, grocery stores and restaurants to count have disappeared over the last decade or so. And the only things that seem to spring up in their place are condominiums, office towers and chain-sponsored coffee shops.

Five places I miss:

1. The Canadian Tire store at Kent and Laurier, torn down in 2002. A veritable urban oasis of tools, home supplies, paint and sporting goods. Apparently the smallish outlet did not fit with the corporation's vision of suburban megastores.

2. The Bay Street Guest House. Once a quaint bed-and-breakfast on Bay near Gloucester, it has been a graffiti-strewn wreck for years, endlessly waiting to be demolished along with several other adjacent houses so Richcraft Homes can put up a honkin' big condo building.

3. The Elgin cinema on our beloved boulevard, where Audrey, ESI Cultural Affairs Officer, once toiled as an usherette. Little-known fact: it was the first theatre in North America to have two screens. This foreshadowed the multiplex trend that eventually sent The Elgin to the big box office in the sky.

4. The little cafe just inside the Rideau Centre, across from the magazine shop. It quietly served fine, fresh-brewed coffee, delicious pasta and tasty sandwiches. A perfect place to steel oneself for an afternoon of mall-bound Christmas shopping. I can't even remember its name. But maybe that's a good thing, as I do know the replacement is a Starbucks.

5. There's no fifth thing. It's already long gone.


Image: http://www.magma.ca/~hra/travia.htm

6 comments:

A. & J. said...

I didn't even know that there used to be a Canadian Tire there. Ah. It would have been so helpful to have one there the past couple of days.

The Chair said...

I saw my first R-rated movie at the Elgin when I was only 16. Audrey must've not been on shift that night. Or maybe she was...

Audrey said...

I might have been on shift! I saw several R-rated movies. Fellini's "City of Women" was pretty graphic! My favourite movie was "Raiders of the Lost Ark". It was a special screening included free with another film. The audience did not know what to expect - I think there hadn't been much advertising of the film. The audience was captivated by the film and there was lots of screaming during the scene where the skeletons tumble out of the walls.

I wish I had known you then, Chair! I could have gotten you in for free with my employee passes.

Aggie said...

I miss the Cafe Wim and that pub that was a bank that is now a grocery store on Bank St. And a bar called something like Le Coquetier in Hull. It might still be there, but it got renovated and isn't the same.

coyote said...

During Winterlude, ma'am, the Bank Cafe, served up the finest Snowball Coffee in the city. Even if it was on Bank Street...

Woodsy said...

Audrey, I saw City of Women when it showed at the Elgin - it was in the early to mid eighties -I wonder if you are the one who took my ticket...