Posts Tagged ‘Walking’

Morning on the Train

July 3, 2009

With a final submission of paperwork, I have completed my Master’s degree.  It’s a very satisfying feeling, even though I was technically finished months ago. Having it all submitted before my 27th birthday feels very nice.  Wandering from Union Station to the University of Toronto I am always astonished by the sheer number of people heading into work in the morning.  There are a great many office towers along Bay and University, and they fill up quickly between 7:30 and 9 am.  Many of them traveled with me from Hamilton this morning, and will head back via train or bus at the end of the day.  I appreciate the compromised insanity of the commute having once done so myself. I left home each morning and rode the bus to Toronto for classes, sometimes getting home well after 11pm, only to return the next day.  For me, it was a small price to pay for the financial savings, and the ability to stay in Pinstripe Mystery.  Others must find comfort in the familiarity of home, the less daunting profile of smaller cities, and the obvious discounts on living arrangements.

There is currently a motor oil commercial that describes the “worst commute in America.”  A man drives two and a half hours each way for work, through congested freeways.  I have heard stories of people traveling from Hamilton to Oshawa for work, a trip that can take 4 hours at rush hour.  Some friends live in the city they work in, but still drive 30+ minutes to work.  What a contrast to the past. For instance, at Whitehern museum in Hamilton there is a rug that depicts the QEW when it first opened. Thomas McQuesten, one of the inhabitants of the house, was instrumental in the construction of that highway.  The rug show a 4 lane street lined with trees and homes, not unlike many rural highways today.  Today, it is a 6 lane (sometimes more) road that is often crammed with traffic.

One of my grandfathers walked to work from his home in the north end of Hamilton.  The other did the same for a time before moving onto the mountain, quite a bit further from the police station he worked at.  It was a sign of the changing world.  People think it is strange when I walk from my home down into the city, or when I ignore the subway and hike from Union to St. Michael’s.  I much prefer the exercise and the fresh air, even in winter.  The new urban plan for the City of Hamilton calls for less sprawl and more intensification. I hope this means more people can walk to work, they’d be doing themselves, and all of us, a favour.

A Feeling And A Definition

March 25, 2009

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Another day, another incredible Canadian short film.  This Oscar nominated (1968) piece by Ryan Larkin captures the variety and majesty of human walking in a variety of animation/art techniques.  I am posting this video not only for its visual content, but also for the phenomenal music that accompanies it.  It’s fascinating to me that an artist can take an ordinary action and transform it into a compelling presentation. On the surface there is nothing remarkable about walking, or the many people presented in the film.  But on closer inspection, I see the complexity of bipedal transportation being explored through whimsical eyes.

In my intial post about the National Film Board, I noted that many Canadian shorts have received Oscar nominations.  I think it is a testament to the creative visionaries who have pushed the boundaries of film over the years.  While most elements of creative endeavour battle the move towards popular conformity (see yesterday’s post) I think it is important that as a nation we encourage dynamic activity in the Arts.  If Canada is to truly have it’s own culture defined, then we must invent our own way to express that meaning.

Much of this blog has dealt with elements of that cultural definition, by highlighting movements and creations that I see has significant to the conversation. Certainly there has been a great deal of other material on here, but at the core of The Alder Fork is a quest for meaning.  One of the main elements of that is the hope for a Canadian identity.  Perhaps it should not be quantified in a standard way, but I think it should be sketched. If we can see it, we can touch it, and by feeling our way through Canadian culture we will come to a greater understanding of the nation and its people.

Please enjoy Walking by Ryan Larkin.