From the Editor, October 2014

Nothing is like it was.

With those words ends the short story, Matilda’s England, by Irish writer William Trevor. It is a piece about a woman’s life seen through changes in the place where she lives.

What took place in our little corner of Ottawa one weekend this fall, planted Trevor’s story firmly in my mind.

It was the last Sunday afternoon of September. I took advantage of exceptionally good weather to collect the first leaves that had fallen in the yard.

Our beloved Bower Street was quiet. I could hear the Canadian and United States anthems performed across the canal at Lansdowne as the Fury were about to take on Minnesota United.

I raked the red and yellow leaves and put them in paper bags meant for yard waste. As I did, I wondered how many more years I would undertake the very same chores.

I was comforted by the familiarity of the routine.

How differently I had felt the evening before.

On Sept. 27, I had gone to the second annual Ottawa Food Truck Rally in the Saint Paul University parking lot. I had expected a neighbourhood occasion – something like the Main Farmers Market or the Main Event in June, a bit larger-scale but nevertheless an event reserved largely for Old Ottawa East residents.

How wrong I was.

The rally drew people from across the city. I met a few familiar faces from our streets but I also ran into a friend of mine from Westboro. A crowd, the size of which I had never seen in my decade in Old Ottawa East, gathered and grew. Parked cars extended up and down Main Street for blocks.

A band ramped up the energy of the day even higher. The mayor showed up. Domicile Developments, a sponsor of the event and a builder of two shiny condominium buildings just north of the university, was on hand.The grounds were alive with people and music and a level of festivity I had only associated previously with other parts of the city: the downtown during Bluesfest, say, or the Glebe on a night when the RedBlacks are playing.

In the days that followed, the meaning of what I had experienced dawned on me. It had to do with the changes that lie in store for Old Ottawa East, changes that are about to begin happening thick and fast in the next 12 months. New buildings, many new residents, a reconstructed Main Street, new shops; all these will begin to appear. We are about to lose things too: some green space, yes, but also our innocence, that sleepy-corner-hidden-secret sense that we, who have lived in OOE until now have owned.

The rest of Ottawa moved into our part of town for one evening in September. That frenzied night at the Food Truck Rally may become typical of life in our future.

You can see the coming transformation begin to be reflected in the Mainstreeter, too. Consider our stories on the new residential and commercial developments. Consider Jamie Brougham’s piece about the need to clean up our Rideau riverbank and populate it with a permanent boating facility. There’s an energy of expectation in this issue that I hope you will see throughout the next year … or two, or three.

At one point in William Trevor’s story, there is a large gathering, a party, many people invited. It is on the eve of World War 2. As the party winds down and people return to their homes, Matilda’s father says, “Well, that’s the end of that.” And Matilda knows he isn’t speaking about the party but rather something larger, more abstract.

As we head into this winter, as 2015 approaches, I can’t stop thinking of those words.

That’s the end of that.

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