Mere hours after returning to Toronto from Peterborough we were up and at'em again, this time headed west towards Hamilton. Ah ha, thought I, now we will experience a true Toronto suburb!
We headed to the Sackville Seniors Recreation Centre "up the mountain" as they say in those parts. A group meets there each week to do charity knitting (and crochet). When we arrived we found a very large group all working away at new projects to be delivered to other institutions and agencies around Hamilton - new babies, abused women, people with all sorts of needs were being met with handmade items of all kinds. It was very impressive - so much love and effort being given so happily and generously.
I said a quick introduction and then Sonya, Lucy and I started to mingle. Finnian chose to read a book, but no one thought the worse of him for it. He was doing pretty well, all things considered.
The funny thing about this group was that, the more I tried to get specific information about Hamiton from them, the more they wanted to ask ME questions about where I was from. At a certain point I gave up and just listened to the stories that were going around the tables.
What stories! Nearly everyone was from another place - Croatia, Germany, England or the Maritime provinces - and they all had wonderful stories about how they ended up in Hamilton. And why they stayed. So interesting and so heart felt. Several people were moved to tears by their remembrances.
One thing that came clear by the end of the two hours of knitting (and by our afternoon visit with our pal, Les, who now lives in downtown Hamilton) is that Hamilton may only be an hour from Toronto but it exists as its own place. One never need go to Toronto unless there was a specific reason to do so. The people we met, with their moving, full life stories, were in no way tethered to Toronto. It was Hamilton, with its jobs and industries, that drew them to Canada or Ontario, and it was Hamilton where they raised families and where they continue to live.
The woman from Croatia, who also was blind yet knit up a storm, was very happy to encounter Sonya because she could speak German as well as Croatian and English. At one point she began to inquire into Sonya's personal life - did she have a boyfriend, etc. When the response came back negative, she immediately said, "too bad you can not stay longer - I would take you to the German Club where you could meet a nice man!" Then, as we were leaving the building, we saw yoga classes being conducted, a ukulele band practicing and volley ball teams playing. Sonya turned to me and said, in all seriousness, "I want to come back here!"