After work I hung around for awhile in Scotia Plaza, ate dinner and read a bit because Kevin had too much work to do and couldn’t meet me before our classes started. I managed to struggle through a few more pages of The [Insipid] Da Vinci Code [I find this book so boring and I can’t understand it’s popularity] so it was okay, if a little lonely. Then I grabbed the subway and headed over to the school. I was early so I sat on a bench feeling too scattered to read and just watched the neighbourhood dogs play. There was a very sweet pit bull running around with some Goldens and I felt very sorry for her because it can’t be much fun when you’re the only one wearing a muzzle. Eventually Kevin showed up and we sat there talking for a few minutes about Hamilton (I had just sussed out the job/salary situation at the university for future reference) and other things, then I said screw it! I’m not going into that class. "It’s too hot in there and I hate it when the teacher gets all up in my face with his nasty-ass coffee breath," I whined.
Kevin refrained from comment, which was awfully nice of him (and also rare). So then he went to his class and I decided to walk a different route than I normally would and I thought about going to Honest Ed’s because that’s kind of a fun place to wander around in when you find yourself suddenly with some free time. At any rate, I wanted to avoid walking by Trove since all their things are so pretty and girly and it’s that time of the year when I am inspired to buy things that are pretty and girly. Unfortunately, avoiding Trove put me squarely in the path of a little used book store. I’d never been in, so I said to myself, "I’ll just look." And yea, we all know how that ended up.
It’s pretty dumb to skip classes that you’ve paid for but still the slow sifting through the shelves, the sun slanting through the back window of the shop, the quirky Dixieland (frigging Dixieland, for Pete’s sake!) playing on the stereo – well it was all so perfectly delicious. I only picked up a couple of books (The Bell Jar, The Sound and the Fury) that I’d been meaning to read for awhile anyway so I was feeling pretty cheeky about managing to keep myself in check by the time I wandered over the the history section hoping to find a copy of While Canada Slept. There weren’t any, still too new I suppose, but something else caught my attention – "McKellar Memories" by Evelyn Watkins Moore (the original 1987 edition signed, "Best wishes, Evelyn").
McKellar is a village in northern Ontario. I grew up in a hamlet called Dunchurch, in the township of Hagerman (now the municipality of Whitestone) which borders the township of McKellar. All that background to say: What the fuck was this book doing in the Annex? I thought it was pretty weird. It couldn’t have had a particularly wide circulation even when it was originally published. It was all a bit much so I found a milk crate to sit on and ran my finger down the list of family names listed in the table of contents. Moore, Thompson, Taylor, Moffat, Jackson – all names of childhood friends – and then a name from a branch of my own family. Whitmell. I breathlessly turned to page 376 but didn’t find any reference to my great grandparents (I had to remind myself I was looking at a book about a different village) though it did mention Mary Cowan, my elementary school prinicpal’s mom. I had to smile as I considered how different my upbringing must have been to that of my city friends.
So I sat there for awhile deliberating about this stupid book. I didn’t really want to buy it since it wasn’t about my home, and my family wasn’t really in it and this guy John we know has written a ton about Dunchurch AND our family anyway so what the hell else could "McKellar Memories" have to add to my life? Plus it was $25! I mean that’s just ridiculous, you can’t tell me the history of McKellar is that hot a topic for the downtown Toronto audience. For about the hundredth time I wished I hadn’t gotten rid of my cell phone because then I could ask my mom, an amateur geneologist, if it would be any use to her. Still debating and flipping through the pages for anything of relevance to me, I snagged on this sentence:
Her mother died when she was born and Annie was baptized over her mother’s casket.
I just felt like I couldn’t leave it there after reading that, as if I had to rescue these families that are a part of my past. Still a country girl after all.