Walking in Markham
February 23, 2014
Driving north on Reesor Road in Markham, I caught sight of some abandoned buildings that exerted a magnetic pull on my car. Two feet of snow still blanketed everything, but I couldn’t resist getting out and trudging through the drifts to take a closer look.
Despite not being dressed for exploration (sneakers – so smart), I searched for the lowest point of entry, and dove right in…to mid-thigh. My heart rate increased with each step, since I couldn’t tell whether sharp objects or a body of water lay beneath the sea of snow.
(minor ankle injury here)
There was surprisingly little inside the buildings to indicate anyone had flopped, partied, or otherwise abused the premises. The way it’s falling apart is just incredibly cool.
Wet and cold, with snow now packed tightly inside my shoes, it was time to trace my steps back to my car. I’m not sure boots would have made much difference with the drifts this high….snowshoes would have been the right way to go. I can’t wait to revisit this place in warmer weather, though I’ll be able to see what I was actually walking through.
Instead of turning south for home, I turned north for a quick trip down memory lane that was only a few minutes up the road. In the summer of 1993, while I was studying photography at Ryerson, a classmate and I signed up to be photography instructors at Camp Robin Hood.
This was back in the days of film and prints, so we’d used one of the barns to set up a rudimentary darkroom. It was pretty cool teaching kids about the processes; making nature-themed photograms with the little ones, and taking the older ones around camp with shared cameras. The photography barn was next to the softball field, and we had a common room with sofas and a t.v. that counsellors could watch between classes. Needless to say, the boys coaching softball spent a fair bit of time hanging out with us. It didn’t pay well, but made for an interesting summer.
Somehow twenty years have passed since I stepped onto the grounds, but the area we used still looks much the same.
The photography barn is still standing in the back, now decorated with a sign labelling it “Coaches Corner”. Looks like those softball guys have repurposed our darkroom! The camp recently celebrated 50 years with the same owners, Larry and Pearl Bell and their family. I doubt that photography is still one of the specialties, but it was great to see at least some things haven’t changed.