Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mini-Break to New York! (Well..)

 St John's Presbyterian Church Cornwall Ontario.

It was a sunny Saturday and I had a hankering to go puttering around Greenwich Village. But I can't take off to New York City on on whim. I can, however, take off to New York, Messina New York, across the border from Cornwall Ontario. It's about50 kilometers, a long toll bridge and a border crossing away.

It's no New York City, but hey.

Prime Minister Harper seems to want Canadians to do more cross border shopping, to help out those depressed places on the American side of the border. With all their Walmarts.

Many of my friends regularly do, even for day trips to buy cheaper milk and cheese. Quebeckers pay more for dairy products than anyone in the universe.

Myself not so often. But I wanted to see New York. So I packed our passports in my purse and started out the door.

The dogs, though, appeared to be reading me wrong. They thought they were going. So we packed them in the car. No border. Just Cornwall. And a walk along the water, under the long bridge, with the dogs. A mini-break smellcation for them. And we went to their giant Walmart, ick, to buy a dressing gown for  my father in law's 92nd birthday today. (I'm going to take a Silkwood Shower today.  I hate that store with its mountains of cheap clothes, 12 dollar dresses? just one wear from the landfill already.) Taking over the world. De-charming the universe. Making a hypocrit of me.

 I am writing my book Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, about Edith Nicholson, my husband's great aunt, based on real letters. Her fiance, Charlie Gagne died in the 1910 Rossmore Hotel Fire. It's the follow up to me ebook Threshold Girl about a college girl in 1911/12, the Titanic Era.

I read in a 1926 Ottawa Citizen article that the Rossmore was situated where the Bank of Montreal was in 1936. On Pitt Street.

So I went to that place, on Pitt between 1st and 2nd and there was a plaque in front of the building. Was it to commemorate the fatal fire? No, the plaque said that the bank was built over the original site of the Presbyterian Church. The church above on 2nd, around the corner, that was built in 1890's.

No mention of what was on the site between that time and the time the bank was built in the 30's.

If the 1936 Ottawa Citizen article is correct, then someone is deliberately trying to forget the fact that a fatal fire happened on that site in 1910, that killed Charlie Gagne, a bank of Montreal clerk. But maybe the Rossmore was located somewhere else. A building beside the Bank has a 1895 inscription at top. That would mean it survived the fire. So I don't get it.Anyway, the hotel was somewhere in that 2 block area.

But Charlie lives on in my book. I'm playing with history, even if the story is based on letters. Charlie had a mysterious end. He went to Mexico, returned and got transferred to Cornwall and then died in a fire,his body identified only by a tie pin nearby.

Why? Opium! That's how I explain it.