Making McCauley My Home

For my first 18 years of life, home for me was a townhouse in St. Albert owned by my parents. I really couldn’t have picked a more perfect place for a young person to grow up. Across the back alley was a playground, an elementary school, and a junior high school, both of which I attended for the first nine years of my schooling. It was so nice to be able to always go home for lunch and watch The Flintstones on CTV every weekday.

Across the alley and down a small hill was a soccer field, further on a baseball field, and much parkland, including acres of undeveloped forest. There were endless glorious quests for victory in the football games my friends and I would play, and when I played soccer for one year and my team beat all the other teams in our small city except the rep team.

Even cold winter days were fun, going sliding on the hills around the schools or playing King of the Castle on the piles of snow that were collected by the school parking lots. Last, but definitely not least, was the outdoor pool three blocks away.

It is funny, but even with all that I was restless and often unhappy. I will always remember being able to look out the upstairs windows in our townhouse and being able to see the hospital I was born in. I longed for the adventures I had seen on TV and read in the numerous books I had read.

I went through a lot, transitioning from being a St. Albert resident to a McCauley resident. In between there were times I lived in Vancouver, times I was homeless, and many different apartments that I kept moving from thinking it would improve my poor mental health to have a change. When I finally got to McCauley, I was taught something about how a neighborhood – a collection of houses of glass, nails, and wood – was something far different from a community: a collection of people who work together and interact to make something greater than the individual parts.

Moving here and taking part in the community meant a lot. Now, I was no longer isolated in a small apartment. I shared a house in a housing project and it took so much pressure off and truly eased my depressive tendencies. I would play sports with others in the community, something I had been unable to do since high school for lack of knowing where to go for sports or who to ask about getting to them.

I went through a profound change over the next 16 years. St. Albert was such a nice place, but the fact was it wasn’t a place for me anymore. It’s hard to live in the suburbs without a lot of support. I now have a great apartment for a very reasonable price. I have a place I can take pride in keeping clean and presentable not just for my landlord, but for my friends to come over any time they like. In the mornings I go to Spinelli’s Café and most of the time don’t have to say my breakfast order anymore – they just put it on and take my money.

McCauley has so much to offer I could never find in the other places I have lived. Incredible people like Gary Garrison and his partner Sara, both writers who help me in many different ways to pursue my chosen career as a writer. There are many others within just blocks who help and inspire me, too many to mention. I also have to admit I love the cultural restaurants here, and so many ones pop up that I can’t wait to try them all.

I may one day move back to St. Albert. I was born there and I still have enough friends to make a go of it, but for now McCauley is home and where I choose to live from deep in my heart.

Leif is a writer of fiction and non-fiction. Seven of his paperbacks and four of his ebooks are available through the Edmonton Public Library.

More in this issue

Neighbourhood Views

  • Ukrainian Community Easter Celebration – On March 17 and 18, the exhibition of archive photos “History of UNF, UWO & UNYF in Pictures” took place at the Ukrainian National Federation Hall located at 10629 98 Street. The exhibition featured photographs from 1934 to 2012. Pictured above is the youth ensemble Dzherelo during a concert featuring young performers. Mykola Vorotylenko

  • Fuel for Hunger Feeds Thousands – Moe Duval (front) and his crew of volunteers served chili lunches on the street by Bissell Centre and other inner city locations every Sunday during the winter months. The group, which is not affiliated with any agency, made the chili them- selves and served about 6500 bowls of chili between December and March (approximately 500 bowls each Sunday). For more information, search for “Fuel for Hunger” on Facebook. Jim Gurnett

  • Ukrainian Community Easter Celebration – On March 17 and 18, the exhibition of archive photos “History of UNF, UWO & UNYF in Pictures” took place at the Ukrainian National Federation hall located at 10629 98 Street. The Ukrainian National Federation (UNF) celebrated its 85th anniversary last year, and on March 23, 2018 the Ukrainian Women’s Organization (UWO) celebrated its 85th anniversary. The exhibition featured photographs from 1934 to 2012. Pictured above are participants in a watercolour workshop by artist Valeriy Semenko (front, kneeling). Mykola Vorotylenko

  • Thanking the Plows – 110 Avenue in McCauley, between 92 Street and 95 Street, is very narrow because it was one of the first streets in Edmonton to have houses built along it. So, in the winter, the plows have nowhere to move the snow to but onto the sidewalk. When the snow began to melt this spring, it made huge puddles on the sidewalks, which turned to ice at night and made the road so narrow it was almost impassible. Joanne called the City and asked for their help to move the ice and snow. A few days later, two snowplows arrived and did an excellent job of cleaning up the spring mess. She wrote and thanked them for their work, and her photos are being included in a City employee newspaper, along with her thanks. It never hurts to say thank you when people do a great job! Joanne McNeal

  • Pets: A Part of Home – One part of “home” for me, is the pets we keep as part of our family. They provide love, affection, joy, and hope when we need it most. My two rescue dogs keep me walking when I don’t even feel like going outside, because they love to go for walks. Last month, I lost one of my rescued cats, Charlie, who I named after my grandfather. He was only about eight years old, but a month or so ago his breathing became laboured, and he began to lose weight. He never complained - he just wanted to sit on my lap and be stroked, so we did that. He died on Saturday night, April 7. My home feels so different without him. I took this photo of him in March, and to me he looks unwell even then. Poor little guy. I miss him. Joanne McNeal

  • Speaking Truth to Power – The annual Outdoor Way of the Cross took place on March 30 (Good Friday). Around 300 people took part in the walk, with numbers down a bit due to the cold weather - the coldest temperatures in the walk’s 39-year history. This year’s theme was “Speaking truth to power,” a Quaker saying used in the 50s and 60s in anti-war activities (and based on Jesus saying “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”). Stations looked at housing security, Truth and Rec- onciliation recommendations, police/courts/prisons, the environment, working people, and older people/isolation. For the first time, the Cross was carried past the new Royal Alberta Museum building. Michael Hoyt

Around the Neighbourhood

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