I moved to McCauley in the fall of 1976, a young, idealistic urbanite who had never gardened. A group of people rented a house on 95 Street and 106a Avenue. Our landlord, who emigrated from Italy, knew the value of the land. The back yard was all garden. He gave us a huge zucchini as a welcome present. The next year we wanted to garden. He wasn’t so sure about us and only gave us a little patch of the garden. We had to prove ourselves first and show him that we knew how to take care of the land. We took up the challenge.
The next door neighbours had emigrated from the Ukraine. Every bit of soil grew either food or flowers. Several years later, I had married and moved to 92 Street, but always travelled up and down 95 Street. I would see the old woman bending over, picking weeds and wave. Over the winter, the old man died and she had one last season in her garden before her family moved her to a nursing home. I drove by one morning in September and saw that their house was being knocked down and the garden destroyed. I quickly returned home, and came back with a shovel and dug up some of the late blooming flowers. The old woman’s flowers still bloom in my own backyard garden and I think of her.
When we moved into our home as newlyweds 37 years ago, the entire back yard was garden. We turned the smaller patch into a lawn because we wanted our children to have a place to play. Our garden has delighted and fed us throughout the years. My husband grew up on a farm east of Edmonton and became a city gardener. He nurtures the soil, turning it over by hand in the fall, working in the compost and preparing the land for the seeds of the next season.
- Kate Quinn
One of my early memories of moving to McCauley in the late 1970s was walking down the back lanes and seeing all the beautiful vegetable gardens. It was an inspiration for me to have my own backyard garden. With some exceptions, vegetable gardening seemed to fall out of favour for many years, and I noticed the decline as I walked around. Now, it’s great to see a new generation experiencing the joys of growing your own food, whether in your own back yard, or a community garden.