Field Report from St.Catharines

street banners

Danielle and I have been in St.Catharines at Brock University working with an Ecopsychology class on a public art project (details to follow in coming week(s). We’re only here for a few days to help get the class started, but it’s been incredibly fun working with a bunch of strangers. We’ve explored the campus and the downtown and what I offer you here is a brief report on our findings.

Above is one of many, many banners on streetlight poles, highlighting a number of community members. It would seem that some iteration of this in Windsor would be a no-brainer—and I know it’s been brought up before in conversations, but new banners and some input on the Christmas-themed light sculptures that adorn our streetlight poles in the winter would be a welcomed change.

community board

The downtown itself is a funny mix—it feels on the verge of being vibrant, but during the summer most places close early or don’t open at all. This is truly a university town, where the students seem to almost entirely drive the economy. There’s a rather large number of vacant storefronts, but there’s a decent mix of shopping and restaurants and bars, with apartments above all of them, to make it seem kind of livable. This community board above in particular caught my eye, again likely a sign of a dead place without students, though remnants of a drunken night are on the other side where a downtown map is under shattered glass.

public art

This is public art in St.Catharines, or rather, what public art from the 1980s looks like on the campus of Brock University. The campus itself is sprawling and hugs the Bruce Trail, which winds itself around the escarpment and a wondrous forest. Though much the architecture is what you’d expect for a small university campus—late 1960s/1970s modernist architecture, with confusing layouts, awful interior paints and a sort of assholish sensibility. It’s a nice enough place, the amount of green space really helps you feel a bit better in general, but I suppose we’re also missing a key ingredient in understanding how the place works on a regular basis, that is, a student body. It was encouraging to find out though that not only does Brock have an 8-month bus pass built into its tuition, but that students think it’s the best $150 they could possibly spend.

Windsor Archives

a map of Windsor

I went to the Windsor Archives at the downtown Windsor Public Library with Lee Rodney’s Border Culture class on Thursday. The city’s archives are uninsured and sit in the basement, in the same room as the water main for the building, with some record books, maps, and architectural drawings un-boxed and unprotected, though most looked to be in acid-free (though certainly not water-proof) boxes.

The map above was one of the many articles from the archive we got to see, and I think it dates to sometime in the 1950s. Interestingly, there are these areas marked as abandoned, and it made me think back to our beginnings at a Google map that marked out, among many things, some of the abandoned properties (in particular, the abandoned big-box stores).

I’m curious as to why these areas were ever marked as abandoned, though unfortunately I didn’t note what kind of map this was. If anyone has any guesses, let me know.

So, the Windsor Archives are a really interesting place if you’ve never been, and the archivist that we met with seemed very eager to help with researching. With over 10,000 photos alone, on top of thousands upon thousands of other documents, I think it’s worth exploring further.

They also accept contributions.

BCL Report – Nov 1, 2008

In preparation of our upcoming Tetris Tournament / Wheat Paste Demo / Sticker Making Party, we had made a list of supplies and had set out to find the goods at (what we thought) was an obvious choice—Value Village. At the top of our list was a hot plate, Tetris for SNES, and supplies for making a trophy. However, after nearly 4 hours of searching, those things remain on our list… instead we found other treasures…

Continue reading “BCL Report – Nov 1, 2008”