Friday, April 11, 2008
London, Ontario, April 2008 [Click to enlarge]
Over three-and-a-half years ago, I took this picture of our two eldest kids next to a building that was in the process of being demolished. At the time, I called the entry Modern ruins. Unlike most demolitions, this one ended strangely: the wreckers eventually stopped wrecking, and a half-derelict structure of concrete, brick and emptiness stands to this day, casting featureless shadows over the adjacent pothole- and gravel-strewn parking lot.
As I continued my walkabout of the city in search of memorable scenes within conventionally forgettable landscapes (see here, here, and here for past entries from this series) I stopped in front of this structure and remembered the first time the three of us came across it. Like so many buildings in London's downtown, it slowly decays while absentee owners wait for the elements to inevitably render them irreparable.
Unlike this building, it doesn't seem to have much of a heritage to it. I doubt most of the downtown workers who leave their cars there during the week ever bother to give it a second look. But some buildings wear their uniqueness a little more subtly. It may not have arches, gargoyles, flourishes or art deco trim, but I'm sure it's got its own story, and may yet have life ahead of it if someone - the unseen owner, perhaps - decides there's money to be made by investing in renewal.
Ownership intentions aside, this seemingly derelict structure taught my kids an early lesson in the impermanence of the world around us. So despite its forgettable facade and its seeming disconnection from the urban flow around it, it still means something to me.
Your turn: What defines "heritage" anyway?
One more thing: My mother celebrates her birthday today. With my father ailing at home, she's celebrating quietly. May your future milestones be happy ones, Mom.