In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

One score

I was listening to CBC Radio One on my way to work this morning. They were profiling photographer Justin Wonnacott because he’s exhibiting his photographs at the Bytown Museum. His photos were all taken on or around Somerset Street since he moved to Ottawa. He said that was about thirty years ago. I thought, “Wow, thirty years ago! That’s a long time.”

Not being native to Ottawa, my mind wandered to my own situation. With more than a little start, I realized that the twentieth anniversary of my moving to town is this very year. In fact, I took possession of my first apartment in town twenty years and one month ago today, exactly.

I came because I needed a job. All through my three years of college, I worked part-time at the Niagara Falls Imax Theatre. Brett, then my boss and now my friend, hired me and I stayed on after he left for greener pastures with Imax Corporation. I did not want to stay at the theatre as there was no future there, career-wise. It was a wonderful summer job, but with the way the place was run, that’s all it was. Steve, the Imax service guy who was tasked with taking care of our projector, happened to mention that a new theatre was being installed in the soon to open Canadian Museum of Civilization. Thinking about my options, I started to look into contacting the people in charge. Given that this was before the Internet, I really have no idea how I found the theatre manager’s name and contact information.

But find it I did, and after sending him a letter with my resume, I called him once a week. Once a week, every week. He brought me up for an interview, and later joked that it was just to stop me calling. I eventually got the good news and my mother was quite surprised that I was really going. She said, “You’re moving that far for $26,000 a year?” Given that I had few prospects in my hometown, my course seemed obvious.

A few months before my start date, I went up for the weekend to get an apartment. I had just two days in a strange city to find a place to live, but I did it. Clutching a signed lease, I went back home to start packing. When the time came for the actual move, I recruited my friend Des. He drove the Daybo rental truck and I followed my own car. Jacquelin, my girlfriend at the time, came as well. When we arrived they helped me unload everything and soon had to get back on the road to get the truck, and themselves, back. We exchanged goodbyes, I closed the door, and turned around to a room full of boxes in my apartment.

Twenty years ago! Where does the time go?


Cypher me this…


The Pen, reincarnated


  1. Brett

    20 years ago?
    sheesh, you’re makin’ me feel old…

  2. If you want to talk about when you hired me, it’s more like twenty-three…and a half! 🙂

  3. Jonathan

    Yes, but where was the apt.?

    What was your “hood”?

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