A Spike and A Naked Woman

My Sunday morning was going to include a walk along the old railway tracks in search of some history. A souvenir. I wanted a spike. Loose ones were hard to find so I was prepared for a long trek. The land that makes up the Arbutus Corridor had been sold and the railway was being removed.

My quest would start where I’ve walked for years. The short distance between 33rdth and 37th in Kerrisdale. The route follows alongside Quilchena Cresent’s back alley. It’s secluded and offers some amazing views.

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I didn’t expect to find a naked woman sprawled across the tracks and a photographer perched above her. He took a shot then looked my way. I hurried past and told her not to get arrested. She shrugged. Of course I angled my phone to capture a picture as I walked away.

Then just around the bend I spotted a huge yellow excavator. The dismantling had begun.

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History was being unmade.

Kerrisdale is my home and the only reason it exists was the train stop at 41st. In 1905, the Railway manager, R.H. Sterling, asked Mrs. William McKinnon to name the station. She was from Kerrysdale near Gairloch, Scotland and suggested “Kerry’s Dale”, which quickly became Kerrisdale. I love that my home is named after a place in the Scottish Highlands. It makes me smile.

Remnants of the station still remain at the original intersection.

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Years ago, someone hung a bundle of white Christmas lights on top of one of the power poles between the alley and the track. When you’re very young and out for an evening adventure the glow was magical. We always said that fairies played there and the lights were their home. Years later I found out Kerrydale means “little seat of the fairies.”

No wonder I wanted to steal a piece of this place. And I wanted to find a spike close to where the fairies lived. I still believe in the magic.

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The rest of my day was spent watching the rails being pulled off the ties. The contraption underneath the excavator forced the rails up and pried the spikes free. Every few feet massive nuts had to be unscrewed and sometimes even the sledgehammer came into play. The process was much quicker than you would expect.

To stand near the tracks and be so close to the process was exhilarating. The sound. The vibration. The destruction. Here’s a little taste of what would happen…


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A few hours later and they were done.


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I’m not good with change so this morning’s walk along the same route made me sad.

All the ties had been removed and the rail remnants hauled away. The nostalgia was gone. I can already imagine the walkers and bikes and noise.

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Everyone will love this path… but the fairies will not be seen again.

Maybe their spirit will live in this rusty old spike?

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Special thanks to Corey and Curtis for indulging me as they worked.

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And as for that naked woman… did you really have to do this?

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Behind Closed Doors

I love my apartment building. We are our own little neighbourhood.

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It helps that we’re also in Kerrisdale, a perfect, throwback, mid-scale, little part of Vancouver.

You get to know your neighbours. People come and people go. Some, like me, have been here for years. We chat in the laundry room, parking lot and stairwells. At Christmas I invite most of the tenants to my open house.

Most of the tenants.

I will never invite the people that live right next door to me. And luckily, they never read my blog.

He looks like an upscale businessman. He’s not. She’s his mother. They’re always very polite when we pass in the hall. She speaks in a whisper.

A few times a month, behind their closed door, they scream at each other like two deranged banshees. Shrieks of accusations. Raging condemnations. It goes on for hours.

I can hear them from my bathroom.

So I know their little secret. They hate each other.

In this building we tend to look out for the people around us.

Jack lived on the second floor and was in a wheelchair. A friendly chap. Once when the fire alarm went off we all ended up in the lobby. It only took seconds for two men to turn and head back up the stairs to carry Jack down. It was a false alarm but from then on we put a system in place as to who would make sure Jack was OK in an emergency. I liked that we did that. It’s what your neighbours should do.

We also share books in the laundry room library.

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Someone has hung “paintings” in the carport.

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For a few weeks we had a lady living under the tree by the side of our building. It was well protected and she just “moved” in. Oddly enough we were all respectful of her space. When the weather turned, someone found her a better place to stay.

There’s a generous on-going dose of common courtesies.

People come and people go. Some people stay for years and years. Jack got sick and died.

We old-timers rate the newbie’s but we’re also quick to welcome them in.

Yelling neighbours, well they’ve taught me that you never really know what goes on in someone’s home when their door is closed… and locked.

We all have secrets. The way we act. What we think. Things that make us mad. Things that give us our greatest joy. And the people we choose to hate.

I swear I haven’t looked the mother or son straight in the eye since I heard the first yelling match.

I’m afraid they would know I know.

And how could I live with that?

Or worse… how could they.

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