Saturday, August 16, 2008

Late summer thoughts

One of Steven's shots of
St. Clair Avenue
A major Toronto street during
the blackout of August 14, 2003

Five years ago, on August 14, Toronto experienced a
lengthy blackout. I was at my friend Jennifer's place,
and we were drinking a cup of tea, when her husband
Michael told us the power was out in the area.

Thinking nothing of it, I got in my car to go home
and walk the dog, and that's when I found out this
was much bigger than a little foul up in Rosedale.
In fact it was a massive power failure that darkened
Ontario and much of the United States northeast that day.

When I got to Yonge street near Merton, taking my
usual deke route home, trying to avoid the St. Clair
rush hour the problem became real. Thousands of
stranded subway riders were walking home in all
directions. People always say Torontonians are cold,
but I didn't see that. All of the motorists were offering
people rides. Of course traffic was moving at a snail's pace,
but I drove some people home that day.

Pretty Flash in
Cedarvale Park
August 14, 2003

In the park we listened to the rumours running
rampant among dog walkers trying to figure out
what caused the blackout. We had a laugh with
Astrid, who was walking her lovely new Border
Collie, Flash. Then we wandered down to Amato's
on St. Clair, a pizza place that was running its
gas ovens without the electric fans required
by law, and doing a booming business.

The now defunct Amato's pizza took a
safety risk to feed the neighbourhood.

We ran into the whole neighbourhood there,
but especially Joan and Richard, and the four
of us decided to carry our pizza picnic to a nearby
little park and eat under the stars.

Me (left) with Joan and Richard
Everybody's happy.

That was the real miracle, a dark sky studded
with thousands of stars, because there were
no lights, except the candles people lit
cautiously in their houses and on their

Car lights on darkened St. Clair
August 14, 2003.

We visited with friends nearby, and then
walked home to sit on our garden bench
and enjoy the marvel of the night.

More car lights on dark St. Clair
August 14, 2003
by Steven van Schaik

In the morning our friends Cathy and Chris
invited us for breakfast. They were using
their barbecue and had coffee!!! By lunch time
the whole thing was over, but it remains in
our memory as a wonderful time.

That doesn't mean we want it to happen
again. We were lucky that our fridge
full of groceries stayed cool. But it
was a lot of fun at the time.

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Portrait Artist

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I paint and draw on commission and for shows. To commission a portrait, or purchase one of my paintings please contact me at:
A major highlight in my career? Drawing Oprah Winfrey live via Skype for her show "Where in the Skype are you? Galleries: Studio Vogue Gallery, Toronto, Canada. The Amsterdam Whitney Gallery, New York City. Gallery at the Porch Door, Kingston, Canada. Your positive comments on this blog mean the world to me. I'd love to hear from you!