Someone recently asked me "Is it scary to live in the North End?" I smirked and will share my reply with you.
First off, no it is not scary. Yes, it has a reputation for being filled with crime, violence, and poverty… but what area doesn’t have negative notions?
The North End is a huge, multicultural area. People of different ethnicities are store owners, own restaurants, run credit unions and small business and participate in community sports and activities.
We’re also the home of a lot of history in our area such as the Seven Oaks Museum, which was built by John Inkster, an immigrant from Scotland, in 1851-1853. The museum is on the grounds of the Battle of Seven Oaks.
Selkirk Avenue used to be ‘downtown’ for the area. There were countless German, Polish, Jewish and Ukrainian shops — from hardware stores to optometrists, dentists to bookstores, furriers to grocery stores. Most of these buildings still stand today, with new occupants now creating lives for themselves. There are also new educational facilities on the street. On the surface, Selkirk Avenue may look run down but even Prince Charles believes in the new renewal plan for the area.
These rundown buildings, streets, and even the broken fire hydrant on my street don’t run our spirits down. We still have our hope and we are growing — there are new shops popping up in Riverbend, new families in the area, and expanding youth and activity centres.
Our personality also grows and reduces our negative reputation. For example, an informal parking sign at the IGA on Main Street and Jefferson Avenue has been written on a he old post office door facing Enniskillen Avenue. It reads, in permanent marker, "Please No Parkin’ Thanks".
The missing G in the sign is just fun and people seem to respect the sign.
Another example of how we are innovative is a sink hole I saw in the IGA parking lot. It was initially covered by an upside down shopping cart, then wooden pallets were propped against the cart and caution tape was wrapped around the pallets. It remained this way for months until it was properly fixed.
It’s these small things and little gestures that help make the North End. We aren’t scared of our neighbours, we enjoy our picture-perfect gardens (minus the neighbours who never do yardwork or cut their grass) and gather at local hotspots to talk over the sounds of sirens.
Christina Hryniuk is a community correspondent for the North End.