November 27, 2016

Old Walkerville. A Rose Without a Thorn.

We like to call our neighbourhood Old Walkerville.  Although not that old (it was established in the mid19th century) it is old enough for us.  Or is it?  A snug corporate village surrounded by everything post war and modern.  One of Windsor's rarest and most famous flowers.  Behind the symmetry of our neatly organized town with tree lined streets residents harbour a division.  A war of words.  A rift between the words "old and olde".  Around here we often see written and displayed references like Ye Olde Walkerville, Ye Old Walkerville Bed and Breakfast and so on.  The problem is that Ye is spelled and pronounced wrong and the word Olde never existed in pre-modern English.  The proper words used in pre-modern English were auld, alde, awld and ole.  Olde was used to simply evoke pre-modern English somewhere around the turn of the 19th century.  As an advertising gimmick no less.  Somehow it's use caught on and  eventually became the word myth that it is today.   That is the first problem with our old corporate town.  The second is "ye".  The actual meaning of ye in pre-modern English is the plural form of "you".   The "ye" in Ye Old Sandwich is supposed to mean "the".  So where did all of this English business go wrong?  Well...There was a time when our alphabet contained about a dozen more letters.  The language gods made those go away but a real sticky one was the letter "thorn". 

Pronounced like "th".  In fact the letter thorn þ was the pre-cursor of the th-sound.  So þe meant "the".   
But ye sounds like yee.  How did that become "the"?  Funny one should ask.  As the English language modernized through spates of change,  the printers had some sway.  When they eventually ordered new type sets the letter thorn was not included.  As a quick substitute they used the letter "Y" in it's place.  Everyone knew it was a cheap knock off of thorn and accepted it as was.  But it eventually did go away.  Thorn did. After time people just started to call it as they saw it. Ye, pronounced Yee and not quite grasping it's real meaning (you plural).  To them, now us, it means "The".  So we continue the argument:  Are we Ye Olde Walkerville or are we simply Old Walkerville?  Do we stay in places like Ye Olde Walkerville Bed and Breakfast or do we prefer something a little more chic?  Ye better figure it out before someone commits another typo.

August 19, 2016

Monmouth Road Home for Sale

882 Monmouth Road, 
Old Walkerville/Windsor, Ontario.  N8Y 3L4

Designed by Albert Kahn - Mason-Rice.

Lot size:  130' deep X 23.5' wide.  End unit. 
Style:  Edwardian/Victorian Terrace.
Bathrooms:  1.5 featuring Whirlpool bath.
Bedrooms:  2
Flooring:  Hardwood, ceramic, carpet.
Foundation:  Triple row brick.
Exterior finish:  Double row brick - British Standard.
Heating type:  Natural gas (New 96.4% efficient).    
Cooling type:  Central a/c.
Hot water:  New high efficient tank-less hot water.
Landscaping:  Trees, shrubs, lawn, mixed gardens.

Click on the following link for more details:

Old Walkerville background

Old Walkerville's spirited history dates back to 1858 when Hiram Walker built his whisky distillery on several hundred acres adjacent to the Canadian/southern shore of the Detroit River.  It is also, by chance, Canada's southernmost corporate town.  
To house his workers, Walker enveloped his distillery with a town inspired by the British Garden City Movement.  Typical of that genre it incorporated expansive streets, open public spaces and colourful gardens.  It also had its own post office, police and fire departments, hotels, schools and churches.  Today Old Walkerville remains a closely bound community where it is not unusual to see neighbours working together on all manner of projects.  
Old Walkerville has two retail thoroughfares:  Wyandotte Street to the north and Ottawa Street at it's southern boundary.  Both Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) are seeded with popular cafes, restaurants, shops, banks and markets.  Walker Road which frames its eastern boundary is just now seeing a conversion from industrial to retail.  Residents and visitors alike are very familiar with the pleasant, yeasty scent of Walker's fermented grain mash that is always wafting throughout the area.

The Homes

Elegant houses ranging from 3500 square feet and upward were built for company administration and include Victorian and Edwardian styles along with Tudor and Romanesque Revivals.  More modest Arts and Crafts dwellings, constructed for Walker's labourers, are equally well preserved and dot the community.  Blocks of period row terraces and semi-detached homes are detailed with decorative masonry, parapets and front or end gables.

Why Purchase a Home in Old Walkerville?

The 16 acre Willistead Park and it's Manor along with the popular and thriving business areas that frame the area ensure it's sustainability.  The mere twenty minute walk to Windsor's downtown via Wyandotte Street or along scenic Riverside Drive is another plus. One cannot forget the short stroll to Via Italia with all of its popular shops and restaurants either.  The annual Art in the Park and night markets along Wyandotte are also hugely favoured.

Homes in Old Walkerville are always in high demand and when they show up on the market they turn over quickly.  With it's deep history, enchanting architecture, interesting municipal footprint and close proximity to parks, the Detroit River, Windsor's downtown and yes Detroit, Old Walkerville is the quintessential urban example.  

July 31, 2016

Walkerville History Uncovered only to be Buried Again

Century Old Walkerville cobbles discovered after stripping asphalt away.  Click to enlarge. 

Niagra Street is currently in the process of getting a much needed face lift.  Newer curbs were installed over a decade ago and the street has been on the short list for new asphalt for almost as long.  The Giorgi construction crew uncovered the well preserved, original road pavers that date back to Hiram Walker's day in his corporate town known as Walkerville.  Over twenty years ago when Monmouth Road was resurfaced the same pavers were under a concrete decked road along with rails from an old trolley line that connected Wyandotte and Ottawa streets.  Also unearthed were the original wooden mash pipes (lathed from water resistant cypress wood) that transported grain mash from the distillery on Riverside Drive all the way out to Walker Farms on the northern edge of Windsor Airport.

     Several Monmouth Roadies asked if they could have some of the pavers for landscaping projects but were told by the contractor that the bricks will once again be covered over with asphalt.  Not the best solution for asphalt longevity but no one is complaining because the much needed pavement will quiet down the continuous noise assault from the rattling undercarriages of vehicular traffic.

The same pavers  from Monmouth Road used for landscaping projects.
      If the city of Windsor wants to contribute a much needed  and cost effective neighbourhood improvement they might take this opportunity (while the contractor is there) to cut the pavement out of the south boulevard between Monmouth and Walker to bring it back to it's original grassed and treed glory (see upper left corner of road picture).  This would make the gateway to Willistead Park from Walker Road that much more inviting by reestablishing the tree'd and grassed boulevard that were originally there.  It would also reduce some serious heat island issues.

     Hot asphalt will be laid down starting tomorrow.  If you want to witness history come and go again head over to Niagra Street between Walker and Monmouth Roads.  Although the old street pavers still appear to be in good form they are not.  Their composition is a compressed slurry of what appears to be slag (perhaps from an ancient foundry).  They are gritty, full of cracks and crumble easily.  They have been paved over at least a couple of times before and the asphalt life cycle under that condition seems to be about 25 years.  The pavement develops cracks that establish along the bond pattern of the original bricks.  We can expect this to happen yet again.  Hopefully the next time they repave Niagra Street they will pull them up as they did on Monmouth and put in a new and proper road bed that will foster a better half life.

     Niagra is a very utilitarian street that services not only Old Walkerville but all of the neighbourhoods between Walker and Howard Avenues.  It is an east/west thoroughfare which brings locals to work and back every day.  It is heavily used.   Neighbours who live along the street will tell you that it is noisy with traffic, especially because of the poor condition of the road over the last decade or so.  They will also tell you that although the brick bonded streets are charming and interesting to see, the more modern and much quieter paving material is preferred.  "Kind of like our historical homes" one neighbour said.  "We work very hard at maintaining the historical nature but we are also not afraid to use more modern, safer and efficient materials where they count."   Some pragmatic words.