I live in Brampton Ontario, on the outskirts of Toronto. Brampton isn’t a “little town” – it’s the 11th largest city in Canada with a population over 400,000. To get there, we experienced a 61.7% population increase in just 10 years. That doesn’t stop it from thinking little.
Today was “Brampton Day” and the city center, affectionately called the 4 corners was closed down for the celebration. Every city department had a little booth or a display of their equipment set up as well as the standard Saturday farmers’ market on Main Street. Hundreds of people lined up before 8am for a chance to get a free t-shirt and a pancake breakfast.
Brampton officially came into being in 1834. Prior to that, it was known as “Buffy’s Corners”. Cute eh? The village grew into a town and then into a city slowly and calmly until 1960 when a new housing development began. Bramalea was a designed community with an integrated plan for housing, parkland, light industrial and retail building. The city boomed almost overnight and has kept growing almost unchecked ever since.
With all this growth, Brampton remains somewhat of a hick town. Our local newspaper could be published in a town of 5,000 and contain just as much “news”. Being this close to Toronto (and actually lumped in with it under the umbrella designation of the GTA – Greater Toronto Area), we’re bombarded with 4 large daily newspapers, over a dozen TV stations and countless radio stations. So Brampton doesn’t have to try very hard. We used to have our own radio station which started life as CHIC-FM with an all female cast (again with the cute) but that changed to hard rock and finally got gobbled up by a Toronto conglomerate.
Our city council is a joke – all bullshit and bluster with a very weak plan to manage a infrastructure that cannot keep up with the influx of residents. The Mayor is such a camera hog that I half expect her to show up in my kitchen every time I cut the top off a bag of lettuce.
We live in Bramalea in the “H” section – someone thought it was a good idea to name every street in each phase of the development with names that start with the same letter. We live on Hayden which is just off Hilldale. Huckleberry runs off our street. You could live on Horatio, Horton, Hazelglen, Hollis, Howden, Hayley…… You get the picture. Confusing as hell if you’re trying to find a specific place and you get the street name even slightly wrong. Our little house is over 30 years old but it’s paid for and the street is reasonably quiet. So far it’s been safe.
Anyhow. So I walked around the 4 corners just before the festivities started. Everyone was busy setting up but still managed a friendly hello or a smile. A nice part of the small town mentality. For instance, this volunteer was preparing for a long day of herding kids on and off an inflated “rock climbing” amusement. I’m sure she wasn’t smiling by the end of the day.
The farmers’ market was going strong. Late season crops of apples were drawing plenty of attention. In the center of this picture you see an older chap in a white golf cap. He just happens to be one of Brampton’s celebrities. Jack Galway used to be Director of Parks and Recreation and deserves much of the credit for the area’s parks and conservation areas. The clubhouse of my local golf course was dedicated in his honor and I still see him out on the links every weekend.
Brampton has changed a lot in the 25+ years we’ve lived here. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse and some things haven’t changed at all. The worst parts of Toronto are slowly making their way out into the ‘burbs. On the other hand, the city is actually greener than it was a few years ago. It’s just growing too damm quickly and somebody better come up with a forward thinking plan before we get sucked into the whirlpool that is Toronto.
But, for now, I still live in a little town.