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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Walking the Streets of my Hometown III

looking north
Views of Trenton from Mount Pelion.
To the right, a view of the railway bridge spanning the Trent River. At the foot of this bridge, Al Purdy found a fecund source of reading material at Merker's junkyard.(p.17, MS)

Of Mount Pelion he writes:
"Trenton had a population of about six thousand in the 1920's. The town was divided into two halves by the wide, black Trent River flowing under an old iron bridge; and dominated by an oversized molehill, Mount Pelion, with an old Crimean War cannon on its crest". (p.10, MS)

looking down
Mount Pelion. Any relationship to its namesake in central Greece is purely accidental. I haven't figured out the origins of its lofty name. In reality, it's a hill overlooking Trenton. Several old residential streets run up to the base of the hilltop park; one zigzags up to the parking lot. My first visit was a disappointment - the place appeared to be the headquarters of the local disaffected bottle-smashing crowd.

But times change, and some very fine improvements have been wrought. Great steps. A bench and viewing platform. The view is unchanged - quite breathtaking actually. Interesting to compare the healthy river and its parklands with the pictures Al Purdy paints of the creosote-rainbowed river and industrial wasteland that occupied the area, unchallenged by the any nascient environmental awareness.
looking east
Mount Pelion figures in each of the autobiographical works of Al Purdy. It was to this refuge that young heroes of the semi-autobiographical novel A Splinter in the Heart pushed their wheel-chair bound neighbour and her frail husband, to escape the waves of explosions from the 255-acre site of the British Chemical Company which self-destructed the night of October 14, 1918.

For the true story of the (now almost completely forgotten) explosion that almost wiped Trenton from the map in 1918, read Explosion: Trenton Disaster by John Melady, Mika Publishing Company, Belleville, 1980.

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