Hurdman Village couple “adopt” local road

Hélène Lacelle stands ready to mow under the new adoption sign—this is a 5-year adoption to make Hurdman Road great again (after disaster of the new wall destruction of the parkette). Photo Peter Evanchuck

By Peter Evanchuck

Community spirit actually is a spirit and a passion; it does lift one up and help make one feel the joy of fellowship as one creates and participates in a worthwhile event that benefits others. If one does it with passion then the pleasure of achievement is even greater

That spirit of community that Hélène Lacelle and I helped create in Sandy Hill during our ten years of creative, passionate work made the ONEandONLY art show happen. But my doctors advised me to slow down and take things easier.

So our search began, to find something that we could do together that would not negatively affect my health. Two things loomed right in front of us and often what’s obvious is the one that can be the hardest to see. So we set out to adopt our street and join the Sandy Hill Community Garden.

After looking at the ugly wall and the treeless narrow piece of grass that replaced our lovely, little tree-filled parkette, adopting Hurdman Road seemed ideal. After all, we have been living here for more than 30 years; we wanted to make our little street and parkette “great again.”

Last spring, after two years and numerous emails, phone calls, visits, and the help of Fleury’s staff and the co-operation of the City adoption section, a sign at each end of our tiny street went up making us adoptive parents—guardians of our community. Our responsibilities basically were to keep it neat, clean and restore it to some semblance of the parkette that it was before that new wall destroyed it.

Our little “lost” area—a few houses at the end of Sandy Hill—has became known by the hordes of new students as “the student ghetto” but we know it by its former name Hurdman Village—a nickname used by the railroads that used to occupy the area. With its long history of rail-yards and slaughter houses next to the Rideau River it carries a certain charm for the few of us who know its interesting beginnings.

After all, our humble home and two others that used to be the railroad’s senior staff homes are over one hundred years old. Now that’s reason enough to keep our little street and parkette pleasant and a sort of gift to the surrounding community. Without history what do we have…nothingness.