(39) Street Mapping

(39) Street Mapping

The first building opposite the library on Gladstone Avenue is Hakim Optical shop. Sharing this rather long and rectangular three-stories red brick complex is WWCC, Working Women Community Centre, a charitable organization since 1974. The integral part of its mission is dealing with newcomer settlement services, offering programmes supporting immigrant women and improving the lives of their families. On the unusually wide, extended pedestrian path, Chai and Mrs. Bento stopped to look at a beautiful mosaic panel.

“This mosaic work is quite extraordinary, particularly the cutting of a big round circle for people to look through,” said Chai, moving closer to the round glass window. “It’s a small garden, it’s too bad that the bushes and shrubs were not well maintained.”

“We’ve always seen this mosaic wall from a distance when we visit the library, but just too lazy to find out.” Mrs. Bento fell back a few steps, squinting her eyes to inspect the mural art. “I see now it’s full of free flowing lives. A tree with deep roots dividing a huge butterfly and a sizeable kite, both flying happily above the pond. Hey, there’s a big tortoise swimming in the water too. You’re right, the hole is a curious one and does provide a window for us to, I’d say, to look beyond…wait there’s some information here about the work.” Mrs. Bento moved to the side of the mosaic wall, which was almost two feet thick. An acknowledgement of the participants creating this mural was installed. The names of seven Latin American immigrants, led by local artists Amelia Jimenez and Lynn Hutchinson Lee worked for a year to finish the project. Named Mapping Our Path - it painted a joyful recap of a new life as well as a beautiful painting that the nearby community can enjoy.

Walking on Gladstone Avenue was such a pleasure. They walked zigzag on the street, depending on which side the cars were parked. The vehicles could be obstructive to their view and they preferred to stroll on the open side. In a late Summer mid-day, they could still hear buzzings of cicadas from tree to tree, a wonderful symphony of sound producing rises and falls in both pitch and volume. The soughing of the wind in the branches, the leaves rustled ever so gently wave after wave. From time to time they had to use their hands to cap off the sun so they could have a better look at dwellings left and right.

The homes were mostly early 20th century two stories detached, semi-detached or row houses. The architectural styles were quite mixed and Chai was busily taking pictures for her log book. As she was snapping Mrs. Bento called over from the other side, “Look Chai, look at this tree. It’s got a lot of shoes hanging on its branches.”