I took this picture of Spadina, from College looking down to Dundas, early on in the pandemic, maybe in April 2020. It was surreal to see the north end of Chinatown so empty in broad daylight.


It’s been about a year since the pandemic came into Toronto. The virus had already made its way to Canada months before, and there were concerns in different countries, different parts of the world, but around this time, just before March Break for schools here in Toronto, things started picking up precipitously. What’s the official date on which to celebrate this day? The day we closed the shop? The day the WHO declared a global pandemic? The day Tom Hanks got a positive test? Who knows. It’s around now, and given how precipitously time moves, I think maybe it’s best I not look into it too closely.


This is our new normal, and we’ve had months now to adjust to having our shop closed and wearing masks and being in lockdown and it’s no longer wild and apocalyptic: it’s normal for us to have to double check extra masks in backpacks or in the glove compartment, pulling them out of the laundry to hang dry. I’ve always had a hard time with change, letting go of things, moving on, even to greener pastures.


But it’s been a year, and we’ve made it through, and the end of the tunnel is finally approaching. In the news, there is talk and prediction of a third wave here in Ontario and Toronto, the race to vaccinate against new variants. Who knows what will still be left after this is all over, how the books will look for many small businesses, what the long term effects will be for the kids who have had an erratic year and who have had drilled into their heads over and over again not to touch anything or go near anyone or breathe too much. Each community—hair salons, school parent councils, restaurants—struggling in their own ways.


We are grateful to still be here, which is probably all there is to say in a year during which so many have faced real loss. Grateful for your orders, your snail mail, your encouraging comments, staff, being able to keep our staff, a library that has temporarily suspended its late fines, for sunny days. It has sure been a year, and after 12 months of this, there’s not much new to say, other than we’re thankful to be able to look ahead to the other side of this.


A more recent photo, looking southeast to the CN Tower from the Alexandra Park housing development.





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March 15, 2021 — Liz Chan

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