Friday, March 4, 2011

Jumbotron in Smallville

I have lived in a semi-quiet suburban neighbourhood in Richmond Hill for just over eleven years now, and I can say with some level of confidence that there have been some major changes since I moved in. I am speaking specifically of the slow but sure commercialization of all four corners of the nearest major intersection to where I live, Rutherford Road and Bathurst Street.

When I moved in, the intersection contained a quaint little plaza on the northeast corner where we would sometimes get our bread at the family-owned bakery, some untamed (and rather nice) trees on the southeast corner, and a sheep farm on the southwest corner.

The most interesting and arguably most important corner, though, was the northwest. Shy-low farms, purveyor of farm-grown foods and our halloween pumpkins every year until they closed in the middle of the 2000's. I remember visiting on many a happy occasion in my childhood, especially the huge Styrofoam pumpkin they displayed right at the corner, and the old streetcar they displayed behind the storefront.
According to the Transit Toronto website,
What could be more ignominious than being abandoned? How about, abandoned twice? That's the fate of TTC PCC 4716 (ex-Birmingham 816). The streetcar was sold complete, trucks and all, and moved to the north side of Dundas Street just west of Yonge during the late evening of July 15, 1973. Unoriginally, it was named Desire, was painted a brilliant red and opened as a boutique. On July 27, 1977 it was removed in preparation for the construction of the Atrium on Bay, and stored at an unknown location in Markham until 1981. Then it was sold again and moved to a lot at Birchmount and Steeles. In 1982, it was sold again and moved to a lot run by the owners of Shy-Low Farms on the west side of Warden Avenue just north of Steeles where it was used as a residence and office. It was repainted, poorly, in pseudo TTC colors but whether in 1981 or 1982 is unknown. The final journey took it to Bathurst and Rutherford in Thornhill (same ownership) in May, 1987 where it sits to this day.
As we all know, it obviously does not sit there to this day but I will take this time to point out that the farm vacated the corner about two years before the plaza construction began. So that is not to say that it was forced to move because of these big box stores, but it is sad when these lovely little places to buy our fresh and non-mass marketed produce disappear.

As for the sheep farm on the southwest corner, it has since become a plaza slightly larger than the northeast one, containing among other stores a Sobeys, a TD Bank, and a Tim Hortons (a necessity at every major intersection, naturally).

Back to the main topic of this discussion, the northwest corner. The farm of my childhood has now become a large expanse of stores, most notably the enormous Longo's (with underground parking of course), the Duff's Wings, a Second Cup and an Aroma Coffee. You may think, why would there be a need for two coffee shops on the same corner? Well, I certainly agree, and I go on further to remind you of the aforementioned Tim Horton's across the street, as well as the Starbucks Coffee inside the Longo's! Excessive? I leave that up to you. Just keep in mind that there is now a DaisyMart currently making the move into the northeast plaza, which will be serving Country Style coffee.

Furthermore, there is also an RBC Bank on this corner, and a new Scotiabank and gas station on the northweast corner. Five coffee shops, Four Middle-Eastern restaurants, Three banks, two supermarkets, and a partridge in a pair tree. At this point, it would only be natural to include a Jumbotron for further advertising of these stores. As though anyone who would pass through the intersection enough in a week to enter into these plazas wouldn't already know about the new stores staring them in the face, to a point where someone decided they needed a Jumbotron to make it annoyingly obvious.

I guess that the main problem I have with all of this is the fact that the people who make these decisions are only thinking about the bottom line and just how much their pockets can hold before they split apart at the seams. For example, I noticed that the What A Bagel restaurant is on the roll of advertisements that the Jumbotron cycles through. I could be wrong, but wouldn't the clientele of such a restaurant (especially in such a neighbourhood) already know about the products they have? And wouldn't they be the kind of clientele who would find a Jumbotron incredibly annoying? And wouldn't they be the kind of clientele who would boycott an establishment for such a reason as disgustingly grandiose advertising?

Not to mention all of these points, but what about the fact that a Jumbotron is very distracting right in the middle of an intersection and could cause accidents? I know from experience that rush hour is a very busy time there, and the added disruption of a huge light-up screen wouldn't exactly help the situation.

In a neighbourhood that used to be so quiet and family-oriented, it certainly hasn't taken very long for commercialism to seep in through the cracks and take over an intersection. I wonder if anyone passing through the whole of it was under the impression that this was the urban center of a bustling metropolis. It certainly looks that way to me.


  1. I remember that the street car was made into a farm for a bit.
    And you know the sheep are still there, right? Just in the corner pushed further from the intersection
    Also, It's name wasnt Shy-Lo Farms. Shy-lo farms only left about a year ago, and they had the silo that was painted orange down the road. It wasn't at the intersection. You might have your names mixed up so I would check thatt...haha
    and thats what they put there? a Jumbo tron? how effing dumb is that. As if i need more distractions knowing that there are two starbucks one traffic light away from each other not to mention that apparently, duffs wings isnt very good and menchies was eh. I want my farm back man.

  2. also, you are funnnnnyyy.
    i laughed a little. in my library cubicle.

  3. Correction* The Pumpkin silo is Southbrook Farms. Shy-low is at the corner. Click the link I posted at the top of the post called "Transit Toronto"

    Also, click this link.

  4. Hm. well the transit thing doesnt look right either hahahaha.
    where were the animals? i see no picture.
    and i clicked the link. it doesnt show a picture of the silo and that was its main attraction, was it not? not to mention they dont look the same as when we went there. are you sure?

  5. very sure. ask someone else they'll tell you