Even though I was born in Toronto, I hardly remember anything about it when I left at the age of almost two.
When I was 18 going on 19 (25 years ago), the time came to return to the province of my birth. I wasn’t so much looking forward to it as I was to leaving "stuff" behind.
We drove to Toronto. It was in April so the weather wasn’t that great. My uncle who made the drive with us was a "gassy" sort of guy, so I was always cold on the journey because the windows had to be put down most of the way, if you know what I mean. When we made it to the big city, it was like a whole new world. Highway 401 was an experience, nothing compared to our Trans-Canada Highway when we drive into St. John’s from "around the bay."
When we arrive to our destination in Scarborough, another one of my uncles is already there with an apartment for us all. We bring in our suitcases and have a bit of a rest before he offers to take us out to lunch or dinner. We drive to a small plaza with stores and restaurants and such.
We walk up to what I think is a restaurant and where he wants to take us but it was closed; thank goodness, because it was a "Gentleman’s Bar." Not that there is anything wrong with that, but that is not something a girl from Newfoundland would do.
The next day my uncle took me along Lawrence Avenue to see if there were any "Help Wanted" signs. I went into many places that day with no resume or anything; back then it was more filling out job applications than dropping off resumes. We did this a few more days and on the fourth day, I had an actual job; night shift at a local doughnut shop. I have to say I despised that job and even though I was scared and afraid, I stuck with it until I found something better a few months after.
I used to come home in the morning, while everyone was either going to work or already at work, and cry. I met all sorts of characters at that shop on the night shift, but it did prepare and strengthen me for the real world. To this day I can’t really eat a doughnut, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
A few months later I found a great job and 25 years later I’m still here — Hallmark Canada.
I’m sure my experience is similar to many other young Newfoundlanders who came to Toronto to work back then, but I always look back at it fondly because it helped shape who I am today.
— Submitted by Celeste Delaney-Loughrey, a former resident of Northern Bay. She now resides in Ajax, Ont.