I live in Cambridge, Ontario. It’s a part of the Waterloo Region and the place I’ve called home for my entire life.
Earlier this year I decided I wanted to share more of my hometown and the places I frequent on this blog, as it really is such a big part of who I am and my life. Later on I’ll be doing features on some of my favourite shops, restaurants and bars, but for now I’m going to give you a little tour of the three parts of Cambridge that shaped different stages of my life and what they mean to me.
To give you a little background information, Cambridge is comprised of three areas: Hespeler, Preston and Galt. These were small townships that eventually amalgamated. I’ve lived in all three areas at different parts of my life, and each one has special memories and meaning to me.
This is part 1 and it’s about Hespeler.
My First Home
When I was a kid my mom and stepdad rented a large three-bedroom apartment on Queen Street. Queen Street is the main downtown street in Hespeler, and it runs along the Speed River. Our apartment was above a gas station/convenience store, so instead of a backyard we had a parking lot, and just behind us was a railroad track and the river where we would play.
My cousins also lived in Hespeler, just up a hill and down the road. And just beyond their house was our elementary school. We even had good friends who lived next door, and we spent a lot of time at their house. I have fond memories of watching Ren and Stimpy in their parent’s room while rolling around on their waterbed. #90skid
For fun we would go to Forbes Park, rent movies at Jumbo Video, order pizza slices from the store up the street, and get free 1 cent candies from the gas station when this one younger woman was working. She used to bring her jack Russell terrier to work and we called him Wishbone. I don’t actually remember his real name, or hers.
As a kid it was all I knew and I loved it.
Then we moved when I was 7-years-old to Preston.
My one cousin is only 20 days older than me and she and I have been best friends our entire lives. We were inseparable! She even convinced her parents to let her attend my high school in Preston.
But as teenagers we spent most of our free time at her house, or our other friend’s house, in Hespeler. At this point their family had moved to another neighbourhood, but we were older and free to roam the streets. Our one friend lived not too far from my cousin, and she had a clubhouse in her backyard. I can’t even begin to explain all of the amazing memories we shared in that tiny little clubhouse! It was our very own space and we loved it.
When I was 14 the music scene in Cambridge was happenin’! Punk shows, metal shows and emo shows were all the rage, and you could watch a local band every weekend. Over the years, as more and more people complained, each music venue shut down. There are literally no shows left in Cambridge, at least not to the extent there used to be.
One of the most popular music venues us kids would go to was at Forbes Park. It was called The Scout House, and my friends and I would hangout there every chance we got!
Our favourite local bands included You, Me and the Machine, Sister Amadeus and Disgust. These were just high school kids making music and entertaining their peers, but we loved it! And honestly, I still have their CDs and pinback buttons!
My cousin is the girl upfront with the pink, blue and blonde hair, and I’m the girl with pink hair and glasses. The one with the grey backpack my cousin’s grabbing onto. It’s funny seeing videos of yourself on YouTube.
Going to shows at Forbes Park was my favourite for several reasons. First, because it was a short walk away from my cousin’s house. It was also in a park, so we had plenty of places to hangout before, during and afterwards. Finally, it was pretty small, but it was a great building to mosh around in. At one Disgust show it got so overcrowded they had to kick people out. Some kid even broke his nose and an ambulance showed up. Drama drama drama.
Besides going to shows, my cousin had a lot of friends in Hespeler. We spent a lot of nights just walking the streets, visiting people and hanging out in parks. I think that’s pretty typical for teenagers.
It was a magical time in my life and I wouldn’t trade any of it for something different.
A Thriving Downtown
Hespeler may have the smallest downtown core in Cambridge, but it’s a really strong community.
There are a lot of terrific shops and restaurants that I love visiting! I can’t wait to start sharing some of my favourites with you over the next little while, but to give you an idea of what’s going on in Hespeler I’ll list a few right now.
The Vault is a horror fan store that was in Hespeler. To be honest, I think it might have since moved, but it’s still open! They sell all things horror, sci-fi and cult – a dream come true for creepy gals like myself!
Millpond Records and Books
Millpond Records and Books is exactly what it sounds like, a store that sells records and books. And since I love both, this is a store I frequently visit.
Black Orchid Designs
Black Orchid Designs is an alternative fashion and accessory store. They sell some really cool stuff and used to host workshops. They might still host various workshops, which I should check out. I know they had one recently aimed at helping entrepreneurs.
The Cat, The Book and The Candle
The Cat, The Book and The Candle is another really cool store in Hespeler. The owner sells a ton of really neat items like tarot cards, crystals and smudge sticks. Even cooler, she teaches a ton of different workshops! I really want to go to a few of them including Healing With Crystals, Hypnosis for Weight Loss and Tarot Cards for Beginners.
There are also a lot of really good looking restaurants, which I haven’t actually tried yet. As a kid we used to go to The Barking Fish because it was on the same street as my couisin’s house. It was shut down and is now The Rabbid Fox, which is also good.
Next week I’ll tell you about Preston, which is where I grew up and got my first apartment!