Small Industrial City

The City of Peterborough has a long history. It’s one of Ontario’s older cities and once, as “The Electric City,” vied for the capital of the province.

It got its start as a logging town where lumber pulled in from north of the city would be milled and sent on its way.

Our waterway and liftlocks were originally intended to serve industry, but the development of the highways and trucking as the major means of transport shifted the focus. Now the Trent-Severn is a pleasure route, used by leisure craft and vacationers.

image of the otonabee river with the london street dam and quaker oatsBut the industrial boom and history of the town is evident in much of its architecture. From the Quaker Oats building and water tower…

image of the london street dam with all gates open with rushing water… to the London Street Dam.

Some of this architecture has fared better than others and one of the most interesting things about living here is seeing the mix of eras of buildings in our downtown core. Peterborough has yet to succumb to the numbing sameness of many other small downtowns in the province.

With any luck, there will be some effort in the years ahead to preserve some of the uniqueness that makes Peterborough stand out. However, not all buildings are destined to stand as examples of their time.

One building that has mostly stood the test of time (150 years) is The Pig’s Ear Tavern.

image of the facade of the pigs ear taven in december 2009The building, which has, at this point, seen better days, is beloved to a broad and diverse Peterborough music community. It is set to be replaced with a new development in the next year or so. Also facing the end of it’s days is the Black Horse Pub, another well loved music venue around the corner.

Have no fear, however. The music won’t stop.

Last weekend at the Pig’s Ear, Mokomokai played and brought in a crowd of metal fanatics. You can’t see it from this angle, but the door person drew a happy face on the back of the hands of patrons. All those “devil horns” have happy faces on them. Which I think reflects the raging, but happy faces of the people they’re attached to.

image of crowd at mokomokai show with their devil horn hands raisedIn spite of losing two great venues. Peterborough’s music scene rocks.

image of john ellis wailing into the mic at the pigs ear, fronting mokomokaiAnd it will keep rocking for a long time to come. (And Mokomokai might be the hardest rocking of them all.)

image of pig's ear tavern staff in the lobbyBut while we say a bitter-sweet good bye to our favourite haunts and stages, let’s not forget the amazing staff that have kept these places running. They have kept us safe, happy, and well served. They have made sure we got home in one piece.

It’s not just the buildings that make this community.

It’s the people who move through those buildings who make a community. And if you’re out this weekend and you pass a door person, a busser, a bartender or wait staff, treat them well. Say thank-you and mean it. And leave a handsome tip.

These are the people who make your good times good. Without them, we’d have a city of empty buildings.

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