About change, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “Nothing endures but change.” (Thank you, Wikipedia!) River City, like any other city, is not immune to change. Change happens continuously in big ways you can’t miss and in small ways you might not notice.
The round red and chrome stools at the diner in Westmount Shopping Centre’s S.S.Kresge store. Today, we call those stools and that long L-shaped counter “retro”. Then, we call it…nifty?!
You might remember when 7/11 first appeared in River City. Back then, the 7/11 name meant something as they opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 11 p.m. Crazy hours back then! They soon owned the market for a time, led by this new craze call the Slurpee. There was a 7/11 near my grade school and we made the noon hour trek almost every day. Next to “the Sev” was a Union 76 gas station, home of the orange styrofoam ball for your vehicle’s antenna.
Speaking of full service gas stations, remember Royalite stations? They were the coolest thing with their triangular shop windows that jutted out from the building. I had a classmate (and later buddy and co-worker through high school) named Doug who worked there. His papa and uncle owned the place (near Clarke Stadium on 112th Avenue) and my dad would gas up there. Doug pumped the gas and checked the oil. I was always so jealous of him!
How ’bout the “Fifth Street” bridge? It spanned from about 106 Avenue on 105 Street up and over the CP railyards parallel to 104 Avenue. Oh, maybe you don’t even remember those railyards!
A few blocks west of the Fifth Street bridge was a unique tunnel that might say “River City” like few other identifiers. The infamous Rathole. For many drivers, the rathole was a dark challenge wrought with scraped fenders and jagged nerves. Many truckers had issues with its low clearance, too! in 2000, River City Transportation tendered the project to say goodbye to the Rathole.
Towne Cinema had a long run as a popular movie house in River City’s Inglewood neighbourhood. The building still stands at the corner of 124 Street and 118 Avenue as a convenience store and liquor outlet. Back in its heyday, the Towne Cinema ran all the big pictures, including A Clockwork Orange, which had a run of its own by running more than 52 consecutive weeks at Towne.
Those are some big and small changes that have occurred over the years in River City. Today, change is still happening, including some mega changes like River City’s newest downtown tower, EPCOR Tower just south of the CN Tower; the Anthony Henday ring road project with its 29 bridges and five flyovers; the development of the City Centre Airport lands…