By Charlie Mattina and Jeanette Eby
This walk was inspired by an article in the North End Breezes: BRIDGES TO NOWHERE? VANISHED SPANS OF THE NORTH END – by Robyn Gillam, Nov 5, 2018.
The North End is a unique neighbourhood, bounded by the Bay to North and West, Heavy Industry to the east, and lots of railway tracks. The bridges over those tracks were the only real connection to the rest of city. This Janes walk was a memory of a North End childhood in the 1970’s and how geography shaped the identity and perceptions of a neighbourhood.
Approximately 20 people gathered at Liuna Station at the statue of Leonardo Sciascia and continued over the James Street bridge into the North End, then east along Strachan Street to the Mary Street Bridge (which miraculously was open for the walk) crossing into the Beasley Neighbourhood along Murray Street ( aka Corso Racalmuto).
Depending on which side of the Bridge you were on, the perceptions of the North End differed. In the North End side, it was a tight knit, self-sufficient, resilient and culturally rich community.
On the south side of the bridge, many viewed the North End as perilous “enter at your own risk,” and “the wrong side the tracks.” Most cities have these areas and in most cases this perception reflects the attitudes of the day.
Hopefully today the bridges are viewed as connectors rather than barriers.
Charlie lived in the city housing at James and Macaulay and like many ex-North Enders, his connections to the community remain.