My son came home from work a few weeks ago with a sad look of his face.
When we asked what tragedy had befallen him he replied, “They’ve torn down my playground.”
Well, it was true; the Robert Service School got some new playground equipment this fall. Why this fall instead of during the summer when it would have made more sense? That’s a question that will have to go to the government folk in charge of construction tenders, but it’s a timing issue I’ve seldom seen them get right in any of the three rural communities where I taught.
I can understand him getting nostalgic about the slides and climbing equipment. After all, he still has the cast after he broke his arm out there in elementary school, so it’s watching a little piece of his childhood being ripped out of the ground, broken up , and hauled away.
I felt it a little bit , myself. That’s where I did playground duty for years , before the high school and elementary school timetables diverged too much for that.
In my case, though, it’s the second time I’ve seen it happen. The gear that was just replaced was installed after the new school was opened in 1989. Prior to that, the current playground was occupied by what is now the Robert Service Annex of the Westmark Inn , just about a block down the street.
Change is rarely easy.
Back in the 1987 , some people were very disturbed when the dyke was created to protect the town from another flood. There had been many floods, the most recent and worst having been in 1979, and you would have thought everyone would have welcomed the safety, but there were people who felt that having an unobstructed view of the Yukon River was preferable to protection from it.
In the 1990s , Parks Canada went full bore into renovating the Commissioner’s Residence , to have it ready for tours during our centennial years. The ground floor became a magnificent display of early 20th century official opulence. The project included restoring the building to the colours it had had during its peak years, when George and Martha Black were in residence.
Gold with white trim was the restored colour scheme. However, the building had been a rather nondescript white and grey for years and there were folks who thought it had always been that way; there was grumbling.
There’s still grumbling about our indoor pool, which has a season that extends from sometime in May until about the end of September, depending on how soon the weather turns really cold. It is a vast improvement over the outdoor pool that served the town for decades, but was rarely open until near the end of June and was fairly useless after the Discovery Days weekend.
There’s a lot of nostalgia connected with that old pool and people tend to forget that it had to be heated with waste heat from the Yukon Energy plant across the street, an option that ended when the Mayo-to-Dawson hydro line was built. They forget the mosquitoes and other nuisances and bask in the warm glow of memory.
Change is always challenging, even when it’s for the best.