It’s a long way from what was a predominantly rural town of Rende in the region of Calabria, Italy to Collingwood, Ontario. It took me over 70 years with many pit stops, detours and lengthy side trips but I ultimately managed to find it without G.P.S and arrived here with my spouse, Fiorella, in the summer of 2019 P.C. (Pre-Covid).
Although there isn’t a biographical movie to verify it, much of my life has involved Close Encounters, not of the Third Kind, but rather, of our natural environment. It started with my first job as a 3 year old minding sheep and other animals on a small, self-sustaining hillside farm that had existed, in all likelihood, in the same manner for many centuries long before our family came along, and until we departed for Canada in the early 1950s.
My youth was a sports-filled adventure at the bottom edge of Toronto’s Little Italy by Trinity-Bellwoods and in the Parkdale area when its mansions rivaled those of Rosedale and were within walking distances of Lake Ontario, Sunnyside Beach and High Park. Sports provided the avenue to related summer and after-school jobs with Toronto Parks and Recreation Department while I was a student at Parkdale Collegiate and throughout my years at the University of Toronto, in the School of Physical and Health Education, naturally!
My university days and several years thereafter were a whirlwind period in deep contrast with the next 36 years that commenced in the fall of 1973. I became a professor at Seneca College, King Campus which was previously the idyllic country estate and working farm of the Eaton family, headed up Lady Eaton and her late husband, Sir John Craig Eaton. It was here that I was able to come close to farm animals once again. No sheep though, so I didn’t have to worry about being butted by an ornery ram. I taught in, and later coordinated, a number of related hands-on and technical programs dealing with the management and operation of recreation facilities and parks, as well as outdoor education and related leisure services.
I am proud to say that a number of our graduates are gainfully employed in this area, the giant horseshoe-shaped Georgian Bay, from Grey-Simcoe Counties to the District of Muskoka. It is these connections and the shrinking but lingering knowledge amassed during my years of teaching that I hope to utilize in my contributions to Just Sayin’ Georgian Bay’s Lifestyle section. I look forward to presenting opportunities that are available for “close encounters” with the many elements of our beautiful Bay Area natural resources (photos to be included of course). Happy trails! Until we meet again.