Introduction

A Story About Stories

A Story About Stories

You know what I need? A story. When I’m working hard, my mind soothes itself by wandering into stories. It could be a movie, book, movie about a book, or even adventure tales from childhood days. It’s easy to get lost in thought especially when you have access to YouTube or Netflix. I even get lost wandering in the wilderness on Google Maps from time to time. Ok, a lot.

Sitting in the fancy little common room lounge of Whitney Hall, holding a gigantic Stalin book amidts the Victorian-style decor
Back in first year, ploughing through this 700 page biography of Joseph Stalin for my TrinOne IR class (Photo by Zachary Biech)

I need new stories during the busy academic year and real stories best fill this need. Nourishing your relationship with places and peoples through these stories connects you to countless generations and the vast world that shaped them. By doing so, you are also shaped. Better yet, with such mindfulness, you can live these stories.

A massive stack of eleven thinck Russian Foreign Policy books from Robarts. Putin's picture is glaring at me from one of them.
More stories for TrinOne. My holiday homework and my old buddy Mr. Putin (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Take for instance the names of the places we live in. People romantically think Toronto means place of meetings. But different histories show that Toronto comes from the Mohawk word tkaronto which means where there are trees standing in the water. This name refers to weirs used by Indigenous fishers in the area. What a drastically different story to be surrounded by. Are you intrigued yet?

A view looking to the west from my 18th floor apartment, over the greenery of Queen's Park, the Legislature, and U of T, out across the water towards Mississauga
End of summer 2013: my new view in my apartment was great, though I knew I’d be watching the story of that tower’s construction unfold right before my eyes… (Photo by Zachary Biech)
In the twilight of a fall dawn, with pink skies, this picture looks out down Bay Street towiards the twinkling  lights of the towers downtown
By the Fall of 2013, this living city had already evolved into a new world; and the building across the street added like 12 floors and was already beginning to take away my view! (Photo by Zachary Biech)
The same view south towards downtown, but with the city blanketed in snow and the tower across the street now almost totally blocking my view to the west
The first snowfall of the 2013 winter: the tower grew ever so slightly, but never stopped completely during even the coldest times (Photo by Zachary Biech)
An even more pink dawn twilight shor of downtown from my apartment, with the lights still on in the windows of the towers. The building across the street is beginning to peek out above others in the area
Once the winter had faded, Toronto emerged from it’s snowy slumber into the bright spring dawn. And like any good character in a story, the building across the street fought against all the odds and persevered…to block my view even more (Photo by Zachary Biech)
A clear sunny day, looking south from my apartment again. The tower across the street is absolutely massive now, dwarfing all the others in the area. I give up!
So one year since I moved here, and there is now an obnoxiously tall condo across the street trying to intimidate me all day (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Spadina comes from an Ojibwe word—Ishpadinaa–referring to high hill which the present-day avenue ascends. High Park was a savannah used by various Indigenous communities for farming. Philosopher’s Walk followed what used to be Taddle Creek, which was a vital waterway and gathering place for local Indigenous peoples who originally called it the Ziibiing.

http://watercanada.net/2013/part-one-the-death-and-life-of-a-hidden-stream/

From a small rise, this shot looks out over the paths, bridge, and amphitheatre of Philosopher's Walk with the orange and yellow leaves of Fall now on the trees
Though there’s no creek here now, I try to feel the stories of Philosopher’s Walk when I’m passing through (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Ever wondered why Davenport Road doesn’t follow Toronto’s grid? That’s because it follows an ancient Indigenous trail. And have you heard of the Franklin Expedition? Long story short, they sunk. But Inuit peoples who’ve lived near the ships’ resting place kept the Expedition’s story alive through oral tradition for many centuries. Epic, right?

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/franklin-find-proves-inuit-oral-history-is-strong-louie-kamookak-1.2761362

An ancient river called Old Man River flows in Southern Alberta near where I grew up. The amazing stories of this river have shaped worldviews and histories of many peoples including the Peigan of the Blackfoot Confederacy. How has the land shaped your life and history?

In my Alberta hometown of Cochrane there is a historic ranch. Can you guess the name? Yes, it’s called Cochrane Ranche. Better question: can you guess what the town is named after??? Yup, the Ranche. I’m more fascinated by tales I’ve heard about the rocky ridge overlooking the site. I’ve heard this ridge was a buffalo jump long ago. It’s good to see home in a different light.

In the evening, looking West at the vast Rocky Mountains over my sleepy little foothills town, with the twilight sun still gleaming from behind the mountains.
This is a view from Cochrane, looking west towards the Ranche. Just to give you an idea of the aura of the place (Photo by Zachary Biech)
Still looking west over the Cochrane valley into the foothills, towards the Rockies, but this time in the bright midday summer sun
And now here’s Cochrane in a different light! (Photo by Zachary Biech)

Now that you’ve read my story about stories, I want you to tell a story. Tell your friends or family a story about the world they live in. Go and find a story to listen to, if you need. I’m going to the ImagineNATIVE film fest from October 22-26 for this exact reason. First Nations House might have some free tickets if you’re interested. Maybe I’ll tell you a story about it sometime.

http://www.imaginenative.org/home/

Once you’ve told some stories, ask yourself what stories are right there under your feet or in the air around you. What story are you living right now?

Looking up at the CN Tower from it's base in the dark of night, with the tower lit in pink and all the fog around it pink as well
Even the Tower can tell you a story (Photo by Zachary Biech)
Looking south from my apartment at night, at a Green and Red - lit CN Tower in the holiday season
No matter what time of year, the Tower plays along and changes with the seasons. The tower can even show it’s festive side during the holiday season! (Photo by Zachary Biech)
Another nighttime shot of the Tower from my apartment, this time lit up is bright green
Here’s one from last St. Patrick’s Day, when the Tower had some real shamrock luck on (Photo by Zachary Biech)
Another nighttime shot looking up at the CN Tower from it's base, but this time it's lit up in blue and wet with rainfall
The Tower can even hold memories as part of your story, like this shot I remember from a particularly rainy night after Derek Jeeter played his final game ever against the Jays in Rogers Centre (Photo by Zachary Biech)

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