On Remembering and Soldier’s Tower
I remember when my mother gave me my grandfather’s dog tag. I was ten years old. I never met the man because he died before I was born, but my mother made sure to never let me forget that he was a soldier who fought in the Korean war. After receiving his dog tag, my grandfather, the stuff of legends to a young boy like myself, became even more legendary. Being able to run my fingers along the cool engraving of his name tied my history tighter to a war that I only ever heard stories of. That moment brought me face to face with my military family line.
I also remember the first time I heard Soldier’s Tower sing. The hauntingly beautiful aria of the 51-bell carillon froze me in my tracks. It was quarter to seven on a non-descript summer evening, and I just finished a workout at Hart House. I remember exiting through the back door and as I crossed the parking lot adjacent to Back Campus, the carillon started playing. I was confused because there were fifteen minutes left before the hour, but even so, every note that rang from Soldier’s Tower resonated deeply within me. Every note reminded me of the grandfather I never met.
The Soldier’s Tower
Inside Soldier’s Tower
When The Bells Toll
I knocked the door at the top of the staircase tentatively. The 75+ steps leading up to the Soldiers’ Tower Carillon left me breathless, and after travelling up those narrow steps (stay away if you are acrophobic and claustrophobic), I wasn’t sure what to expect.
“Come in!” A deep booming voice reverberated through the door. For a moment, I imagined that I was about to step into something out of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I imagined seeing the giant bells looming above my head, and having to step haphazardly between cables and wires that keep the clock running. Oh, and a dark, sombre organ-like instrument taking up a wall. No Quasimodo, of course. I’m a pretty realistic person. So I braced myself, put on my best smile (all the while trying to catch my breath) and walked in…