367 Woodlawn Road West, Unit 1,
Guelph, ON N1H 7K9
I recently spent three weeks in Guelph visiting my family and taking care of business there. Every day I walked in the Royal City Park by the Speed River, feeding the geese, talking to residents, etc. It’s the park that I grew up in, so it has special memories for me in addition to its natural beauty. I don’t forget that the park used to be the city dump, as nineteenth century Guelphites were in the habit of disposing of trash along the banks of the river, contributing to the infamous typhoid outbreak in the 1890s which ignited the decision to switch to the Arkell aquifer as the city’s water source. It’s a beautiful park, but I don’t let the short-sighted, mawkish fawning of environmentalists confuse me about the lands pedigree. There’s nothing natural about it. It’s completely landscaped and artificial, and it still harbours surprises underground, as the ongoing sewer work along Wellington Street keeps discovering.
One day, before returning to Japan, I was walking home from the convenience store in the Gordon Street plaza and cutting through the park when I saw a man walking his pig. My attention was first drawn to it by the lack of the usual reaction among the geese when a canine is near. The geese weren’t reacting at all. At first I thought it was a small, oddly-shaped, pinkish dog. But as I got closer I could see its head better and I realized that it was a small pig on a leash. I wish I had stopped to ask the man about his pig, but didn’t. I just went home. Many years ago I saw a man walking a pet raccoon on a leash in that same park, but this was the first time I had ever seen a pet pig.
Published in the Guelph Tribune newspaper on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 as “Park walk evokes fond memories, odd sighting.”