The City of Cambridge was incorporated in 1973, when the three municipalities of Galt, Preston and Hespeler and the settlement of Blair were amalgamated into a single legal entity under a new name. (A new name that was not very new as Preston was once known as Cambridge Mills.) Each of the communities possessed a long and proud history and there was considerable resistance among the local population to this "shotgun marriage" arranged by the Provincial government. A healthy sense of rivalry had always governed relations among our three communities. Even today, while our residents will tell the outside world that they call Cambridge home, they will often identify themselves to each other as citizens of Galt or Preston or Hespeler. While the original communities have come together well in the years since amalgamation, they began life apart and as a result Cambridge is blessed with not one but three historic core commercial areas to preserve for future generations. As Cambridge has developed the open spaces between the original municipalities have been filled in a fourth commercial core.
Today, Cambridge is a thriving emerging and modern city with a diverse population of more than 125,000. It is located within the Regional Municipality of Waterloo and is apart of one of Ontario's fastest growing and economically prosperous regions. With its perfect position being located along Highway 401, only 45 minutes from the provincial capital of Toronto, Cambridge is well poised to continue to grow and flourish into a prosperous metropolis and one of the best places to live in the Province of Ontario. www.cambridge.ca
By Emily-Jane Hills Orford
“Mud, mud, glorious mud,” I sang as I smacked another messy mound on the player’s bench. Spring showers provided me with a healthy supply of this luscious mud. And I had the entire park to myself, to use the mud as I saw fit.
Colquhoun Park was right behind our house. Down a slope that we used for tobogganing in the winter, it had its own baseball diamond, just a stone’s throw from our backyard. Mom didn’t mind me playing in the park by myself. She said she could see me from the kitchen window and she knew I was safe. It was a safe neighborhood; everyone watched out for the children.
Since kindergarten was only half days and I was slotted for the afternoon half while all my friends along the street were in the morning class, that meant I had the park to myself. I didn’t mind playing alone. As the youngest by several years, and much younger than any of our cousins, I was often left to entertain myself.
“More chocolate cookies,” I said to myself. There was no one around to hear me and tease me for talking to myself. “Now all I need is some customers.” I busied myself with the mud patties, until the entire bench was covered with them. I wondered, but only briefly, what the players would think when they came to play their weekly game this evening. I giggled to myself as I thought of the players sitting on my patties. “Oh well!” I said and giggled some more. “They’re always covered in mud after running the bases. What’s a little bit more.”
Once the bench was covered with my patties, I smacked my hands together and stepped back to observe my hard work. “My bakeshop is ready to open.” I started parading around the diamond calling out for potential customers. “Fresh cookies. Chocolate chip cookies. Five cents a dozen. A baker’s dozen.” I really had no idea what a dozen or even a baker’s dozen was; they were only words I’d heard spoken when I accompanied Mom into the local bakeshop. I kept smacking mudcakes, my make-believe chocolate chip cookies, all along the bench, oblivious to the silence and emptiness that surrounded me.
My stomach rumbled about the same time as Mom called from the back door. “Lunch!” she yelled loud enough for anyone living around the park to hear. I brushed my muddy hands up and down my slacks and made a dash up the steep hill to our backyard. There was no fence to divide our property from the neighbors; Dad didn’t see the need and it would just be another expense. There were trees lining the back of the yard, what once had been an orchard when the Colquhoun family owned the property. And the scruffy grass that Dad had planted, one seed bag at a time after we moved in last year (he could only afford one seed bag each pay day) looked like a patchwork quilt, all the squares of green slightly different from the adjoining squares, evidence that the seeds came from different bags. I dashed toward the garage and the door that led into the kitchen. “Stop!” Mom shrieked, holding up her hands. “Take off your muddy boots right there. I just washed the floor.” I did as I was told and then tiptoed into the kitchen. “Up to the bathroom. You’ll have to soak in the tub to get rid of all that mud. Come along. I’ll help you.” Mom scurried me into the bathroom, started the bath running and, after instructing me to shed my muddy clothes, went off to fetch me some clean clothes. When the bath was full to my satisfaction, I stepped in and slid down into the soothing warmth. “Can’t have you going to school covered in mud,” she exclaimed when she returned. As she helped me wash away the mud, I asked, “Why do I have to go to school in the afternoon and all my friends go in the morning? It’s not fair. I have no one to play with in the morning.” I managed a reasonable pout as the water dribbled down my forehead, taking streaks of mud with it. “It’s just the way things worked out,” Mom explained as she lathered me with soap and washed away even more mud. “Your name is allotted to the afternoon kindergarten class, while your friends on this street were assigned to the morning classes.” Kindergarten was only half day, but I wasn’t pleased with my placement. Not at all. “It’ll change after Christmas and then you’ll be in the morning kindergarten class.” “With my friends?” I asked in a hopeful tone. “No. Sorry. They’ll be in the afternoon class after the switch.” “I don’t like the afternoon class,” I complained, pouting again. “All we do is listen to a story then lie on our towels and pretend to have a nap. I can nap at home. I don’t want to nap at school.” “That’ll change, too, when you start the morning class,” Mom explained. “There. All clean again. Let’s get you dried off and then you can get dressed and come down for some lunch before going to school.” “Do I have to go today?” I asked. “I want to stay here and play with my friends.” “Why?” Mom asked. “Didn’t you say you’d be having a nap if you were here? There wouldn’t be much playing if that were the case.” She had a point. “What will happen to my mudcakes while I’m at school?” I had to know. “It’s supposed to rain this afternoon,” Mom said, rubbing the towel down my back. “It’ll wash away, I’m afraid. There’ll be more mud for you tomorrow, so you can make more mudcakes.”
“ Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, Mom never worried about me playing by myself in the park, just beyond our backyard. She never worried about all the mud I managed to cover myself with. “That’s what soap and water’s for,” she always claimed. We were clean whenever we went out to church, to school or on errands. But, when we played? We always managed to come home a little dirty, but full of energy and creative stories about our antics. Those were the days!
Emily-Jane Hills Orford has published several books, creative nonfiction stories mostly about her family. Growing up in Toronto, then Hamilton and finally London, Emily-Jane has lots of family stories to warm the heart. In her most recent novels, “Mrs. Murray’s Ghost” and “Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure”, the author returns to her roots and the fond memories and dreams, growing up in a haunted old Victorian mansion in London. For more information about the author, check out her webpage at: http://emilyjanebooks.ca