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The lane I love.


This is the lane at my first home, a hundred acre farm located just a few miles north of the Toronto Zoo.

I’ve always loved that lane  and some of the trees are really old. In my Dad’s words, “My grandfather, Ben Diller, told me that when he was twenty years old (he was born in 1864) he and his father dug young saplings from the wood lot. ‘Father planted one side of the lane and I planted the other.’ Doing a little math you can see that the trees are 128 years old.”

Although title to our farm was snatched from my own grandfather by the federal government during widespread expropriation for airport lands in the early ’70s, this hundred acres has not only managed to survive, its outlook is bright.

The three-family farmhouse still stands, not much changed from when I grew up there. After my grandparents, great-aunt, and my own family moved away, my father’s sister rented it back from the government, then more recently, from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. And there’s the magic.

Not only has this much-loved farm, rich in productive land, family history, and memories, remained in the family all these years, its humble hundred acres are now part of the 10,000 acre Rouge Valley Park. While farm buildings may decay, and the towering black walnut tree may eventually fall, this land will never be built upon. The familiar roll of the pastures, the small stream gushing water in the spring from tile-drained fields, and the depression where there was once a deep dug pond, will remain.

I’d like to hear about your childhood home and memories associated with it. No matter where you grew up, I’m sure there’s a tale or two that should be told.


Phyllis writes words: words for stories, and words for books. Phyllis writes words for blogs too.

15 thoughts on “The lane I love.

  1. WOW!!
    I recall the lane and riding my bike up it to visit. And then the one horrible day when Marie took that terrible fall and I raced back for help.By the time we got back to her someone was picking her up from the ditch!! Your mom was so calm and I think I was going nuts on her. My grandparents farm is still occupied by Aunt Isabella and Uncle Jim still has his house there as well. So nice that we cam still go back and nothing has nor will change.

    1. I’m so happy that you have the same unique opportunity to keep on enjoying your past, Lynn. It’s a true gift, given what’s happened to so many of the farms.

  2. We always talk about your old farm house and wonderful tree lined lane whenever we run our “north” route. I didn’t realize that the property was now part of Rouge Valley Park. How wonderful to know that the land will be preserved and no houses, strip malls or airport will be built where you once made so many memories!

  3. I remember the first time i had a sleepover at your place….what I remember is the way the morning light streamed in the window where we were “sleeping”….we had actually talked all night long!!

  4. Ah-hh Phyllis! I have lovely memories of that same lane. How often your aunt and I walked in or out and shared our secrets. Your family was and is precious to me still and those memories warm my heart.
    The memories are more of my own home are more concentrated on the beautiful tree-lined road in front of our farm and the walk south to the creek and pond. Unlike your house and buildings, ours fell before the machine that tried for an airport and are no more in reality. But they remain in our minds and hearts.

  5. Lovely post — I’m jealous. My childhood home was a two-plus-den apartment in Scarborough. A drug dealer and his two Dobermans haunted the stairwells. And there was this weird little kid who lived a couple of floors above us who used to smear unspeakable things on the hallway walls. There is definitely a tale or two, but I’m not sure I care to spend more time there than I already have, even if it’s just in my memories!

    1. I’m sorry Annette … and I’m glad that you don’t have to spend any more time there. As a kid, I took everything for granted (naturally), but as an adult I realize what a charmed childhood it was. Even the hard work and difficult times. Difficult times since too, but I guess with a benign life there would be very little to draw on when writing. At least that’s what I keep telling myself!

  6. From Dad:
    I’ll write a little history about the tree lined lane.
    My grandfather – Ben – told me that when he was twenty years old – he was born in 1864 – he and father dug young saplings from the wood lot. “Father planted one side of the lane and I planted the other.” Doing a little math you can see that the trees are 128 years old.

  7. Phyllis could you repost that photo somewhere within this blog posting?

    I remember your beloved lane fondly, as I remember my own. Apple trees to the north. Wide open fields to the south. We tracked up the snow in those fields, some winters, with a horse and cutter. Other winters with a ski-doo. Always fresh, clean air to breathe and much bright sunshine, no matter the season! Truly a charmed childhood. And I learned to drive on our laneway. Every Sunday that I could, while Mom made dinner I drove..out to the road, shift to reverse, in toward the house and around the circle past the barn and on to the garage. stop. shift to drive and out to the road again. shift to reverse. back(wards) …on and on until dinner was ready. Mom trembled every time I drove past the kitchen window. Dad just laughed with delight. Mom saw an accident waiting to happen. Dad saw a farm helper in the making. He was right. I would still ski-doo those fields, pick those apples, and drive that driveway, now overgrown and forsaken, if I could.

  8. I lived in two houses in my childhood: a semi-detached home in East York, as I remember, warm and cosy, huge trees, with lots of kids playing in the street and driveways, and a brand new bungalow in Scarborough close to the Bluffs, with a huge backyard and no trees except for the “scrub maples” my dad scavenged from who knows where. But my favourite place has always been the cottage on Lake Simcoe that was just a lake-front lot my grandfather bought in the ’30s and has become my permanent home. Kind of a mess in reno’s right now, but dreams of a family retreat with a spectacular view.

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