Queensborough didn’t always have streetlights, you know. In fact, I can remember when the very first streetlight came to our village, and it was a little bit of an event.
Now there are streetlights throughout the place, and when you look at them all you think, “Wow – it must have been really dark at night before these were here.”
But I think perhaps it was not as dark as it would be now, sans streetlights. Queensborough was a busier place back in the days when I was growing up there, in the 1960s and early 1970s. More people lived in the village, and there were more cars (and in winter, snowmobiles) driving around. There were two bustling general stores that stayed open till 9 or 10 at night several nights a week. There were frequent card parties and Women’s Institute meetings and other events at the old one-room schoolhouse (now the Queensborough Community Centre). There’d often be evening events at St. Andrew’s United Church too. So all in all, on any given dark night, there’d be lots of lights on all over Queensborough.
But at any rate, a decision was made at some point, I’d say around 1970 or so, to bring in one lone streetlight – or at least that’s the way I remember it. And I think that first streetlight was the one on the southern edge of town, by St. Andrew’s United. Which would be the one in my photo at the top of this post.
I can still recall gazing in wonder at snowflakes falling through the light cast by that strange new thing. Or, in summer, insects buzzing around in that same light. It seemed a little magical, actually.
I think of that every time I hear the line in one of my (and, I think, everybody else’s) favourite songs by Blue Rodeo, Hasn’t Hit Me Yet. “I stand transfixed before the streetlight,” Greg Keelor sings, “Watching the snow fall on this cold December night.” It’s a gorgeous song, as the vast majority of my fellow Canadians – it’s a very Canadian thing to be fond of Blue Rodeo – will know. Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the album it’s on, Five Days in July, was released. Then again, perhaps that explains how we’ve all had time to learn the words by heart. Hey, sing along: