“I stand transfixed before the streetlight”

First streetlight in Queensborough

If memory serves, this – or a predecessor that stood in the same place – was the first (and for a while, only) streetlight in Queensborough. That’s St. Andrew’s United Church in the background.

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:

27 thoughts on ““I stand transfixed before the streetlight”

  1. I’m not sure of the lighting technology behind Queensborough’s initial street lights but currently they are the typical “orangey” suburban-style high pressure sodium vapour [HPS] type: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_vapor_lamp#High-pressure_sodium

    Despite the ghastly orange colour, municipalities like HPS lights because they were quite energy efficient compared to other types [ie, incandescent, mercury vapour] until the recent advent of affordable LED lighting. Accordingly, like many cities, Boston is converting all of its street lights to LED: http://www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks/lighting/led.asp I don’t know what efficiency gains will be achieved [this web site claims 26%: http://www.ledlightsorient.com/watch/street-lights-performance-led.html%5D but other benefits of LED lighting include enhanced bulb longevity, controllable light dispersion/pattern, and more natural light spectrum. One can see the difference in this side-by-side photo comparison: http://www.cityofboston.gov/Images_Documents/ledsidebyside_tcm3-33157.jpg

    Apparently, civic planners and law enforcement like HPS lights because of the colour of the light. It reportedly accentuates facial blemishes such as pimples and acne, thereby dissuading teenagers from congregating under said lights [or encouraging them to wear hoodies].

    As you likely already know, the QBC is considering switching the village to more traditional “period-style” street lights like those in Coe Hill [look just above the police cruiser in this photo: http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca/archives/sunnews/canada/media/2012/10/20121030-212059-g.jpg%5D. If this ever comes to fruition, it would provide the Municipality an ideal opportunity to switch to LED lighting at the same time.

    • Correction: In the third & fifth URLs above, remove the “%5D” at the end in order to make them work properly

    • Interesting, Graham, thank! Indeed, I remember the first Queensborough streetlights being a nice bright white colour, not the rather annoying orange that one sees in so many places now. I’d be happy to see us go to non-orange lights!

      • That is interesting, GG. In other streetlight news: I’ve recently noticed that the ones on the southern edge of Queensborough are a nice clear white light, while the ones “downtown” are an annoying orange colour. Which are more environmentally friendly? Please say the white ones, so maybe I can lobby the municipality to make them all like that!

      • I’m not aware of any claims that the nauseous, bilious, ghastly [I’m not too biased, am I?] orange colour of sodium vapour lights being more environmentally friendly.

        So, it comes down to aesthetics: white light is much more pleasant.

        We [ie., QBC] should lobby the Mun of Tweed for gradual streetlight replacement with LED units installed in more historic-looking mounts such as those in Coe Hill

      • On page 8 of the Dec 26, 2013 edition of the Central Hastings News [EMC] is an article regarding the presentation of LED street lighting to the Dec 10 Tweed Council Meeting. [The article is also available on-line at http://www.insidebelleville.com/news-story/4289773-a-big-street-light-savings-opportunity-for-tweed/%5D The photo however shows are rather blandly styled fixture similar to the current lighting pods. We [the QBC] should get ahead of the curve and specify a period-style enclosure [it can be done!] for such LED lighting and lobby for Queensborough to receive the first units.

      • I saw that article too, but wasn’t sure from reading it whether the new lights Tweed is considering are for the village of Tweed only or for the Greater Tweed Area. I certainly think it couldn’t hurt to ask about non-orange streetlights! Hey, perhaps you should make a written proposal/suggestion in time for the next meeting of the Queensborough Community Centre committee (Jan. 7) – or feel free to come to the committee meeting to discuss! (Lud’s your man for getting it on the agenda.) Cheers!

      • “…Greater Tweed Area…”

        You mean it’s NOT called “Greater Queensborough Area” [GQA}? I’m so disappointed

  2. I played your video link and Tim just walked in and handed me the CD. I will me importing it into my library. 🙂

    • What a sweet story, Nicole! I am not at all surprised, though, that Canadian lad Tim would have that album. All us Canadian folk of a certain age do! Glad you like the song. It truly is a keeper.

  3. Blogging is a funny thing. Once the most current entry is no longer current, is is just kinda gone? I don’t really understand how it works, but here i am commenting on something from a few days ago… The fella that used to play keyboards for Blue Rodeo, James Gray, and the fella that was keyboards at the time of this song, died a few days ago from a heart attack at age 51.
    We were nodding acquaintances, and mainly known to each other because he offered to join The Touchstones (my up and coming Toronto band approx 1990) and we said no thanks. and then he joined Blue Rodeo. Well, i guess we showed him.
    Anyway, a sad footnote.

    • That is so sad. Fifty-one years old…

      Was James Gary the keyboardist post-Bazil Donovan?

      And hey – what ever happened to the Touchstones? Isn’t it time they got the band back together and took it on the road?

      • James keyboards. Bazil still going strong on bass. As for Touchstones – down in a blaze of glory like all rock bands should.

    • I was sitting with an acquaintance on a Bloor street patio in the early 90’s….and along came Bobby Wiseman. He stopped to talk with the guy I was with, and he lamented his place with the band. I don’t remember much from the conversation except that his involvement seemed to coming to and end, and that he didn’t seem happy about things…….James Gray replaced him shortly thereafter.

    • Hey “john’s new mac”, I’m looking for info on The Touchstones. Namely the full name of the singer (you?) because I’m compiling a photo book and there’s a fantastic shot of him (again, you?) that I’d like properly credited. Please let me know if you get this message!

  4. Well, it is the dawn of a new era! Today, Wed Aug 6, 2014, the 11 “orangey” suburban-style high pressure sodium vapour [HPS] street lights were replaced with LED units [the 2 by Bobbie’s old house and the train station are evidently not municipal property].

    At night, they emit white light and quite bright. However, the “shades” are NOT deep enough, with considerable light spilling out onto adjacent property. And, we haven’t yet lobbied the Municipal Council for period-style enclosures such as those in Coe Hill & Stirling. So, some changes are still needed..

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