Monday, October 12, 2009

Living by the Sydenham River

When I worked at University of Western Ontario, one of the residences was Medway-Sydenham Hall. Sydenham was taken from the Sydenham River, which winds its way through SWO (Southwestern Ontario), with its source near London, emptying into Lake St. Clair.

The previous blog entry about growing junk food had additional impact because not only do I know the area somewhat, but one of my favourite photographers, Larry Towell of Magnum, lives close to the Sydenham in Lambton County.

Larry Towell
Home County Folk Festival
London, ON
July 2009

I met up with Larry at the Home County Festival in London this past summer. It wasn't planned; he, his wife and a son just happened to be there. I had attended the first festival 35 years ago and hadn't had the opportunity since. It turns out Larry and Ann have been attending ever since I left London in 1977.

If you don't know Larry's work, a "gentle" way to get into it is his marvelous book The World from My Front Porch. There you will find, through Larry's excellent writing as well as his photographs, the attachment his family has to the land near the Sydenham. Juxtaposed with the junk food article, the images of Larry's children growing up in an idyllic setting where they used to be able swim in a Sydenham before it became sick and unfit slam home the awful and sad reality of a junk food society.


kellymjones said...

Thank you so much for the link to the book and the context around it. I look forward to reading it.

WeeDram said...


You are quite welcome. I was leafing through it the other day, reading the first 20 or so pages, and was really moved. Having seen otiginal prints, it was even more meaningful.