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The urban geography of death

March 6th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Just stumbled across this poetic essay from a Toronto writer, meditating on the places in that city that evoke the ghostly presence of deaths past, which struck a chord.

I worked, many decades ago, typing court transcripts from tapes, which used to take me into a different world, via my headphones, where I felt vividly present at the scenes of accidents and robberies and murders. There is a building in Kitsilano that I can never pass by without thinking of the jeweller who was robbed and murdered there.

That alternative view of the city has only been strengthened during my years as a journalist, where certain intersections or spots on the highway are indelibly imprinted on my memory as a place someone died. I invariably try to direct friends to the location of my neighbourhood restaurant by helpfully telling them that it’s “right where the Dosanjh brothers were gunned down.”

It still feels a little eerie to walk past the spot where Tracey, the homeless woman, burned to death on Davie this winter, made more so by the concrete wall at the spot where she died still smudged with black soot and what seems like the faint outline of a shopping cart visible. And the places where Rachel Davis and Lee Matasi were shot (outside 15 Water and 398 Richards) are still whispery reminders of how young kids have lost their lives to the careless violence that permeates our yoga city.

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  • a friend

    well said Frances… RIP Lee..

  • gmgw

    I’ve walked past Davie and Hornby several times recently and felt the same as you, Frances. This may sound a bit ghoulish to some, but I think the terrible marks on that wall should be preserved somehow, as a memorial to the tragedy that took place there– and as a reminder that such a thing cannot be allowed to happen again, and that the conditions that give rise to such occurrences must be done away with once and for all. Consciences need to be pricked. Remember Tracey.

  • Friend Of Lee

    Thankfully we have leeside to remember Lee Matasi’s life.

  • a friend

    Friend of Lee,

    Thanks for pointing out that there has been a positive change to the Urban Geography, what you have done to honor these innocent people, your friends, is so amazing… and what a wonderful way to change things at a grassroot level.
    All Lee’s friends should be proud of the hard work they have done at Leeside to change things for today’s youth, a labor of love for a friend, what an inspiration you folks are..You are the kind of role models that are needed for youth today. Keep up all your good work.
    PS. the Leeside Expresso Blend coffee is soooo good.