The Bridgewater Met Mart

In the “big” town near us, where the little explorers go to school, there is a rusty old structure kicking around behind the newfangled pharmacy and clinic.

I’ve lived in the area for about 7 years and have never gotten around to stopping to investigate. That’s likely due to growing and raising small humans while letting my business cool it’s heels very close to the dustbin, but I digress.

Standing side-by-side like two bloodstained skeletons of consumerism, the “South Shore Mall” buildings or Met Mart as some locals may know them, are a rather large poster child for what happens when trends and styles – architectural, traffic flow or otherwise – change so rapidly. Urban sprawl, urban decay and the like are all the result of right-nowism gone awry, with no attention paid to community needs such as walkability, public transport or heritage preservation.

This mall, in use until the late 90’s has two rumoured causes of it’s demise. The first being the newer, and larger, Bridgewater Mall, located down the block, beside the LaHave River and nearer to downtown. The other possible culprit, water damage. The buildings were apparently plagued with water issues, mostly arising from too high a water table underneath, leading to the being easily flooded.

But, the abandonment and “demolition” of these structures, whatever the true cause, is not without a different sort of merit, the kind that few pay attention to. That is the need for teens and preteens to congregate, to explore their independence, to SKATE for goodness sake. As a big believer in, and supporter of, freedom, fun, rebellious & (at least somewhat) respectful youth culture. I can see the beauty of these behemoths for what it is: a blank canvas where cool shit can go down outside the notice of most of the town inhabitants and inaccessible to cop cars.
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Gaspereau Bridge, Two Sides

This post, which is the realization of a dream long held by the Trainman, takes place over two separate visits to a beautiful old train bridge which Trainman had glimpsed multiple times from the highway, on our visits to our old hometown in the Annapolis Valley. The “Gaspereaux” Bridge, is the second to occupy this crossing, and was built in 1911. It went out of use sometime in the late 1990’s.

One daycare-free day, in late February, Mama Structure Sleuth packed up the little Trainman and made the road trip to the Gaspereau River so we could hike over the rusty old rails and check out the bridge.

This was also the first time that the Trainman had seen actual rails on a rail trail, as most trails have been sanitized and don’t really look much like a railway anymore. So, of course, we had to stop and touch the rust on the rails, check for loose railroad spikes and pick up chipped pieces of railroad ties. A rip-roaring good time for Mr. Trainy!

The best thing for the Structure Sleuth was that, at the site where we parked, we picked up a farm dog of some random description and he hiked the whole trail with us, only leaving us when we got back to the car. The amusing thing about this is that, back when the Structure Sleuth & the Papa element used to geocache this trail, we always found a farm dog in the same locale that would hike the entire day with us. Only, this was a different dog. Same farm. Same type of personality. Completely different dog. Go figure! Dog #1, who never had a tag on, had been deemed Frodo, so this new dog was called Sam while he walked with us.

There were a few points along the tracks where the weeds had turned into great clumps of vine or tall trees, so we had to leave the trail and walk in the ditch along side. Sam, however, seemed to know all the best routes around, and led us onward til it was safe to return to the tracks. How nice of him!

When we reached the Hortonville side of the bridge and could look down at the spot where the Gaspereau flows into the Bay of Fundy, the lil Trainman, though freezing cold, was just about as happy as a clam!

He wanted me to walk him across the bridge but Mama knew, from trying to cross this bridge 5 years ago while wearing older brother in a baby sling, that the bridge was not built for foot traffic and that some of the spaces between cross beams, –You go ahead and call them cross members and then you and I can have a long, boring discussion about the differences in term usage between European architects and North American ones, okay?– which appear deceptively close to each other in the photo, are totally large enough for a faulty-footed adult to drop right through down into the water. We made an attempt but only made it about 8 feet before we both freaked and turned back. Even our steady friend Sam wouldn’t go across the bridge, turning around even quicker than we had.

We enjoyed the view though and took some pretty pics of low tide and the clay banks, opened our warm thermos of broth and sat for a while. Eventually, bone chilled, we bid Sam farewell and headed to the Just Us Coffee Roasters for a nice fair trade cocoa and a muffin.

Not too shabby for a wintertime visit to the seaside.


Our return visit to finally tackle the opposite side of the bridge was made in the fairer weather of mid-May, with older brother, Skateboy, along for company.

We parked on the Avonport side of the Gaspereau, near a defunct railroad crossing that has been robbed of it’s telltale lights, and beside a derelict farmhouse that has always been attractive to the Structure Sleuth…still yet to be properly explored.
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