Photo Essay: The Pasadena

Monday, 24 February 2014

"Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends."
— Joan Didion

I am a collector, a curator, and an obsessive hoarder of nostalgia. I keep ticket stubs and playbills, birthday cards and love notes, each a memento of a favourite night. A new adventure. A wrong turn. Something lived.

Just as the landscape of a city can change in an instant, the things we have collected can disappear. The photos of gap-toothed ancestors and the pages of books can be licked by flames, and just like that, they’re gone. Yet, ultimately, they don’t matter.

On Thursday night, as the Pasadena burned only metres away, some of my neighbours panicked. “Grab the things that are most important to you,” someone said. So, I put Ben, my domestic medium-hair, into his crate, and we waited for a possible evacuation that never came. The fire grew, but there was nothing I felt compelled to gather.

I should have thought of my great-grandfather’s pocket watch or my grandfather’s cuckoo clock. I should have grabbed my passport and the memory cards that hold thousands of photos. But I had Ben, and that’s all that seemed to matter.

Days later, from my parking lot, I can look into the broken windows of the Pasadena. From certain angles, there are patches of sky where the roof should be. There are charred bikes, beer bottles, melted blinds, and drapes that are surprisingly intact, each a reminder, that just four days ago, the people who lived in the Pasadena were eating meals, watching television, and then everything changed. 

Fundraisers are being planned for the residents of the Pasadena. The Corktown Pub and Pheasant Plucker are both accepting monetary donations. There will be a fundraiser at Doors Pub on March 7. A large fundraiser is being planned for the spring. I’ll post details as they arise. 


  1. Too bad they lost the building. Sometimes even an aggressive interior attack can't save a building when the fire's already thorough the roof like shown on you earlier post.

    What's worse is for all those living there loosing everything. Some things can be replaced. Some things cannot. Best thing is when no life is lost.

    Glad you and yours are safe

  2. The facade looks remarkably sound. Salvageable?

  3. I thought I could smell fire from my yard that night, but it wasn't until the morning that I knew exactly what had happened. It's so awful. Thank you for sharing those fundraisers.

  4. The lost of photos can sometimes have the most lasting effect. The evidence of relatives and friends disappears. Suddenly their existence moves from visual facts to oral history. Your children and grandchildren lose that visual connection to the past and become dependent on the select stories you chose to pass down to the next generation. It is like looking down a path covered in fog, everything is clear until a certain point then it all vanishes.

  5. Love this. So sorry for those affected by the fire, but loved your comments about Ben. In the end, it is the living, breathing things that matter. Glad you are safe.


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