Thursday, December 19, 2013

Morley Callaghan on Winter & The Canadian Heart

The first post I ever wrote on this blog was about the Torontonian writer Morley Callaghan (and the time he punched Ernest Hemingway right in the face). I've come back to him from time to time. Earlier this week, I was listening to a CBC "Rewind" podcast about his life, which you can stream online here. It features an old interview he did with Michael Enright in November of 1974, which included a little snippet about Callaghan's love of Canadian winters. He was famous for it — and for his daily walks through Rosedale with his dog. (In fact, that's the subject of what I suspect is the most beautifully sad plaque in Toronto.)

Since this year's winter has finally just arrived, I thought I'd share a snippet of his thoughts (complete, unfortunately, with his dated pronoun usage):

"The other thing about winter is... that on a winter night, if it's not too cold — now I'm not pretending to be a lover of those harsh winter winds — but on a lovely winter night when there is snow and when there is sort of unbroken snow, I love the cities. I love the cities when they're absolutely snow-covered and there's a kind of unearthly winter calm about them. And I feel a curious sense of peace and ease with myself and you can walk... and it's great, you know, when you yourself can break the snow. And somehow or other you get a sense of well-being in that kind of weather that you don't get in the hot summer...

"The winter is in the Canadian. It's in his heart. It's in his imagination, even when he grouses about it and damns it and so on."


That photo, amazingly, is Bloor Street West in the winter of 1910. Right near High Park. (Which I found via the Toronto Archives.)

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