Rona Altrows' "Rouleauville"

by Shaun Hunter


Calgary through the eyes of writers

"Hanging Out" by Peter Smith (1994). Three frogs used to sit on this bench on the corner of Fourth Street and 21st Avenue SW. The day I visited, there was only one. Anyone know what happened to the others? (Photo: Shaun Hunter)

"Hanging Out" by Peter Smith (1994). Three frogs used to sit on this bench on the corner of Fourth Street and 21st Avenue SW. The day I visited, there was only one. Anyone know what happened to the others? (Photo: Shaun Hunter)

Trina, a mentally challenged woman, her guardian and their cat are on the move. In a few weeks, they’ll be evicted from their modest rental in the Mission. Trina is anxious. The cat has a skin problem. Their guardian snatches time to look for a new place to rent, but affordable apartments are few and far between. She braces herself against the noise of change in this historic neighbourhood once known as Rouleauville – the pounding of pile drivers, the roar of excavators. Around them, houses tumble down “like so many wooden dominoes.”

 

Fourth Street, what’s become of you? No more Mission Pizza, no more Franzl’s Gasthaus or Four Brothers or video shop or used book store. Now it’s all cheap link fencing, traffic cones, cranes, sawhorses, cherrypickers, half-built condo highrises. Billboards at construction sites yell about spa-like ensuites. And here I thought all we needed in a washroom was a toilet, a tub, a sink. Even the big metal frogs on the bench look stunned, like they don’t recognize their own neighbourhood.

 

Rona Altrows, “Rouleauville” (Lofton8th, 2016)