Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kingston Celebrity Tour

We took a quick visit to Kingston, this weekend. We don't always revisit our former homes, but this time, we did. Please join us.


Welcome aboard, folks, and thanks for joining us on the Kingston Celebrity Tour featuring "Places of Importance to Steve and Wynn Anne."

Famous for their four remarkable offspring and stellar careers, this power couple had its beginnings in humble Kingston. Today, we will show you just a few of the landmarks on their early journey.

Let's start with the house where they first met.

While studying English Literature, Wynn Anne shared this row-house with three women: Heather, Stephanie, and Debbie. All of them were emotionally unstable and involved in various toxic relationships. Lest you think that the camera has distorted the building, let me assure you that, no, it is indeed as decrepit as it appears. It is -- and was -- sinking.

Wynn Anne's room was approximately the size of a modern pantry; her current office is much larger than that bedroom. It accommodated: her twin bed, a trunk, and two baskets, which she used in place of a dresser. (In fact, if we had a picture of that time, you would wonder why she even had the baskets as she seemed to use the floor as her clothes hamper. Her four remarkable children and stellar career were very far in her future.)

I'll pass around a picture we have unearthed of Wynn Anne from that period. You'll note she's sporting a mullet - a hairstyle now worn predominantly by rednecks. There have been many theories as to why Steve chose Wynn Anne over her arguably more attractive roommates. Steve is on record as saying she was "cute." We can only conclude that he saw something that was not captured in this picture.

It was mere days after moving into this house that Wynn Anne met Stephen. Heather (remember? The roommate?) had been invited to join Stephen and his friend Mike on Stephen's sailboat. (Stephen owned his own sailboat before he even turned 21 - you could tell great things were in store for him!)

This is where Steve and Wynn Anne discovered the joys of home-made chocolate-chip cookies and red wine. This is where Wynn Anne leapt over bicycles to greet Steve after his trip to Israel.

They also discovered the questionable joys of absentee slumlords, inebriated hooligans (new game: guess how long it takes for the police to arrive in a crack neighbourhood?), and cars in flames in the middle of the night.

Not surprisingly, at the end of that academic year, Wynn Anne moved to this address, with Stephanie (the door wasn't nearly this pretty back then):

From street level, all it is is a door. But it was right on Princess, in the heart of Kingston's bustling downtown strip. It also boasted a skylight in the bathroom and three humongous bedrooms. Back in those days, there were such attractions as the Italian Pastry Shop, the Falafel House, and Top Dog all close by.

Some things, however, have not changed. If you come here at night, you will notice the odd homeless fellow curled in the doorway. "Odd" in this case means actually quite bizarre; Kingston has a rather famous psychiatric hospital and more than its share of prisons.

By this time, the two had fallen in love, so Wynn Anne spent a good deal of time at Steve's "apartment." (It was a room, really. Just a lean-to.)

And we're in luck! Here's Steve himself to show us his room! Please try not to startle him.

It was in that room, in August 1983, that Stephen proposed to Wynn Anne, on bended knee. History shows that she accepted.

And this, up ahead on your left is the apartment Steve and Wynn Anne shared with Heather. It was three long flights up the stairs. Steve carried his bike up every night and hung it over the bed. [Insert obligatory "well hung" joke here.]

The apartment was just a block from the market and only two blocks from Books for Children, where Wynn Anne worked part time while studying.

At the time, there was a milliner's shop in the same building, and that is where Wynn Anne purchased the supplies to make her bridal veil and her bridesmaid's headdresses. As you can see in the reflection, it is right across the street from Cooke's Fine Foods and Coffee, another (less violent) Kingston institution. We'll pause here so you can go get some refreshment.

Everybody back? Good then. Let's head over to Union Street.

Up ahead on the right you will see St. James Anglican Church, where Father Bob Brow married them on August 11, 1984.

Many followers of Steve and Wynn Anne (they call themselves SteveandNanians), are not aware that this was actually a second ceremony and the couple were already married. The first, and legally binding, ceremony took place on April 28, 1984, in Burlington, Ontario and was officiated by Wynn Anne's Uncle Doug.

And not far from here, we have Kingston General Hospital, where, twelve years into their marriage, their eldest son, Peter John Francis Sibbald, was born on June 3, 1996.

As our final stop on this tour, we have here, on your right, the first home Steve and Wynn Anne ever purchased.

Bought in 1989, when interest rates were high (12%), they lived here with their daughter Katharine Elizabeth (and eventually, Peter), while Wynn Anne completed her B.Ed. and Steve completed his Masters in Computer Engineering.

As proud homeowners, they worked hard on this house, completely renovating the kitchen (their first of many kitchen renovations), removing dated panelling, and putting in new carpets and a renovated bathroom.

Sadly, the current owners have undone (or failed to maintain) much of the work Steve put into the exterior. Here is an illustration of what it might have looked like back then.

A pretty white fence and gate, a tiny herb garden, and NO WEEDS in the driveway.

That concludes our tour, folks. We hope you enjoyed it. Tips, of course, are most welcome.


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