Lyric Video for Track #2: Rockwood Asylum

Historic buildings dot King Street West and I remember the drive well as many a lazy summer day was spent picnicking at Lake Ontario Park. First we’d pass the Kingston Penitentiary (1835), then the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour (home to 1976 olympic sailing events), and then, if you looked hard enough – especially in the winter when the fields were stark – you’d see a grim haunting building set back from the road.

Growing up in Kingston I remember being curious about Rockwood Asylum – former “house for the criminally insane” – as on two occasions when I was around 8 years old we had brief encounters with patients who had wandered out. One evening at dusk, we were en route to see Canada Day fireworks and a gaunt man in a hospital gown was walking in rush hour traffic towards us down the middle of the road – cars slowing and honking. It was shocking – something from a movie. As we slowly drove past my parents explained that they would find him and bring him back (who were they? to where?) as he was lost. I’ll never forget that look in his eyes.

The second time we were picnicking on the rocky beach at Lake Ontario Park, which bordered on the asylum property at the waterfront. Again, a gaunt man in a white gown was walking along the rocks and sat down to watch the activity at the park. He was the only one on his side of the property line. Such a contrast to the bright, loud bustling park with kids splashing in the water and building sand castles. I caught his eye and held his gaze for a few moments before going back to my lunch.

Track #2 on The Tides is named for this place of incarceration. In part, it echoes my own struggle with depression and the repercussions of endometriosis and begs the question – had I had been born in a different time with this same disease would I have ended up in such an institution? The video features combined footage of the waterfront I captured around Rockwood and stones from Amy Torok’s home in Quebec.