Five years ago today, in a church on an island…

By Caitlin Kelly

We got married!

296313_10150820505020720_56988601_nWhy am I laughing hysterically just before I walk down the aisle? We married on Centre Island in Toronto, with a petting zoo very close to the church. All I could hear (instead of my processional) were cows mooing!


It was, as today has been — a gorgeous, sunny, warm September afternoon.

We chose a tiny wooden church on an island in Toronto, St. Andrew by the Lake. It’s surrounded by public parkland, so I could look out the window and see green grass and hear crickets during our ceremony, attended by 25 of our oldest and dearest friends, who came from as far away as New York, D.C. and British Columbia.

By late afternoon, the wood of the church was sun-warmed, and the place smelled wonderful, bringing back some of my happiest memories of other rustic, wooden places — the stage at summer camp, the costume cupboard, our cabins and the dining hall.

I grew up in Toronto and, even after living near New York City for decades, knew this was where I wanted to marry.

I walked barefoot from the vestry to the front door of the church, my burgundy slingback Manolos dangling from one hand. There, because my left hip hadn’t yet been replaced, the minister, (himself in Birkenstocks and ponytail), and my Dad helped me into my shoes.

My processional was Dona Nobis Pacem (Give Us Peace) and our recessional was Stevie Wonder’s You Are The Sunshine of My Life.

Our photographer? A young woman Jose had taught at the New York Times Student Journalism Institute, a talented young woman, now at the Houston Chronicle, Marie de Jesus.

I had never met her, she’d never been to Toronto and she’d never shot a wedding. No pressure! She did a great job and we were lucky to have her with us.


It’s been five years of marriage today — but we’ve been together since we met in March 2000; Jose’s move-in day to my apartment (no kidding), was 9/11. He moved in a week later.

We met, (how else for two career journo’s?), when I wrote an article for Mademoiselle magazine about online dating, then a new thing (1999) and he answered the ad I had to place as part of my research. (As did 200 others!)

My headline?

Catch Me If You Can.

We would never have met any other way, but knew many people in common, which eased our first few meetings.

It’s been a wild 16 years: he retired from The New York Times with a Pulitzer Prize after 31 years, and is now full-time freelance.

He’s seen me wheeled into the OR three times, (knee, shoulder, hip), with a right knee replacement now due in the next few years, maybe sooner.

We’ve traveled together to Paris and Normandy; to six cities in Mexico; to his home, Santa Fe, NM; to Ontario and Quebec many times, to D.C., to Texas, to New Orleans and Arizona.

He gave me a tent for my birthday one year.

Today we both worked, of course, even on a glorious Saturday; he at the computer editing images of several tournaments for the United States Golf Association, I sitting in the parking lot for a village tag sale.

We laugh a lot, share a fierce work ethic and hope for continued good health.

Here’s to a few more decades…

Off to The Islands — a 10 Minute Ferry Ride Away

One of the ferries that links the Toronto Isla...
Image via Wikipedia

One of the pleasures of living in, or visiting Toronto, a city whose dense waterfront on Lake Ontario sprouts new glass condo towers every month, is visiting the Toronto Islands: Ward’s Island, Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point. The islands, originally a peninsula that split off completely from the city in 1858, were originally surveyed in 1792 and have been welcoming day-trippers for centuries; the three islands combined see 1,225,000 visitors a year. You can rent a bike there or just sleep on the sand and listen to the wind in the trees. Safe, clean, cosy, they’re a cheap and blessed respite for anyone who can’t afford to travel any further on a hot, humid afternoon.

A $6.50 (round-trip fare), 10-minute ferry ride delivers you from the concrete jungle of downtown to the grassy lawns, tall weeping willows, white sandy beaches, yacht clubs and tree-canopied walkways of Ward’s Island, my choice yesterday, even on a gray, windy day.  I took photos of the cottages, a crazy riot of color and style, from the quite literally condemned, the plastic-sheeted-window crowd, the house with the paper bag marked “mail” hung on a nail on its front door to the chi-chi olive-painted elegance of the newly-renovated, their glossy ceramic tile kitchens easily visible through the bungalow windows.

Owning a house on the Island has long been an insanely coveted privilege fought for for 30 years with the city’s Parks Department which owns the land. The Purchasers’ List opens again this November with 30 vacancies on it — anyone fortunate enough to win the right to buy a house will pay $45,000 for the lease to the land on Ward’s and an average of $100,000 to $160,000 for a tiny wooden house, many of which are barely 1,000 square feet, with postage-stamp-sized lots. Then you have to commit to living in it full-time, a joy in summer and fall with regular ferry service — and a totally different game in winter when the ferries are slower and fewer and the wind howls off the water. Transporting everything you need from the city means living a less-spontaneous life, albeit one with a spectacular sunset view of the  city’s office towers gleaming gold and pink.

Island living, for its many charms, can be a little tough in a emergency, as I discovered many years ago while briefly dating a boy whose father owned a house there. Home for the weekend from college, he woke up at 2:00 a.m. with a nasal hemmorhage; no exaggeration, this was blood enough to fill the plastic bowl I held beneath his nose — a week-old soccer injury had somehow started up again. To reach the nearest hospital meant calling the Harbies — the Harbor Police — who sent out a boat, the equivalent of a marine ambulance. A cop awaited us at the dock, took one look at Peter’s condition, noted my short hair, leather jacket and pissed-off/scared demeanor and asked if I’d done this to him. Um, no.

Yesterday’s visit was a little calmer, just a quick two hours’ wander down the silent, narrow streets, filled only with cats. Two young men walked past me with a rifle (very un-Canadian sight, that, in Toronto anyway) and some empty beer bottles — perhaps heading off for a little plinking. Another young man walked past dragging one of the enormous carts that make life there workable, this one loaded high with driftwood, perhaps for his cottage’s woodstove. I took lots of photos, ate a great hot dog and chatted with a lively 10-year-old named Flynn who let me share his cafe table to get out of the rain.

It was Flynn’as last day there, after a perfect summer in a rented cottage. It’s not every day you find common ground with a 10-year-old boy you’ve just met, but our love for the Islands did it.