Echoes of History: A Poetic Journey Through Belleville’s Downtown District
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Echoes of History: A Poetic Journey Through Belleville’s Downtown District

In the heart of Belleville lies a tapestry woven with familial ties, historical resonance, and artistic expression. Bill Smith, a local poet with deep roots in the community, offers a poignant glimpse into the soul of Belleville through his evocative verses. But this isn’t just about Bill Smith and his family’s legacy—it’s about the thriving, beautiful, and historical Belleville downtown district that has shaped generations. Join me as we delve into the essence of Belleville through Bill’s insightful reflections.

Family Connection: Bill’s family history intertwines seamlessly with the fabric of Belleville. With a Grandfather, W J Savage, who penned verses about Front Street in 1924, the town’s essence flows through his veins. Memories of shopping trips with parents, connections with local businesses, and the enduring spirit of community paint a vivid picture of familial ties to Belleville’s downtown

Personal Reflection: Walking the storied streets of Front Street in 2024, Bill’s poetic journey evokes a flood of emotions and memories. Conversations with store owners, revelations about shared histories, and the evolution of businesses add layers to his creative process. Each step becomes a tribute to the past and a celebration of the present.

Evolution of Front Street: Through Bill’s eyes, we witness the metamorphosis of Front Street—a reflection of Belleville’s ever-changing character. From the restoration of historic buildings to the emergence of residential-commercial blends, the downtown district pulsates with life and possibility. Yet, amidst progress, the essence of Belleville’s downtown remains rooted in its rich heritage.

Influence of Grandfather’s Poem: Bill’s grandfather’s poetic legacy serves as both inspiration and responsibility. With a deep sense of reverence, Bill honours his ancestor’s work while infusing his own perspective into the narrative. The baton of storytelling is passed down through generations, ensuring that Belleville’s history continues to thrive.

Passion for Downtown Belleville: For Bill, downtown Belleville isn’t just a place—it’s a sanctuary of memories and connections. From childhood escapades to adult reflections, each storefront holds a piece of his heart. His fervent belief in the vibrancy of downtown echoes through his words, beckoning others to embrace its charm.

Favourite Discoveries: Exploring Front Street uncovers hidden gems and familiar landmarks alike. From nostalgic encounters at the Empire Theatre to delightful conversations at local establishments, each discovery adds depth to Bill’s narrative. These businesses aren’t just storefronts; they’re pillars of community and catalysts for growth.

Community and Memories: Amidst the bustling storefronts, one address holds special significance for Bill—248 Front Street, the former site of Walker’s Hardware Store. Here, familial ties and poetic legacies converge, leaving an indelible mark on his soul. It’s a testament to the enduring power of community and memory in Belleville.

Reflection on Belleville’s Growth: As Belleville evolves, so too does Bill’s perspective on its growth. While change brings challenges, it also heralds new opportunities for connection and revitalization. Through his optimistic lens, Bill envisions a future where downtown Belleville thrives as a beacon of heritage and innovation.

Advice for Future Generations: Bill’s advice to future generations is simple yet profound: Embrace your roots, learn from the past, and take pride in your hometown. By honouring Belleville’s history while embracing change, future generations can ensure that its downtown remains a vibrant tapestry of culture and community.

Artistic Expression: For Bill, poetry is more than just words—it’s a canvas for capturing the essence of a place. His vision for a “Poets’ Corner” in downtown Belleville reflects his belief in the power of artistic expression to preserve and celebrate local heritage. Through poetry and creative writing, Belleville’s story endures for generations to come.

In Bill Smith’s poetic odyssey, we find echoes of history, whispers of memory, and the timeless allure of Belleville’s downtown district. Through his words, the past intertwines with the present, painting a vibrant portrait of a community united by its heritage and boundless potential. As we journey through the streets of Belleville, let us carry forth Bill’s passion and reverence for this cherished hometown.



Original poem by my Grandfather, WJ Savage, written in 1924.
I hope that I do justice in 2024.

It’s been one hundred years now
Since my grandfather wrote a poem
It listed the stores of Front Street
As downtown he did roam

In deference to W. J. Savage
I take pen and paper to write
Twenty Twenty-Four’s stores of Front Street
With hopes that you can picture the site

I will start at North Front Street Bridge
And we will travel southward bound
And then we can do the other side
When at Dundas, we turn around

Four Hundred, will be the address for Law and Orders
They’ll offer more than just burgers and fries
Perhaps you will try The Rhippo Challenge
If you succeed, it will be a surprise

You can make a stop at three ninety-two
If you’re finding your computer is sick
Dr. Jim’s Computer Repair is there
The Doc will, most certainly, fix it up quick

Our next stop is three nine zero
We find Hillside House Studios there
For body piercing or perhaps a tattoo
Stop in here and take a chair

We find Blush Studio next door
Their number is three eight eight
They will do your hair right
For a special occasion or maybe a date

We find My Space at three eighty four
Yoga classes for those who crave
Flowers By Dustin is there as well
For floral arrangements many do rave

Now we find Quinte Living Centre
Three seventy Front is the address
It is a retirement residence
A part of downtown, I must confess

Next at three fifty and also three forty-four
McNabb Towers both offer you a nest
From where you can go on an adventure
Or perhaps, stay home and rest

Jim’s Greek and Italian Eatery
We find at three twenty-six
Famous for the pizza from here
Your hunger pains, they can fix

Mr. Zed’s calls three twenty-two home
There’s billiard tables and also good food
A game or two, or maybe something to eat
I suppose it depends on what is your mood

Now for a blast from the past
At three eighteen Jumbo Video is back
You can watch or play it at home
Make a choice from the rack

At three sixteen is something new to me
Here you can break stuff for anger or play
The Shatter House Rage Room and Lounge
Has all of this as well as art on display

Barratt’s Office Pro at three fourteen
New or used office furniture is on display
Upstairs, Ashley Barratt does accounting
Bookkeeping too, just so long as you pay

At three ten, we find The Belle Pub
I recall it as The City Hotel
Been inside when I was a youth
I have stories but will no tell

Paraphernalia at three nothing six
Books “n” Stuff, she doth list
Be sure to stop in and visit
The Store with a British Twist

We find L’Auberge de France
A slice of Paris is at three O four
There is some mighty fine dining
With soup, sandwiches and much, much more

Three O two is the home of Scalliwag Toys
They provide playthings for all who think young
Stacey and Stuart also offer Walking Tours
Of Downtown and the stores they’re among

Boretski Gallery is at number Three Hundred
They offer vintage hats and jewelry and clothes
Antiques and collectibles are available too
To me it is poetry instead of just prose

At two ninety-eight is Sparrow’s Gauge Piercing
For those wanting a look of their own
They’re both safe and professional
And a good reputation, to many it is known

Uptown Funk is at two nine six
Hairstyling for both guys and gals
So if you’re seeking that special “do”
Stop on by and tell your pals

At two nine two, located right next door
Look here, we find Tyrannosaurus Pets
Not just reptiles but all pets’ needs
This is as good as it gets

Stephen Licence is your place for bikes
At two eighty-eight, they have hobbies as well
A large selection, excellent service too
You won’t be disappointed, I am here to tell

At two eight six, I am confused
It seems Unstoppable has been stopped
I remember it as Black’s Meats
With orders cut, minced, or chopped

Runway Bridal is at two eighty-two
A good selection for the upcoming bride
They can fulfill all of your wishes
But make an appointment, I must confide

Two eighty Front Street was home to
A place called Moco General Boutique
If you are looking to set up shop
Perhaps, this is the place that you seek

Two seventy-six is looking brand new
Becker Shoes is here to shod your feet
You will find all kinds of footwear
And accessories that are oh so neat

We next see a laneway
With a footbridge to cross
There are no longer stores there
To me, that is a loss

At two seventy-two, we have mighty fine dining
With meat and fish, also craft beer
So if looking to treat yourselves
Stop in at Capers, they offer it here

For a new experience in your life
Breakout Belleville is at two six eight
Escape room, axe throwing, licensed too
They are here; your thrills to sate

And now, we see the Kresge building
Lots of variety, like the former store
Century 21 Lanthorn Real-estate
Is the first, at two and sixty-four

Centum Mortgage Express at two six two
Will help find the money you need
That Special Touch at two sixty and a half
Has fine ladies wear, yes indeed

And now this building offers one more
At two six O, we find H&R Block
For help with those pesky taxes
Stop in here, and to a pro do talk

Another laneway down to the back
Cars used to travel for a parking spot
And then two fifty-eight offers E-Kort Realty
If looking for a mansion or even a lot

We pass a parkette to reach two fifty
The home of Twisted Anchor Tattoo
They offer piercings in addition to ink
While not for me, perhaps it is for you

At two forty eight, we will take a pause
For many years, ’twas Walker’s Hardware Store
W J Savage worked a long time there
Author of the poem from nineteen twenty-four

These days we find La Favorita Trattoria
Offering a place to eat and drink
I have to wonder if Grandpa ever thought
“Dining”, where they sold chain by the link

Front Dollar Store at two forty-two
Is an example of the passing of time
I remember this spot as Woolworths
A dollar store, where used to be a five and dime

We find Sans-Souci at two and forty
Dine in, take-out, they offer catering as well
William James’ daughter, my mother Annie
In early days of Zellers, worked there, I do tell

If you’re looking for men’s wear
Lafferty’s is located at two twenty-eight
Tom and his staff will help you
Whether it’s casual, or for that special date

Essenzia Eyewear is at two two four
Personal service by appointment, I’m told
They carry the latest in eyewear
If you want casual or looking for bold

We will now be careful crossing
The entrance and exit to the rear parking lot
It lies between stores and the river
You should be able to find a good spot

Our next stop is two and twenty
A law office with the name of Wright
Barristers, solicitors, and notary
For when you’re in a spot that’s tight

At two sixteen we find pills and a Doc
Village Pharmacy will fill your scrip
The other door is Doctor O’Brien
A ladies’ Doctor is my tip

Our next stop is the home of Doki Doki
Gifts, anime, cosplay, and more
All of this and friendly service
Remember the number, two one four

BMO Nesbitt Burns is next
They occupy number two ten
If needing someone to tend your money
Stop in here, you’ll find a friend

Now Belleville Art Association appears
Beautiful paintings are on display
Two hundred and eight their number is
Learn about them or buy and pay

At two nothing two is Canada Trust
I recall it being called TD
By any name it is still a bank
That’d like your money with them to be

Crossing Bridge Street is next on our walk
Take care and look both east and west
And be sure to obey the lights
It is busy here, I do not jest

Two hundred offers us something new
It goes by the name Sativa Bliss
For aches and pains or just to enjoy
Yes, that’s right, they sell cannabis

Bree’s Bookkeeping and Taxes
Is next at one nine and six
At one nine four is Zentum Management
For Managing property, they know the tricks

Next is where The Modern used to be
At one ninety is Tiger Chicken and Ribs
Stop here to get your tummy full
But I might say, don’t forget your bibs

At one eighty-six we find The Spah
A day spa to rejuvenate your soul
Many will recall Eddie Thomas at two eighty two
But now we find a watering hole

Craft beer plus food at Export Grill
Then two eighty is right next door
The Salon provides you with hair care
Whatever your need, they’re up to the chore

Bogart Carman Building, so says the plaque
First floor front is all that’s still there
In my day, it was home of Cablevue
Alas, to me, it just seems so bare

Barbers Flowers is at one two two
For floral arrangements and more
Then next door was Fire Hall Number One
Onto flames, water they would pour

But now we find Kita Beauty Lounge
Offering haircare and a spa as well
One and twelve is the street number
While inside, you can relax for a spell

Let’s now visit the old “log cabin”
However, this one is made of concrete
It is to remind us of the U. E. L.
And ’twas moved from across the street

And now Dundas, it is as far as we go
So let’s cross Front and go the other way
Where one O one is Cooney Auto Sales
With a good selection, I must say

If Naturopathic Medicine is your thing
The address is as simple as one, two, three
Give Doctor Tasha Guthrie a call
For an appointment and what’s the fee?

At one thirty-nine used to be The Park
Now a few different spots we find
Ainley Consulting is employee owned
While Harbourfront, your money will mind

There’s also Evolve Wellness Studio
Personal fitness, a boutique gym
Myself, I liked the old theatre
Especially, when the lights went dim

The Jamieson Bone Building, we find next
Olympus Properties Group is at one fifty-three
While, Q and E Engineering is next
They are at one fifty-seven, I see

One fifty-nine is Cookie Jar Baking
Take-out, delivery, the choice is yours
One sixty-one finds us at We Thrive
Holistic wellness, forget your chores!

City Hall is at one six and nine
With the Farmers’ Market out beh