For a while I worked as a nurse, not far from 4177 Park Street in Niagara Falls, Ontario. My daily walk took me past this tired building. I wondered how many love letters crossed the Post Office floor (1885-1930), and what kind of manifests needed clearing by the Customs side (1885 -1952) before the local police station took it over. Abandoned in 1978, it remains vacant to this day, but oh, if those walls and jail cells could tell their secrets …
These secrets made the ‘author’ side of my brain run wild. I imagined “renovating” Park Street into condos, planting its rich history and folklore into my characters. On rare occasions during my walks, I saw a gentleman in work clothes behind the locked gates of the property, whom I incorrectly assumed was a transient. Once I asked him if he knew anything about the building – he confirmed that in fact, he was the owner, and his eventual plan was to restore it as a museum.
I’d never set foot beyond the steps of the massive front doors, but later, after our chance meeting, I hoped this gentleman would contact me. Many months and scribbled notes later, he kindly returned my call – while I was driving. The closest place to pull over and be able to write notes down was in the parking lot of Niagara Fall’s most popular strip joint. “Darla” was the featured exotic dancer that evening, and the perfect name for Adrian’s date in my novel – you’ll need to read more about the aftermath of their encounter. So, in the strip joint’s parking lot, I shared my dream of using 4177 Park Street as the setting for The Park Street Secrets with the building’s owner, and was thrilled when he granted me permission.
When the book was published, I gifted him with a copy. He asked for two more copies for his children, and I delivered them the same day. As I passed them to him, he smiled rather coyly, and said, “You’ve made a mistake.” In my next blog, I’ll share what that mistake was. In the interim, please take good care.