Kate Schwass

A knock brings Rose Ann McSloy to her front door and she quickly ushers the person inside.

"You have to yell at each other," she said, referring to the noise of traffic going past her home.

She remembers when her street was much more quiet, when you could carry on a conversation on your front lawn, walk down the street to the hairdresser's shop and when you could easily cross the road to the Caswell Dairy to get an ice cream.

"It was a nice street to live on at one time," she said.

But McSloy has seen many changes since she moved to her home on Norfolk Street North in 1954.

The highway went from a two-lane street to a four-lane highway, milkmen no longer parked behind her house before they did their house-to-house deliveries, and the dairy across the street closed. When older residents died, their homes were never sold and the windows were boarded up.

Now, another change. All of the homes along the west side of Norfolk Street North just north of the highways 3 and 24 intersection have been officially sold to make way for a new development.

Later this year, McSloy's home, along with about 10 others will be torn down to make way for a new commercial and residential project being completed by London-based Canadian Commercial Realty.

The plan includes a Boston Pizza for Simcoe and more than 20,000 square-feet of commercial space for other retailers.

McSloy is moving from the place she has called home for 52 years.

"It's been my home, but if I have to move, I have to move," she said. "It's all changed, and it's kind of sad to see it go, but it's progress and it will be a nicer entry to Simcoe than what's here now, don't you think?"

Norfolk planner Mary Elder said a development application has been filed. A map of what the proposed development will look like isn't available yet.

McSloy was given an offer on her home in March, but nothing was official until Aug. 15. She and the other homeowners have 90 days from the signing last week to find a new place to live and move.

For two years Norfolk has seen applications for several projects along the Queensway, including a Wal-Mart, Kelsey's restaurant, new Canadian Tire, an expansion to the Simcoe Mall, an expansion to Zehrs, a new TSC store and the new Turkstra Lumber off Luscombe Drive.

Between the uninhabited homes with boarded up windows on the west side of Norfolk Street North, many of the remaining homes have been rented out. Teri Bonaccorso has been told by her landlord that she has until the end of November to find another home. She wasn't surprised when she was told the news.

"We knew three years ago when we moved in that they might sell the house," she said, adding she's looking for another house to rent because of the space it offers. "I like my yard and not having neighbours on the other side of the wall."

A few doors south of Bonaccorso, Richard Easton uses his backyard to repair cars. His landlord told him earlier this month that he must be out by the end of October. He has already found another place, but it's going to be a huge change going from a house to an apartment. He has rented a separate place in the country to store his tools and continue working on vehicles.

"I'm outside welding now. I won't be able to do that when we move," he said. "I hate it already and we haven't even moved yet."

McSloy's backyard has two large gardens, a back porch and a bricked walkway that leads to her neighbour's yard. She plans to build a new home and has already purchased a vacant lot.

"There have been a lot of changes," she said, speaking of the local neighbourhood but looking around her own backyard. She said change is good and it will mean better things for Simcoe.

"But I'm going to miss this big backyard," she said.

484 Waterloo Street
London, Ontario