A poignant memoir of a rough-and-tumble boyhood on the streets of Toronto’s Cabbagetown.
When the Burke family left Ireland, in 1959, they thought they were leaving the trials and tribulations of the Dublin slums behind. Instead, Molly, Bill, and their nine children found the same poverty and hardship awaiting them in the east end of Toronto.
For their sixth-born son, Terry, growing up in Cabbagetown was a daily struggle to survive. Whether it was the bullies on the street or the gangs in Regent Park, fights were an everyday occurrence. School should have been a refuge, but some of the priests and nuns were more terrifying than any street bully. The only escape for Terry was to find his way down into the Don Valley, where he could search the river for muskrat or imagine himself escaping on one of the freight trains, chucking north, up the valley floor.
But a childhood in Cabbagetown didn’t seem to last very long. Forced into adulthood and driven from home in the wake of tragedy, Terry struggled to survive on his own and find a way back to his family.
In this touching memoir, Terry Burke tells a poignant story of hunger, pain, love, and loss, and the enduring bonds of family.