Caribana

In the summer of 1977, almost a year after Elvis’s death, I met my father for the first time. While many were still mourning the passing of “the King,” in Toronto, we were preparing for a party that promised to be hotter than the record temperatures that divided the city into those who loved the heat and those who didn’t. Almost everything I knew about Albert Godfrey was twenty years out of date. His lean, compact build, easy smile, slick razor cut, natty clothes and Ray-Ban shades had been captured in a snapshot taken on a hot day in 1958, not long before I was born. For me, those details were as close as I thought I’d ever come to knowing my father. Until that August morning when I rode the revolving door into the Sheraton Centre Hotel.

There he was, looking around the lobby anxiously. I could hardly breathe. When he saw me, a grin hijacked his face; I hadn’t seen anyone that happy in a long time. I swallowed hard, my stomach churning with fear and excitement, my throat dry.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 2. Purchase the book to read the full piece.

Toronto locations referenced in this piece

“We detoured through Osgoode Hall, which looked like both paradise and prison with its pristine gardens and high, spiked black iron fence . . . ” —Osgoode Hall

“Outside, people strolled down the middle of Queen Street. It was one of 
the few days in the year when Toronto forgot its dull Protestant roots . . . ” —Queen Street

“Across from the hotel, colourful booths dotted the usually grey Nathan Phillips Square, and the air smelled of curry and fried fish. The clock at Old City Hall chimed, but it couldn’t compete with the lively steel drums we could hear from two blocks away . . . ” —Nathan Phillips Square