The first time I saw one of Toronto’s fabled albino squirrels was sometime in the mid-90s when my wife and I first started dating. She’d taken such an interest in them (how could you not?) that each time we rode our bikes past the grounds of 1001 Queen St. West (formerly 999) we were on the lookout with hopes of seeing them. One day, she hopped off her bike, camera in hand, and caught a snapshot of one. In the late 90s, we moved from Parkdale to Little Portugal (still a ways for a squirrel), where I’d happened upon a dead one on the sidewalk just north of our place. This was a sad moment, as we’d only ever seen two or three of them at one time.
A couple of months back, whilst visiting my video rental shop, I noticed that a newer side street on the far end of the 1001 block had been named for the park’s former residents. It’s been years since I’ve seen an albino squirrel, and wondered if they are still around, perhaps displaced by construction over the years. Looking at the above photo I snapped today, I can’t help but think of the old suburban axiom: the streets are named after the wildlife that used to live there.