Windsor·Video

How it feels to watch your childhood home be demolished to make way for a bridge

Joe Goulet has spent the past few weeks watching as his childhood home and the rest of Indian Road is transformed into rubble and trucked away.

'I'm absolutely devastated by what it did to the neighbourhood'

This is the final home left to be demolished in phase one of plan to make room for the Ambassador Bridge replacement span. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

A single weather-beaten house with peeling blue siding and curling shingles sits at the far end of Indian Road surrounded by bare earth and the crisscrossed tracks of heavy machinery.

Next to that home is a slight indent in the ground — the only sign of the home that sheltered Joe Goulet and his 10 family members for decades.

Demolition crews have worked methodically for weeks, tearing down the neighbourhood house by house to make way for a second span of the Ambassador Bridge. Now there's little to indicate the thriving community that colours Goulet's memories.

"It's hard to believe there were pools in all the backyards and children in all the yards ... and professionals driving nice cars and schools within a couple blocks," he said. "Now everything looks like it could be a war zone."

Joseph Goulet said it's tough driving past his childhood neighbourhood with and explaining to his wife Marissa and son Evan what it once was. (Joseph Goulet)

The homes have been empty for years, left to rot while families moved out and rodents moved in.

In October the Canadian Transit Company received permits to tear down 33 homes after the city spent years and millions of dollars waging a legal battle to keep them up.

Within moments of the first permit being issued, a large excavator had already torn a chunk out of the first home.

I think a lot of the stuff that went down was sometimes bordering on evil."- Joseph Goulet

Goulet has spent the past few weeks watching the setting of so much of his life transformed into rubble and trucked away.

"It's sad to see," he said. "My childhood home was one of the first to go and I happened to drive by as the big machinery was taking it down with one fell swoop."

Slated for Demo

Just up Indian Road, past Wyandotte Street West, sits a boarded up two-storey home with a cement patch in the backyard beside a basketball net. 

"This was my mom's house," said Adam Wydrzynski, standing outside 631 Indian Road. 

Adam Wydrzynski takes in the sight of his childhood home boarded up, abandoned and left to rot. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

"When my mom owned it ... it was immaculately kept. As many houses were on this street."

Now it's one of more than a dozen homes still standing on on the road that are boarded up and waiting for a tear-down date. 

Adam Wydrzynski tours his old neighbourhood as homes are demolished. 1:37

"It's sad and disappointing," said Wydrzynski, who hardly ever drives down the road he grew up on because of dramatic shift in landscape.

He can remember large families growing up in the area and a few high-profile professors at the University of Windsor who were his neighbours. 

"People think that it was a run-down area and it really wasn't," he said.

Photos are all that remain

Goulet returned to Sandwich Town when he went to university and hasn't left since. He's now raising his own family in a home about a block away from his old address on Indian Road.

He said watching the demolition has left him torn — on one hand things are finally happening and there's a chance the community can heal and grow now that the bridge company "isn't actively trying to destroy the community."

Dozens of homes have been demolished on Indian Road to make way for a replacement span. (Radio-Canada / Marine Lefèvre)

But on the other hand, he has doubts and worries about the bridge company, that many in the area feel has done so much damage.

"I'm absolutely devastated by what it did to the neighbourhood and I think a lot of the stuff that went down was sometimes bordering on evil."

The other day, Goulet walked down his old street and took some pictures of the hole that was once his house.

"I was just trying to feel something," he said. "I don't know."