Though Stephen has faced his fair share of hardships, he hasn’t lost his ability to laugh at life. Throughout my photo shoot with him, he had my dad and I laughing repeatedly. While I was chatting with Stephen on a bench outside of a bank in Collingwood, one of the bank’s managers stormed towards him—as Stephen was to later put it—“barking like a Chihuahua.” (She had, evidently, been told someone outside the bank had open liquor, and, wrongly, assumed it was Stephen.) Stephen told us that he moved to Collingwood, where he had been born, from Toronto about 14 years ago. Asked what brought him back to Collingwood, he replied, “Um, I don’t know … fire.” “There was a fire where you were in Toronto?” my dad asked him. He replied, “No, hell!” After my dad and I had both stopped laughing, Stephen went on to explain, “I … I… I loved the city. And I … I was in love with everything about it….I’d like to go back to all those things I did, all the good times. And, um … but with those good times came some very, very, miserable times.”
Although when we met Stephen he had just found a place to stay at a boarding house, he told us that he had recently been sleeping down at the waterfront. When my dad asked him if it had been cool down there, this being October after all, he replied, “Yeah, it’s cool in several ways though, because there are … it’s full of geese, and … and the swans, and … so it’s cool in that you’re freezing to death, but there’s some … there’s some … there’s some beauty in it, right?” Stephen told us that, recently, when he had been panhandling, someone walked past him and rudely exclaimed, “Well, you look well fed!” Despite being offended at the gall of the person, Stephen said he bit his tongue. However, still indignant as he recounted this incident to us, he said, “I wanted to say, ‘You son of a *****! I could have been 400 pounds yesterday, you don’t know!” When I told Stephen we were done, he exclaimed, “Well, I hope so! My goodness!”

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