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May 2009

Dufferin Grove Park Newsletter


Volume 10, Nr.5, May 2009

Spring in the park

For an independent community email list service and discussion group, see dufferingrovefriends


4th Annual Dufferin Grove Clothing Swap, May 9, 10.

From organizers Eroca Nicols and Silvie Varone: “It's that time again! Clean out your closets and come on down to the swap! All clothing leftover will be donated.

10am-2pm Saturday May 9--Drop off clean clothes preferably organized into men's, women's, children's. Bring in 10 or more items and receive 10 tickets.

10am-2pm Sunday May 10--Come to the swap with your 10 tickets and get a "new" item for each ticket.”

To volunteer or for more information: 416 392-0913 or


Friday Night Supper never took an after-winter break this year – the park cooks were having too good of a time cooking. The supper is a City recreation program – good food from the farmers’ market, under the open sky whenever possible, in the company of neighbours.

The suppers have moved outside around the bake-oven for the summer. There is always soup, a vegetarian or vegan entrée, a meat entrée, a side dish, a salad, and dessert. There are always mini-pizzas, organic hot dogs, and park cookies, too, for those who are less adventuresome eaters. Most of the groceries are bought at the organic farmers’ market on Thursday, and most of the cooking is done in the two outdoor wood-fired bake-ovens. It’s very delicious food, and conforms largely to the 100-mile “locavore” boundary. There’s a suggested donation ($6 for the main dish, $2 for soup, $2.50 for dessert etc.), all of which goes back into the park, and to pay for the groceries. But if you can’t spare the cash, donate at some other time – nobody goes away hungry! (Of course, if you feel like donating more than the suggested amount, that’s fine too.)

Friday Night Supper after-dinner talks: postponed until fall

After trying the after-supper talks outside at the beginning of May, it’s pretty clear that it’s too noisy and too distracting. We’ll try again in the fall. These are the sessions that have been postponed until October:

Emergency readiness: Donna Cowan (president of the neighbourhood group DigIn) will introduce the discussion: how can we help each other in this neighbourhood if there’s another big blackout? A pandemic? (To help research this talk or contribute your knowledge, email

Composting, with Mike Nevin: the master composter at Foodshare and composting mentor to Dufferin Grove gardeners will describe how to turn food scraps and garden waste into beautiful soil, and how to deal with the critters who try to eat the compost.


A few years ago, at Thorncliffe Park, a City consultant held a meeting about parks – what would newcomers like to see improved in their neighbourhood parks?

The newcomers said that what they wanted was probably unachievable. They wanted fewer rules and more liveliness. They wanted parks with tables and benches where they could picnic with family and friends on any sunny day without worrying that a bylaw officer would come by and ask for a permit. “But Canadians don’t like that,” they said. “Canadians like a rule for everything, everything organized a long time before, and quiet.” They said that in our parks they badly miss the interesting, diverse scenes in the public plazas back home. Their comments were not unfriendly, just resigned. Parks are for regulated activities, not for spontaneous occasions of neighbourhood sociability.

Were they right or wrong? Maybe a bit of both. Many city parks are lively with picnics and frisbee games and uncles playing soccer around the trees with nephews and nieces. At the same time, in the past decade the pendulum at City Hall, and at Parks, Forestry and Recreation, has moved ever more to central regulation. This may be leading to a kind of bureaucratic despair – if staff are overwhelmed by the tasks of keeping up with central task lists of thousands of parks items, it begins to seem easier to turn staff attention to enforcing standardized rules, citywide, all the same everywhere. No surprises, no extra trash from sudden eruptions of local sociability, no impromptu music jams, no unscheduled pickup ball hockey games: “where is your permit?”

Centralization leads to big projects like the 3-1-1 line, to track every pothole and broken branch and rink schedule, which so far has cost over $60 million and is not yet launched. Locally, at Dufferin Grove, centralization leads to (one example) a three-week delay in resetting the lights for the rink-pad basketball hoops (on-site park staff know how to do this but must wait for a work order to be centrally processed and executed). Frayed tempers abound. What to do? Steer public space back in the direction of local. Resetting the compass to lively and local is the way to go, for park users.


Etienne Brule Park campfire site See more

There are two different ways to have a campfire in a city park. One is to get a permit from the central permit office, for one of the bonfire sites in a large park in the ravines or on Toronto Island. The permit costs $72.61 and the insurance cost is tied to the number of people – for example, if there were 20 people coming, the insurance would cost $54.

Firewood is included in the price. A campfire fee of $126.61 means that it would work for larger groups or a corporate function, but not so much for a regular-size gathering of a group of families or friends on a tight budget.

With persistent encouragement from Dufferin Grove friends, the City has kept another approach available – campfires run as recreation programs. That means that people who want to cook over a campfire or sing around it, can have such a fire, with a $10 donation for upkeep of the campfire equipment: -- the trivet, frying pans, pots, and marshmallow/hot dog sticks. The reasoning is that such campfires add friendliness to the park, and increase park safety (more “eyes on the park”). Often food is shared beyond the group that planned the gathering. And a campfire is a beautiful sight. If that’s the kind of campfire you would like, contact the park staff at 416 391-0913, or e-mail them at You have to bring your own firewood, though.


Sundays start on May 4, 1-3 pm

Wednesday start on June 3, 12 – 2 pm

From park staff: “It works the same as last year, except that for the first time in more than 6 years we’re suggesting $2.50 per pizza as a donation (you get a lump of dough, some tomato sauce, and cheese, and you can pick toppings from the park gardens when they’re ready. If you plan to bring a big group (more than 9 people) please call ahead to warn the park staff.” Schools, daycares, or other groups can come on Wednesdays between 11 and 12. It costs $60 for the extra staffing, plus the $2.50 cost per pizza. If your group is a birthday party, you can arrange for extra staffing and pizza on Sundays, from 12 to 1 or 3 to 4. If you can’t afford the cost, let the park staff know. These pizza times are a recreation program, and the staff turn nobody away.

For any group, it’s important to remember that the ovens are in public space. If a park visitor is curious about how the ovens work, or someone is homeless and hungry, they are also welcomed. More information: 416 392-0913 or


Last fall, after the wading pool closed, it got a facelift, and the plumbing was reworked. As part of the same project, the park’s main thoroughfare was paved and two new paved access paths were added for wheelchairs and strollers.

The contractor was slow – nine days of on-site work were spread out from September to December. But the contractor also took care to do a nice job, for example, adding a stone chess table that was in better shape than the one it replaced, and carefully moving the “Abe Orpen” sign from the old drinking fountain, cleaning it, then re-attaching it to the new cement water chamber. (Abe Orpen was the owner of the Dufferin Race Track, where the Dufferin Mall is now, and he paid for the first wading pool, in1955.)

The work still to be done is: enlarging the wading pool drain and covering the pool surface with a new coating. This is predicted to take at least to the end of May, and – given the speed of the last portion of the project – maybe quite a bit longer. Parks management originally said there would be no water for the cob café, and no sandpit waterplay, until the entire wading pool job was done. However, with City Councillor Adam Giambrone’s intervention, this decision was changed, and the water will be turned on for May 22 at the latest.

Once the wading pool work is done, it will be ready to operate. But this year it seems once again that Parks management has taken the position, “no opening of the wading pool before June 27, even during earlier heat waves.” Much like the winter-time outdoor ice rink opening issues, the city’s approach to using the neighbourhood wading pools needs some work. The principle that can be helpful here is “let’s use what we already have.” Turning on the water in a few wading pools during early heat waves costs very little, since the city is well-supplied with such pools already, and they are very simple to operate. For updates on the wading pool, see


The park bakers need more wood to bake the bread and the pizzas, and cook the community suppers. Carpenters with wood scraps, consider trading that wood for bread (or for supper)! Call 416 392-0913, or e-mail


Cob courtyard: Everything requires maintenance, which can sometimes include renovation. The cob fireplace, part of the courtyard wall by the playground, never worked well. So it’s time to take it down and bridge the space. The removal has begun and Jenny Cook will be filling in the gap beginning the first weekend of June. If you want to “get muddy” and learn how it’s done, contact the park staff at or leave a message on the rink house phone: 416 392-0913.

The interesting thing about altering a cob structure is there’s no waste – the plaster is lime and can be sprinkled in the gardens, and the walls are made of clay, which can be broken up, soaked in a bucket, and then re-used to build another wall.

Cob bio-toilet: There is currently no support from the City to build this structure. The plans as commissioned by the Parks branch would not allow a community-built structure, and to have it built by a contractor would be prohibitively expensive.

The $8000 never-used donated bio-toilet, however, is in storage and ready to install with a nice wooden frame structure around it. Park friends have asked Councillor Giambrone if he can help make this happen. If city councillors consider the standard price tag for a park toilet: $600,000 – and the price tag for the Exhibition Place rainwater-flush-toilet pilot project (over $900,000) – the bio-toilet seems a pretty good pilot project for public places where money is scarce but people still need a toilet.

Hopefully, conversations in the playground this spring will lead to finding a solution, for installing the long-awaited playground toilet.

Cob master-builder Georgie Donais and her family have taken on a year of being the “family-in-residence” at Kimbercote Farm, near Collingwood. From the Kimbercote website, “For thirty years, Kimbercote has been working with social and environmental groups, the labour movement, educators, families, grass-roots organizations and the non-profit sector. Our organizational roots date even further back to 1959, making us one of the oldest active social justice organizations in the province.” The century-old renovated farmhouse provides meeting and accommodation space for up to 125 people, and Georgie says one of their interests is increasing rural-urban links. A timely idea! Hopefully Georgie and her family will make a bridge between Dufferin Grove and Kimbercote, initially through some reports back to this newsletter.

A GIFT FOR THE PARK: funds to fix and paint park picnic tables and benches

Bruce Whitaker and Rodney Litigio, who have a company called, came by the park at the beginning of May, to donate a check for $500 for much-needed paint and wooden slats to repair the picnic tables and benches at Dufferin Grove Park. Last winter they donated kids' skates to the Dufferin Rink skate rental program. In Parkdale they've paid for additional basketball hoops in a community centre, and sponsored a soccer team in Roncesvalles.

Bruce (who used to live right at the edge of the park) and Rodney started three years ago. Bruce says "we wanted to make it much easier and less costly for a buyer to buy a home and for a home owner to renew services. Services include mortgages, real estate, inspection, home insurance, life insurance, legal, energy audit, moving and phone/internet/cable. Not only do we provide the services but act as a concierge to ensure the whole experience goes smoothly. For every buyer we offer some kind of donation to the neighborhood where the buyer lives. For every Dufferin Grove resident who transacts with them, we will also be donating a tree to the park." That's a pretty inspiring way to do business.


For at least four years, Tere Ouelette, the owner of Scooter Girl Toys at 187 Roncesvalles, has been helping to cover the printing cost of the newsletter. We get it printed at Quality Control Printing at Bloor and St.George, which is not only the cheapest place to get it done but also the friendliest. When they’re not busy, that Vietnamese staff there always help us fold the newsletter by hand (cheaper) – for the tenth year now. And they always make sure that it’s printed well.

But even though the printing is cheap, it still costs money. Tere Ouelette is one of the people who helps out with that because, she says, she believes parks like this one are really important. We asked her whether, despite our economic troubles, people are still being kind to their children and buying them toys. She says, yes. Good thing, because that wonderful toy store is full of things to charm a kid:



During the last week of April, there was at least one community meeting every evening, about the Metrolinx plan to increase the rail corridor traffic from 60 to 350 diesel trains a day. Neighbourhoods all up and down the rail corridor joined the Clean Train Coalition (go to, and began to map out their course. The first step was to send many letters to the provincial politicians on May 4 and 5. At Dufferin Grove Park, over the course of four days, 1109 letters were collected, put in individually addressed envelopes, sealed, and then hand-delivered to the Ontario Legislature. Letters were collected at the farmers market, Friday Night Supper, and the playground, aided by volunteers Genie Davis, Robert F. Kennedy, Michael Edwards, Danyelle Boily, Percy, Davey and Nick White, Belinda Cole, Gretel Meyer Odell, Lea Ambros and Kate Cayley.

The “mailmen” were Percy, Davey and Nick White, using a second-hand Canada Post canvas bag lent by Michelle and Geoff Webb.

Letters reiterating the government’s position were sent out in return, to those who wrote. Meantime the meetings continue. From the community volunteers who met with GO officials about the West Toronto Diamond Grade Separation Project: “We were informed that vibratory hammers would not be replacing the diesel explosion pile drivers, as originally suggested in GO's May 6 update. As well, there has been a decision not to replace diesel explosion pile drivers with augers for the centre line of piles to be driven beginning in September.

There is no schedule for other noise-reducing measures that may or may not be implemented. As a result of this, we have asked the Canadian Transportation Agency to initiate mediation right away and to issue an injunction to stop construction until the matter is resolved. We have also asked the CTA to help the community by providing an independent expert to advise us.”


From Gretel Meyer Odell: “Join us for our 3rd annual yard sale day! An opportunity for socializing, meeting your neighbours, browsing for bargains and recycling of treasures. This year the yard sale ‘catchment’ area has expanded East towards Dufferin Street. Residents of streets south of Dundas between Lansdowne and Dufferin (to the railroad tracks) are encouraged to seize this opportunity to hold a yard sale on your property.

Eighteen Participating Streets: Brock, Lansdowne, St. Clarens & Sheridan (between Dundas & the tracks) Wyndham Street, Delaney Crescent, Mechanic Street, Shirley Street, Northern Place, Hickson Street, Norfolk Street, Florence Street, Gordon Street, Bank Street, Middleton Street, Frankish Avenue, Marshall Street, Brockton Avenue.

Whether you choose to sell, raise money for charity, give your treasures away or swap with your neighbours, is up to you. The goal of the day is participation! If you don’t feel like holding a sale, it’s a great chance to stroll the neighbourhood and enjoy the spring day with your neighbours.

Kids are encouraged to try their hand at small enterprise – lemonade stands, cookie stands, toy sales, games of skill – whatever they can devise to interest and engage the passersby. Yard Sale day is a great opportunity for kids to find a special gift for Mother’s Day, while shopping ‘locally’ and within their budget.

Embrace the spirit of recycling by keeping your trash out of landfill and allowing it to transform into someone else’s treasure. Clean out your basement. Get rid of that clutter that’s driving you crazy. Artists, craftspeople, musicians, bakers, local businesses – use this opportunity to share your offerings with the neighbourhood and promote yourself.

If you are holding a sale on your lawn and would like to have a charity pick up your leftover goods after the sale, please call Farzana (416) 682-8974 and she will add your address to the list.”


From Colin Coates, a parent at Ossington Old Orchard (OOOPS) School:

“Calling all Ossiington Old Orchard School alumni (as well as the earlier Ossington and Old Orchard schools)....

We invite alumni, alumni parents, former teachers and staff to the OOOPS 50th Reunion on Friday 19 June 2009 at 5.00 pm - 7.30 pm. Come see old friends and see how the school (or you) have changed... (Yes, the water fountains really are that low!)

Visit old friends, view the school, check out the retro races at the famous OOOPS Fun Fair, dance at the 1960s sock hop and, of course, eat cake!

Please spread the word to other alumni, and confirm your presence at Please also send by email or bring in to the school a picture of you during your time at OOOPS. If we have your photo by 1st June, we will make you a button with your picture on it -- so your old classmates will recognise you!”


Michael Monastryskyj continues to post his court visits – he’s following local arrests through court until resolution. His latest news is that Shahin Pirouzi, a man charged with the murder of his Campbell Avenue housemate over a year ago, has had the charge withdrawn because he could not have been calling 911 from a phone booth and attacking the victim at the same moment. More information:


On April 28, Michael Edwards sent this note to the neighbourhood e-mail list: “I just returned today from Germany. I bought my children a boomerang there. They threw it parallel to the ground it zipped along then made a right turn and flew straight up and lodged in a tree about 60 feet up. I spent about two hours in Dufferin Grove park this evening throwing stones at it with no luck. I'm wondering if there are any archery experts out there who could help me to retrieve it. Any ideas welcome.”

Various pieces of advice were posted to the e-list. One person said that although the Germans are a clever people, they may not have figured out yet how to make boomerangs. Another person wrote: ''“My suggestion is shoes. Shoes on a rope are very effective in this situation. Birkenstocks work too.”'' Another person suggested trapping and training squirrels for boomerang retrieval. Then on May 1, Michael wrote that his boomerang had come back, washed out by the rain from the previous night. This news prompted Daphne Ballon to write a poem for the e-list:

boomerang come back to me/ you landed in the highest tree/ I trained a squirrel I tossed a shoe/ but now I don't know what to do
my boomerang came back to me/ flushed by rain from yon 60 ft tree/ so it's true by golly they always come back/ by gravity if spin they lack


From organizer Hasanka Ranasinghe: “We’ll be playing on the soccer field again, with a modified tennis ball, called a tape ball because it has one or more layers of tape wrapped around it to make it slightly heavier, faster and give it less bounce. Naturally, everyone is welcome to join our games.”

Soccer field - no booking on Saturday.
11:30-12:30 Kids Soccer
12:30-2pm Women's Soccer
2-4pm Ultimate Frisbee
4-6pm Cricket from the baseball diamond.
Hockey Pad: Sunday 8-10pm LGBT Ball Hockey
June 15th Women's Ball Hockey 7-9pm Mondays


Thirteen years ago, Katie and Bob Price donated a Maytag stove for the rinkhouse kitchen, and that was the start of the zamboni café. Although it was a domestic stove, Maytags of that era were very durable. That hardy stove turned out cookies and muffins and hot chocolate for all these years, even though in the wintertime it was on all day without a break. Whenever there was a problem, neighbourhood appliance repairman Frank from Romco Appliance Repair was always able to fix it.

Until now. The rink house Maytag has become just too tired and creaky. It often burns Mary Sylwester’s muffins because the heat is so uneven. The oven door doesn’t close properly, and the oven handle was long ago replaced by a macramé rope pull. (Yes, really.) The rink house needs a brand new stove, maybe a commercial type that can stand such heavy use. The funds are not there right now, but maybe park users can raise the money this spring. To prepare, the park cooks are asking for advice: what are the merits of a commercial versus domestic stove, and does anyone know a good source? Or (might as well dream) – does anyone know a restaurant that’s upgrading and has an excellent rinkhouse-size electric stove they’d like to give the park as a present?


Spring is here! If you want to find your green thumb, contact garden coordinator Anna Bekerman at or call the park at 416 392-0913 and leave Anna a message. Everyone welcome! The garden club meets at the park food gardens on Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 11 a.m. Everything is happening so fast now, that times may change – check with Anna before coming out. The garden activities are digging, planting, attending to the excellent compost bins, learning and swapping plant lore, and (later) harvesting vegetables for the family pizza days, the park cafés and community dinners. Volunteer gardeners eat free, of course.

The cherry trees and the serviceberry bush are in bloom, the strawberry plants are setting fruit, the sweet peas have sprouted – it’s a wonderful time to be gardening.


From market manager Anne Freeman: “The arrival of spring has seen a surge in signups for the market news, and we've now hit about 700 addresses on our weekly news list. We're very pleased to have so many people taking an interest in the market. This week, Laura Sabourin of Feast of Fields vineyard and orchard in Jordan Station sends word that her peach trees are in bloom. And already at the market, the vendors' tables are getting greener every week.” To get on the market news list, go to the market page at


Newsletter prepared by: Jutta Mason

Illustrations: Jane LowBeer

Published by: CELOS

Web sites: Henrik Bechmann, Aseel Al Najim,

Park phone: 416 392-0913

Park web site:


May newsletter sponsors: Scooter Girl Toys, Edward Cayley.

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