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August 2008

Dufferin Grove Park Newsletter


Volume 9, Nr.8, August 2008

MacGregor Park Wading pool

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

Events in the park


Wednesdays to Sundays 7.30 pm (ends August 17).
'''Location: just west of the field house, near the basketball court.
From artistic director
David Anderson''': “Horse Feathers is about the bygone days of the Dufferin Race Track and the dreams of local residents for a better life. The track was an integral part of this neighbourhood from 1907-1955, and we join the story at the end of an era, when the track is sold to developers to create what is now the Dufferin Mall. This wild romp in the park features large-scale puppetry, stilt walking, commedia dell’arte and live music. Horse Feathers is part of Clay & Paper Theatre’s continuing community project, Building Local Stories, an important initiative that ensures that the local stories of the diverse communities of Toronto are shared and remembered.”

Next year will be a hundred years since the Dufferin Race Track got its permanent charter (amid much controversy). There are many older people in the neighbourhood who still remember the race track. Maybe Horse Feathers will bring back memories and more stories will emerge. Meantime, there’s also a display of old racetrack pictures and stories on the wading pool shed bulletin board, put together by local historian Michael Monastyrskyj.


Saturday August 9, 2pm to 8pm
Location: in the Garrison Creek Hollow (Dufferin side of the park). From organizer Ryan McLaren: There will be frisbee, soccer, a BBQ, sidewalk chalk, a mix CD trade and more! Bring a blanket, read a book, bring a slip'n'slide, bring some gloves and a ball and play catch, whatever you like, all while enjoying 8 amazing bands and musicians. We've got a really diverse cross section of music, from hip hop to avant experimental, Electro-pop to acoustic folk, indie rock to math pop.

click on the image to enlarge it

Dufferin Grove Speakers’ Series #4: Friday August 22, 7.00 pm:

HOW TO BUILD PLAYGROUNDS WHERE KIDS LOVE TO PLAY. Location: near the pizza oven. Rain location: in the rink house.

In the summer of 2000, the Toronto school boards tore out 172 playgrounds.

Around the same time, provincially-funded daycares removed many of their best structures. And the City government began a $6 million “playground safety project” that resulted in the replacement of 49 park playgrounds and the removal of swings, climbers, and other play pieces in hundreds of other park playgrounds. Many parents objected, saying that the new plastic playgrounds and replacement pieces were dull and dumbed down.

All these changes were laid at the door of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), a manufacturers’ group that puts out voluntary “standards” for playground structures every few years. But the CSA denied that their standards had ever been meant to apply to existing structures – only to new equipment. (That restraint was ignored – see the CELOS website for more of the story.)

In the past few years, not much more has been removed. But now the next phase has begun. Dufferin Grove and some other city playgrounds have recently lost half their swings. And in the spring of 2009 the City plans to remove the whole wooden playground structure at Dufferin Grove, and replace it with a different structure.

Before the Parks planners bring the latest manufacturers’ catalogues out to the park, this fourth summer speakers’ series session will consider, in a broader way, what makes a playground exciting for kids. Invitations to contribute have gone out to:

  1. playground users who have photos and stories to share, of wonderful playgrounds they’ve encountered while travelling.
  2. A parent from the Kew Park playground, which was built by fundraising almost $300,000 (according to City staff Mike Schreiner, Parks and Recreation contributed $36,125, then-Councillor Tom Jacobek contributed $30,000, and Kaboom/Home Depot Play Structures, Central Fairbank Lumber, and Barrymore Furniture contributed $190,000 cash donations and $38,500 of in-kind services,).
  3. Parents who helped set up the Dufferin Grove sand play area, which cost $4000.
  4. A staff person from the Spiral Garden, an artist-run playground used by children who are Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Hospital patients, and also used by day camp kids from all over Toronto.

If you want to bring along photos/stories of good playgrounds that your kids love (including the present Dufferin Grove playground) please call the park at 416 392-0913 and leave your number, or e-mail Kids too! Jutta will call you back.

The 2nd Annual Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue

Saturday August 30 noon to 5 pm

The Association of Improvising musicians of Toronto (AIMToronto) in partnership with the Friends of Dufferin Grove Park and Synaptic Circus Productions are having their annual picnic featuring music and dance performances by some of Toronto’s strongest creators. There will be full sets of composed and improvised music interspersed with performances by random groupings of musicians and dancers. There will also be a special park tree tour performance event curated by Scott Thomson.

Eric Dolphy was one of the founding fathers of New Jazz in the mid/late 20th century. The name of this event is also the name of a composition by the late Frank Zappa; possibly a surrealist comment on the absence of public honour bestowed on the masters of North America’s only indigenous Art music. We are not only celebrating ourselves as a community but also the strength and resiliency of our music,
Please come and celebrate with us!


Near the end of June, kids and parents came to the playground one morning and found half the swings removed. City Councillor Adam Giambrone toured the park on June 27, and he was just as puzzled as the playground users were – no one had informed him of the decision to remove playground equipment. We asked Chris Gallop from the councillor’s office to find out (1) whether there are any new rules for how far apart swings are supposed to be and who made those rules and (2) whether the City has ever had an injury claim for an accident involving colliding swings. Chris found out that the Canadian Standards Association issued a press release saying that their latest playground standards are NOT meant to be applied retroactively to existing equipment, only to new.

But the councillor’s office has been unable to get any more information from city staff, since the manager is on holidays, and no one else is in charge of the playgrounds. Nobody home! Councillor Giambrone intends to bring a motion to City Council about this playground problem. In the meantime, CELOS has found out through freedom of information that in 13 years there were only 5 playground injury claims against the City, all of them small. (But there may be more in future – after the playgrounds were “safety-ed” by removing so much equipment, the injury rates gradually started climbing.)

Some playground user comments: From Silvie Varone: What really frustrates me about the disappearing swings is watching the kids disappointment when there aren't enough swings to go around. Now they can't relax because they don't want to miss their turn, and battles ensue when two children reach the swings at the same time. This rarely happened when there were more swings. I guess the 'organization' that thinks it knows what is safest for our children doesn’t think that these social and community aspects are very important.

From Kathryn Scharf: It seems that the swing corner of the park is now not as much of a gathering place for parents and kids – an example of how small physical elements in public space can have quite large impacts on social uses.

Playground users who want to find out more can call or write to City Councillor Adam Giambrone: 416 392-7012, or


Dufferin Grove wading pool is open seven days a week all summer except during stormy weather, from 11 a.m. until 6 pm (with extended hours on days over 29 degrees Celsius). The 2008 wading pool renovation plans will be on display most days. (The renovations are to begin right after Labour Day weekend.) Also posted on the bulletin board are archival photos and old newspaper clippings of the ground-breaking for the original wading pool in 1954. It was called the “Abe Orpen Memorial Wading Pool,” in honour of the original owner of the Dufferin Park Race Track, whose family donated the money to build it. That track, located where the Dufferin Mall is now, drew people from all over Toronto. Betting on horses was a big part of the local economy.

On hot days in summer, Dufferin Grove’s wading pool sometimes gets too crowded. Two other nearby local wading pools are getting help from Dufferin Grove staff this summer. MacGregor Park wading pool on Lansdowne north of College has games and arts activities every weekday from 10 until 4, snacks and coffee available. Their schedule: gardening, Monday from 12-4pm with Yo Utano. Martial Arts, Monday and Friday 6pm-7:30pm, with Andrew Dodd, all ages welcome. Crafts with Flora: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning 10am -11. Tuesday and Friday are dedicated to crocheting, with some of the older women in the neighbourhood joining in the circle. Flora will be starting the kids on finger knitting bracelets, then to crochet, string and then design, also kernel pictures, masks, jewelry, etc. Story Time: Tuesday afternoon, 2pm-3pm. Kids will be working with Charlene turning a local urban legend into a story book, with book reading, performance after 6 weeks. Basketball:Wednesday afternoon, 2pm-3pm. round-up at the courts, basketballs provided, drills, passing, shooting and game.

Campbell Park wading pool on Campbell Ave. north of Wallace Ave. has music for kids (including instrument-making) every Friday at 2.45, snacks available, crafts in the afternoons, and lots of impromptu fun as well.


PIZZA DAYS: Sundays, 1 pm to 3 pm, Wednesdays 12-2pm (weather permitting). From recreation staff Amy Withers Eckert: “It works same way as last year -- Except that for the first time in more than 6 years we have raised the cost from $2 to $2.50 per pizza as the requested donation (you get a lump of dough, some tomato sauce, and cheese, and you can pick toppings from the park gardens when they’re growing there). If you plan to bring a big group (more than 9 people altogether) please call ahead to warn the staff 416-392-0913 or email”

Pizza times for School Groups/ Daycares/ Groups: Groups can make special bookings on Tuesdays from 1-2pm or 2-3pm, or on Wednesdays (11 am to noon, before the public pizza time). It costs $60 for staffing, plus the regular $2.50 per pizza. If you can’t afford that, park staff will work out a trade with you. Birthday parties with pizza: You can book an hour on Sundays before or after the public pizza times (i.e. birthday party bookings are at 12pm or 3 pm on Sundays). It costs $60 for staffing, plus the regular $2.50 per pizza. If you can’t afford that, park staff will work out a trade with you. To book: contact staff at 416-392-0913 or email

FRIDAY NIGHT SUPPER by the oven, 6 p.m This is also a weekly fundraiser for park programs. All the surplus goes to adding more programming at the playground in the summer. A win-win! General information: Everyone welcome. No reservations are necessary. Park cooks use ingredients from the Thursday farmers’ market. Prices: By donation. Suggested donations (to cover cost of materials plus park program fundraising): soup $2, main dish $6 (choice of meat or vegetarian/vegan), salad $2, dessert $2 - $3 depending. Cooks this year (taking turns) are Mary Sylwester, Anna Bekerman, Claire Freeman-Fawcett, Anna Galati, Matt Leitold, and Yo Utano. Supper is served until 7.30 p.m.


The park bakers need more wood, they don’t want to use skids anymore. Carpenters with wood scraps, consider trading your scraps for bread! Call 416 392-0913, or e-mail


For the summer and fall, there are two small-group campfire locations – centre path and south path. The centre path fire circle is in the middle of the park, and the south path fire circle is beside the cob courtyard. The park’s recreation staff book the cooking fire times. They also give fire safety training and are available to help start/end your fire. You can reach them at 416-392-0913 or email

CELOS regularly maintains and provides grills, a cast-iron stand (if you want to cook more than marshmallows or hot dogs on a stick), pots and pans for campfire permits. Suggested donation of $10 for upkeep. Park staff will give you water, pails, and a shovel. You have to bring your own wood and be quiet and respectful of park neighbours.


Community SOCCER and CRICKET times Recreation staff program the soccer field for community soccer and cricket from Saturday 2pm to Sunday night. Neighbourhood groups can book times (at no charge) with recreation staff by calling the rink house at 416 392-0913 or emailing Important note: all community games are open for drop-in as well. From recreation staff Mayssan Shuja: “There’s time left on Saturdays – on Sundays there’s women’s soccer in the morning, Brazilian soccer (lots of Brazilians in this neighbourhood!), cricket from 4 to 6, possibly a kids group as well.”

Open FRISBEE game, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 5.30-7.30 From Frisbee player Max Cameron: “My friends and I are usually playing frisbee on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons (5:30 - 7:30 ish)... it'd be cool to get more people out, please post this.”

Community BALL HOCKEY times Recreation staff have programmed community games on Monday, Thursday and Saturdays so far. There are still free ball hockey times available on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 5-9pm available, as well as on Saturdays and Sundays. People can book game times with recreation staff by e-mailing or calling the rink house at 416 392-0913. All community games are open for drop-in players.

Ball hockey for women: The Women of Winter take the heat. Mondays 7pm From organizer Deirdre Norman: This game is for all women of all levels of experience. Some equipment will be required. For details and/or to register contact Deirdre Norman at


12:30pm-1pm - 5 and under, 1:15pm-2pm - 6-8 year olds – $20 for the month. 2pm-2:45pm - All Ages Dance/Instrument Jam (appropriate for kids too young for other classes or those who are into less structure and more play) $15 for the month.


Friday August 8 from 3 to 8pm, Campbell Park has a neighbourhood “pool party” with a BBQ, music, and lots of free activities for kids (including slip and slide, “Fear Factor” with Charlene, dance class with Eroca)

MacGregor Park: free movie nights on two Saturdays: August 17 and 23, 7pm, and PWYC BBQ.

Dance in My Backyard! Backyard dance festival with Eroca Nicol and her dance company. August 23 2.30 pm, at 171 Havelock Street.


Summer 2008 is another year when there will be no kids’ bio-toilet near the playground. Although the City gave cob builder Georgie Donais a building permit, the design worked out between City Parks supervisor Peter Leiss and the architect he retained was for a small steel-beam bunker that was unsuitable for community-built construction. And cob construction is not yet explicitly recognized in the Ontario building code. However it is recognized in other jurisdictions, and there may be progress here soon. Meantime the $8000 bio-toilet donated to the park is in storage.

The construction fence is gone for now and the top of the rammed-earth foundation has been turned into an oval cob bench. (A recent visitor from New Mexico said that similar low benches around excavations can be found in his state – prehistoric holy sites!) Hopefully the oval bench will be the sitting-place for many good conversations. And when permission comes to build the cob housing for the bio-toilet, park users like those who helped build the cob courtyard (500 pairs of hands by the end) will be able to help create another shapely, ecologically ingenious building.


…to Rebecca who works at the pool, and Alternative Grounds Coffee Company, for getting the park another coffee urn …to the Brazilian soccer group that painted temporary soccer lines on rink pad

Report on the Dufferin Grove Park Speakers’ Series #3 ''Granny Flats:

How to build them in Toronto, with designer Rohan Walters and home owner Alison Hall. This was held on July 2. The session was not well-attended, but a Star reporter saw the neighbourhood posters and did a full-page story the following week. Then CBC Vancouver picked it up and interviewed Rohan. It turns out that the mayor of North Vancouver lives in a granny flat, and CBC radio interviewed him too. He said the city planners there are more supportive of such flats than Toronto’s planners. Now CBC radio plans to broadcast the story nationally, and other stations have picked up the story too. Meantime, for those park users who couldn’t make it, some of Rohan and Alison’s presentation is mounted on the bulletin board at the back of the wading pool shed. It addresses how to change the city’s no to granny flats to yes'', for people in the neighbourhood who are getting old or whose parents are old, and who want an alternative to institutions.


Everyone knows how up-and-down the weather has been this summer, and many are grumbling. But the trees are not grumbling! Last summer many trees in city parks suffered, and many newly planted trees died for lack of water. This summer the trees look wonderful, including the thirty new trees Forestry planted at Dufferin Grove Park the year before last, and the two “little forests” they added last year, next to Dufferin Street. And the soccer fields are not dusty anymore.


Want to try your green thumb? Drop-in gardening hours are Saturdays at 2 pm, with recreation staff Anna Bekerman. There are three park food gardens, four perennial flower beds, and six native-species gardens, as well as the gardens around the cob courtyard. To contact Anna:


Market manager Anne Freeman sends out a weekly market e-newsletter (to get on her list, visit the market page of Here’s what farmer Jessie Sosnicki wrote for Anne’s market news a few weeks ago: “We had a close call today! Dug our potatoes, harvested sweet Spanish onions, beets, chard, and picked as many tomatoes as we could find (sun sugar, cherry, roma, slicing and heirlooms), and then the storm moved in overhead. Ben's mom and I washed and graded the fresh veg, while I put our other two workers to work trimming garlic. (The garlic has been lifted from the soil, now we trim it up and let it dry out. Lots of big garlic bulbs for tomorrow.) Anyhow, it was a wall of rain. Some of the worst we've seen. Strong, strong winds and a mass downpour. Then on the tin barn roof we all heard that dreaded sound of hail. Long story short, just a wee bit of hail, minimal damage. Just went out this afternoon to pull up baby leeks and fresh big bunches of dill and am sinking in the mud! The beets, sweet corn and other crops are leaning to the east from the storm. Have to wait till Thursday morning to pick our zucchini, some blossoms and cucumbers! Mother Nature was kind to us today, we've had first hand experience with devastating hail storms before....See all at the market!”


Newsletter prepared by: Jutta Mason

Illustrations: Jane LowBeer

Published by: CELOS

Web site: Henrik Bechmann, Aseel Al Najim

Park phone: 416 392-0913

Park web site:


This month’s newsletter is sponsored by: Edward Cayley

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