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May 2008

Dufferin Grove Park Newsletter


Volume 9, Nr.5, May 2008

Rink House Tulips

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


“No One Is Illegal” community fair, Saturday May 3, 2 pm

From organizer Macdonald Scott: “For the fourth year in a row, No One Is Illegal will be holding their Status For All! Stop the Deportations! community fair at Dufferin Grove to celebrate Mayday. Featuring music, food, children's activities, and more, the fair begins at around 2pm in the dip at the south end of the park. Join us beforehand for a march for immigrant rights, meeting at noon at Christie Pits. The march and fair will be focusing on the new proposals for immigration laws which will allow the Minister to set limits on who gets to come to Canada without consultation with communities or even with parliament.” For more information,

Annual “Toronto Reclaiming Community” Maypole Dance and Beltane ritual, Sunday May 4, 2.30 – 8pm.

From organizer Kim Fry: “ Beltane, also known as May Eve, May Day and Walpurgis Night, happens at the beginning of May. It celebrates the height of Spring and the flowering of life. From 2.30 to 4.30 pm we will have children’s activities in the park. The ritual begins at 5 pm. There will be a maypole dance followed by a feast. Please bring: flowers and decorations for altars, materials for flower crowns, either a 25 foot ribbon for the maypole (if possible) or a 15 foot ribbon for the children’s maypole (we wil have extras) and contributions for the potluck. We will pass a hat for contributions to cover the costs….We will be making offerings to thank the trees so if you have something to share, please bring it with you.” Everyone Welcome. For more information call Kim at 647 406-0664.

Bruce Whitaker’s third annual “The Grove’s Clothes” CLOTHING SWAP at the park.

Saturday May 10 (drop-off) and Sunday May 11 (exchange day).

Bruce writes: “Clean your closet of those clothes that are perfectly fine but never get worn, and do your part for the environment through swap rather than purchase. Find some really groovy clothes and meet your neighbors. The swap rules are just like last year. 10 items (washed and on hangers) will get you 10 tickets in return. You can bring more but you will get a maximum of 10 tickets. You can bring less and will get tickets equal to the number of items Everything left over will be donated to shelters.” Park staff Eroca Nicols headed the sorting crew last year, and will do it again this year, filling the rink house with a beautiful display.

Friday May 16 Dufferin Grove GARDENING FUNDRAISER and first FRIDAY NIGHT SUPPER of the season, 6 - 8 pm.

The park’s volunteer gardeners need soaker hoses, new hoes, seeds and bedding plants for the Dufferin Grove gardens. All proceeds from the first Friday Night Supper will go to buying these supplies. There will be a display of archival garden photos from Dufferin Grove, as well as information about other local community gardens in parks and roadside margins.

Third annual NORWEGIAN CONSTITUTION DAY parade and picnic, Saturday May 17, 12 noon to 3 p.m.

Location: centre of the park, near the playground. Hosted by park neighbours Arne Nes and Robin Crombie. Arne says that about 200 Norwegians living in Toronto celebrate Norway’s biggest holiday, Norwegian Constitution Day, every May. The schedule: NOON: Welcome. 12:30 PM: Parade, 30-45 minutes parade on the neighbourhood streets including a small stretch on Bloor St. 1:30 PM: 17. Mai tale/speech. 1:45 PM: National Anthem. 2:00 PM: special guest performer. 2:30 PM: Games for the Kids. 3:00 PM: Raffle. From Arne Nes: “There will be Waffles, Ice cream, Hot-Dogs, 17. mai sløyfer T-Shirts etc. Non-Norwegians are welcome!” See gallery

Roller Derby fundraiser YARD SALE AND BAKE SALE, May 17, 9am - 1pm

From Liz Vanderkleyn: “I am a member of the Toronto Roller Derby team and also part of Team Canada Roller Derby. Team Canada is a group of 18 girls travelling from across our great land, over to the UK to participate in a tournament with Glasgow/London/Birmingham. We are a team comprised of women from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario and we are trying to raise funds to help us with our expenses, by holding a yard sale/fundraiser/bake sale in the park. Our trip is on June 3 - June 13th.”

Dufferin Grove Speakers’ Series #2: NEIGHBOURHOOD HISTORY, May 23, 7.30 pm.

By the pizza oven (in the rink house in bad weather). This session will show the research of CELOS worker Michael Monastyrskyj, who has been gathering local history pictures and articles on this area. The presentation focuses on the economic history of the Wallace railway triangle lands and Dundas and Bloor Streets, plus old maps and photos of the park, and of the surrounding neighbourhood. All presentations are limited to 20 minutes in length – the rest is conversation.


CELOS (The CEntre for LOcal research into public Space) has been attending court, to follow up on local arrests. The inspiration for this is the work of Norwegian criminologist Nils Christie. Christie says that communities are a quilt, with conflicts forming part of what may bring us together as well as what drives us apart. All neighbourhood stories are important – not only the happy ones. The local stories that CELOS court visitors are following at the moment are as follows: one woman charged with drug dealing and assault, one company charged with illegal wine selling, one man charged with the fatal stabbing of his housemate in a fight, three men charged with possession of a gun in front of a strip club, one man charged with burning trash cans and a garage last year, and one man charged with sexual assault. To find out more, go to and click on research, then on courts, then on court visits working notes.

The court visits are all downtown – a gripping drama, partly like a cattle market, partly a layered, true-life tale of suffering and endurance. Not only the victims suffer, not only the people awaiting trial in jail, not only the families of people in trouble, but also the police officers, who must sit and wait for hours sometimes, for a case that gets 2 minutes of court time, only to be postponed again.

Courtrooms are public and Toronto’s citizens can attend any case they choose, if they want to learn more about how the justice system works. But so few people go to the hearings that the judges and the crown and defense lawyers are quite evidently astonished when they find an audience of even one unrelated person.



David Anderson and Krista Dalby of Clay and Paper Theatre are working on a play about the Dufferin Race Track that was across the street from the park until 1955. The Cooking Fire Theatre Festival, from June 18 to 22, will include a group coming direct from Portugal this year and also (at last) a one-man show by park neighbour and well-known actor Alon Nashman.


Summer Arts for children: In collaboration with CELOS, artists Gillian Tremain and Jeannie Soley are once again offering a four day art camp for children between 8 and 12: July 1st to July 4th , 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. They write: “This 4-day camp will focus on printmaking and a collaborative weaving project. The children will learn how to design and cut a lino block, print it, make repeat patterns, and explore a variety of techniques and printing surfaces. The weaving will be a whimsical summer creation using natural materials such as grasses, twigs, leaves, nests and fresh flowers. We will hang our weaving in the park for everyone’s delight.” For more information, contact them at or


PIZZA DAYS resume on Sunday May 4, 1 pm to 3 pm (weather permitting).

Also on Wednesdays 12-2pm (starting May 21) and Tuesdays 12-2pm (starting June 17). From recreation staff Amy Withers Eckert: “It works the 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:

You can book a time adjoining public pizza times: 2:00pm-3:00pm on Tuesdays, or 11:00am-12:00pm on Wednesdays. 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

Birthday parties with pizza:

You can book on Sundays before or after the public pizza times (i.e. birthday party bookings are at 12:oopm-1:00pm or 3:00pm-4:00pm 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 staff 416-392-0913 or email

Bad Weather: From Amy: “In very bad weather Pizza Days are cancelled. Staff monitor the weather conditions on the day itself (we don't trust forecasts) so before you pack up the kids call and listen to the outgoing message at 416 392 0913 or speak with staff.”

FRIDAY NIGHT SUPPER resumes Friday May 16 (weather permitting), by the oven

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, Amy Withers, Anna Bekerman, Anna Galati and Yo Utano. Supper is served from 6 to 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


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 SOCCER and CRICKET times Recreation staff are programming 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.”

Community BALL-HOCKEY times Recreation staff have programmed community games on Monday, Thursday and Saturdays so far. Recreation staff Ginger Dean will also be setting up summer ball hockey tournaments for neighbourhood youth. 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.


Want to try your green thumb?

Drop-in gardening hours for May are set for 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. Also, Forestry planted over thirty new trees the year before last, and then added two “little forests” next to Dufferin Street. If it’s another dry summer, the trees will need watering – volunteer help is very welcome.

Spring garden highlights

The park’s three cherry trees and the serviceberry bush next to the oven all bloomed early this year, when April turned so warm. Two of the cherry trees are Bing cherries (the other is a sour cherry). One of the Bing cherry trees is much older but didn’t produce many cherries until the second tree was planted three years ago. This year we have high hopes – if there are lots of cherries, there will be cherry pie, cherry cobbler, and cherry crumble at Friday Night Supper -- unless the birds and the kids get into the big tree first.

Tulips and daffodils donated by park friends Pat MacKay and Leslie Coates bloomed in five park gardens this April and May. The Japanese ornamental cherry tree planted beside the cob courtyard (two years ago) in memory of Emma Frankford, by her family, burst into blossom before any other tree this year. Students from the St.Mary’s Catholic High School environment club came to the park on April 27 to start work on their own vegetable garden in the children’s garden section near the bake ovens. They intend to plant lettuce and peas to harvest for a school meal in June, and then to plant root vegetables, for harvesting when school returns in September. The students have a particular interest in composting, and will be bringing some of the food scraps from cafeteria meals to enrich the park compost.


For the summer, there are two 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 go through 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.


Saturday May 3, 10 a.m. to 3 pm: KENT SENIOR PUBLIC SCHOOL Centennial Celebration 1908 - 2008 This good old neighbourhood school (at Dufferin and Bloor) will have a “memorabilia room” with old pictures and other objects. There are many alumni coming from the graduation year 1933 (!) to the present. It’s a good chance to find out a bit more about the history of the neighbourhood, even if you didn’t go to Kent as a student. And if you did go: your old friends might be there. For more information:

Saturday May 3 and Sunday May 4, ST. ANNE’S CHURCH (270 Gladstone just north of Dundas) May 3, 9.30am – 3.30pm. Symposium: Sacred Space -- Art and Architecture inspired by faith. This free symposium explores the personalities, the artists, and the theology which came together 100 years ago to create St.Anne’s Church. More information at .

May 4: St. Anne’s Church organ recital at 2 pm. A special recital by organists past and present will display St.Anne’s newly enhanced Casavant Organ. Selected works played by Peter Orme, Nina Wu-Cotton, Clement Carlisle.

Thursday May 8, 9pm: Sixth Annual Small World Music South Asian Music Series, LULA LOUNGE (Dundas west of Dufferin) From park friend (and wonderful musician) Ravi Naimpally, about his group “Tasa”: Tasa will be playing new repertoire from their upcoming CD. We will be joined by ace pianist Adrean Farrugia on keys. We are happy to be sharing the night with a new and exciting Indo-jazz group called Monsoon. They play original tunes fusing elements of music from India with modern jazz. $15 advance $20 door.”


This year’s Jane Jacobs prize went to Nick Saul, the director of The Stop Community Food Centre at Davenport and Symington. Nick is often in the park playground with his family. The inspiring work he and his staff have done in converting a food bank into a community gathering place and social action centre is known to many park users.

Mayor David Miller was at the ceremony and took the occasion to talk about the importance of turning away from a municipal culture of saying “no you can’t” to finding out how to open the way to saying “yes.” He hit the nail on the head, and hopefully this maxim will sift down to the day-to-day operations of the city’s Parks management.

A radical restructuring over the past few years, meant to make parks work better, is still in a transition phase of saying NO a great deal of the time. Almost every activity mentioned in this newsletter goes against some sort of Parks management rule. The negative note injected into Park operations takes a toll on everyone who works to make Dufferin Park a lively, welcoming, easy place to enjoy. What to do?

The best course of action may be to keep doing good things in the park even if they meet with official disapproval. Campfires, the farmers’ market, community building projects, tree watering, gardens, community drop-in sports, soccer kids’ car-washes – and many more activities – have all run into trouble with Parks-management. And yet all these activities are still here. And perhaps Mayor Miller’s theme at his Jane Jacobs Day speech, of “saying yes” is a sign that change can still come.

Saying “yes” is worth working for, and we’re in it for the long haul. Mayor Miller, we’re willing to work on that goal with you – it’s the only way.


Police recently informed a group of black youth who were drinking beer in the park that they would be arrested for trespass if they were ever seen at the park again. Here’s a question for the community. Should such youth be permanently excluded?

For years, some of the youth who come to the basketball court have been drinking beer at the side, or under the overhand at the side of the field house Some of them are messy and loud. Sometimes they play uncensored music on their radios. Park recreation staff tell the youth to put their beer away (it’s legal in Europe but not in Canada). The staff move the trash cans closer to the picnic tables and turn off the electrical outlets in the hydro posts so the radios have to run on (weak) batteries. They remind the youth about their language and their loudness. Park friends and staff have gone to court to follow up some of the troublemakers, and let them see that their actions are known.

At the same time, both recreation staff and park friends have been pleased to see that quite a few of these youth mellow over time, as they get jobs and families and become more mature. Some have disappeared into long-time jail but most have not. Even those who have done jail time have sometimes returned after release, older and wiser. A few have cautioned the younger guys as they arrive and the cycle starts over.

Working with youth (or any other park users) who make noise and litter and drink beer openly (and worry other park users) is an ongoing task for recreation staff, a push-and-pull not likely to end soon.

At the same time, the staff are mindful of the city’s policy against discrimination on the basis of race. For some years, the frequent police questioning and seeking of identification from youth who are black or coloured, sometimes just sitting at a picnic table without either noise or alcohol, was a concern for both park friends and park staff. Meetings with police management may have made this a bit less common. However there seems to be gulf between police and park-user perception that continues to be worrisome. Recently an officer said at a public meeting that police prefer to use bicycles at Dufferin Grove rather than driving through the park, because if the youth can see a cruiser coming, they drop their drugs and guns and can’t be charged. Other officers have said that Dufferin Grove is so dangerous that people are afraid to take their children there. This is not generally the perception of park users (Dufferin Grove is very lively with kids and families). It’s also not the perception of youth, who say they come to this park because it’s safe and they can just relax (and drink beer, and off we go again…..)

Police assertions caused park friends to go through police occurrence reports obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. These reports appear to bear out park users’ perceptions of Dufferin Grove as a generally peaceful place. The great majority of the reports were apparently random stops for “loitering” or drinking beer (see the park web site for more details). So here’s the question: do people in this neighbourhood want to clean their park by banning such people? A question that needs public discussion.


The farmers are moving outside the rink house as spring proceeds, and soon the market will be back down the hill as well – and the crowding will be gone for another year.

The park bakers are continuing to experiment with new breads. Anna Bekerman says the new breads include a cornmeal sourdough, a dark rye with cocao from market vendor Chocosol, potato-thyme sourdough, and a rich raisin loaf with milk, as well as all the usual breads. New summer staff are learning how to bake, so expect additions.


Newsletter prepared by: Jutta Mason

Illustrations: Jane LowBeer

Published by: CELOS

Web site: Henrik Bechmann, Aseel Al Najim, Michael Monastyrskyj

Park phone: 416 392-0913

Park web site:


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