For the basics, see
- Website & Privacy Policies
- How To Get Involved
- The Role of the Park

Search options:

up to a month to index new postings
web search

Search Newsletter:
local & up to date but simpler
See Search Page

Department Site Map

October 2009

Dufferin Grove Park Newsletter


Volume 10, Nr.8, October 2009

New accessible swing at Christie Pits

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


October 5 to 23: Community workshops for the annual Night of Dread parade

On October 5, there is a planning meeting for the Night of Dread, at 7.30 in the Dufferin Grove rink house, everyone welcome. Then there is mask-making and prop-making from October 6 to the 10, again from October 13 to October 23 (except for Monday October 19). The rink house will be a hive of activity between noon and 8 pm every day. If you ever wanted to learn how to do papier mache, how to design and make costumes, how to put together a parade, you’re welcome to come and be a part of this. 416 316-4461

Sunday October 18 Second Annual Grove Community School corn roast and music jam, 12 to 5 pm, by the playground.

Last October the Grove Community School had a corn roast and music jam to introduce the school idea to the neighbourhood. In March they got their approval from the school board, and last month the school opened, for Kindergarten through Grade Three. So this year it’s a celebration of the opening, with corn, some musicians, and crafts for kids. Everyone welcome.

Saturday October 24, the Tenth Annual Night of Dread 4pm to 9pm

From director David Anderson: “Night of Dread is Clay & Paper Theatre's invitation to the community to parade our private and collective fears through the darkened streets of Toronto. The hour-long procession returns to Dufferin Grove Park for an evening of ceremonial festivities that compel us to call on, mock and banish the fears that unite and divide us in these times. Night of Dread is an unforgettable evening of pageantry, music and masquerade incorporating towering puppets, stilt dancers, fire-spinners and fearful masks in a daring exploration of dread.

This community celebration incorporates international folk and theatrical traditions, drawing inspiration from festivals of death and remembrance around the world. Come dance in the streets with our city's finest musicians, puppeteers, dancers and stilt walkers; together we'll laugh at our fears, waltz with death, eat the bread of the dead, and remember those who have gone from our midst.

Clay & Paper has many costumes and puppets available for the public to wear in the parade; come early to the Dufferin Clubhouse to avoid disappointment!”

  • 4 PM: Parade begins assembling at Dufferin Grove Park
  • 6 PM: Parade departs
  • Dress Code: Black & White

Pay-What-You-Can: suggested donation to support the parade $10
More information: (416) 316-4461


Fall is a time when people’s thoughts turn to campfires, smoke curling upwards, the good smell of something tasty cooking over a fire, the beautiful colours of the leaves – and so on. This means that Dufferin Grove Park’s program staff get a lot of requests for campfire permits.

The campfires at Dufferin Grove Park are a bit different than the regular city campfires, which are arranged with the central Permit Office. Centrally booked permits cost $53 and they are located in the more woodsy, natural areas of the largest city parks – in the ravines, beside the rivers, and on Toronto Island. The campfires at Dufferin Grove, in contrast, are a special program in a densely settled neighbourhood. They were started partly to add a lively activity to the park at night and thereby increase the “eyes on the park.” The park becomes friendlier and safer for people passing through after dark. The other reason for the campfire program is that campfires can be a wonderful way for neighbours to gather.

There have been a great many campfires in the fifteen years since the program was established. The sight of people gathered at the fire circle has cheered many park users. But lately the requests for campfires have felt a little overwhelming at times. The program staff have been taking pains to make it clear that the campfires involve a trade: if you have a fire, you and your campfire friends become volunteers for the park. Having a campfire is not like “booking a campsite” or “reserving a table at a restaurant,“ as one very disappointed park user recently said in frustration. She had expected a space reliably reserved for her own party, but instead she found that the site was being used as a sacred fire circle during the pow wow, and that the “firekeepers” would not be finished until half an hour into her picnic. The park program staff are now trying to emphasize more clearly: campfires mean joining the life of the park, not reserving a spot that will be punctually ready for your own group. If the pow wow runs half an hour later than expected, that’s part of the way parks are. They are public, not private, full of the surprise of the unexpected.

At the same time, one kind of surprise is unwelcome at the campfires: any kind of percussion. Campfires are not drumming circles, out of respect for the park neighbours who live so near. For drumming, it’s best to reserve a regular City campfire area, where your group can drum together beside a river or in a woodsy ravine.

At Dufferin Grove, park campfire volunteers must keep an eye out for trouble. They might welcome a stranger into the circle. They can explain to curious park users about how the park runs and how campfires are set up. Sometimes they share their extra food – especially with nosy children who come by from the playground. In return, campfire volunteers get the use of pots and pot stands and marshmallow sticks, shovels and buckets for water, stir spoons and oven mitts and kindling. Most of them willingly contribute $10 for the upkeep of these supplies. There’s no campfire fee beyond that.

To volunteer for one of those kinds of campfires: call 416 392-0913, or (even better) e-mail

PLAYGROUND UPDATE: the wheelchair-accessible swing

Back in July, park friend Max Wallace wrote to City Councillor Adam Giambrone, offering to donate funds to buy an accessible swing (about $800) for the playground. Some playground users had asked for such a swing in 2008, and even made a map showing where there was space to put it. At that time, Park supervisor Peter Leiss said that the swing could be added when the capital project to replace the playground was underway.

But given the uncertainty about that project (many park users prefer to add to the current wooden playground, rather than replacing it with a metal-and-plastic structure), Max made his offer. He wanted to get the swing installed so kids could use it now. Councillor Giambrone assistant Chris Gallop asked the capital projects section to see how it could be done. In mid-September there was progress – the space suggested was deemed adequate (it’s an empty spot left after a slide was removed and not replaced, about seven years ago). Forestry still had to sign off that there would be no serious damage to nearby tree roots when the swing frame was installed.

But when the park supervisor returned from his post-strike holidays, he said that not only would the actual swing have to be donated, but the City couldn’t pay for the swing frame and installation either. That upped the funds needed to around $3000. Negotiations continue – since the City recently installed another accessible swing at Christie Pits with no outside donation, and at Oriole Park in Forest Hill, the City plans to match a private donation of $1 million with city funds of $1.5 million for an entirely accessible playground. If these and other expenditures leave the City with no funds to make the Dufferin Grove accessible swing happen, more fundraising will be needed.

Meantime, we are looking for a mystery man named Pedro Paolo, who pulled out a $100 bill a few weeks ago and gave it to the food cart staff, as his contribution to the swing. Mr.Paolo, there must have been a mistake in copying down your phone number – we want to give you a charitable receipt and we can’t reach you! Please call the park staff at 416 392-0913 or e-mail


City Councillor Adam Giambrone says he wants to do a park walkabout sometime in October, to consider ten park improvements that might be put on the longer-term capital-projects wish list. That could mean paving the remaining dirt paths, putting in a stairway at the hill near the market, installing the bio-toilet at long last, making a better drain at the sandpit, laying flagstones at the bake-oven eating area, or any number of other suggestions.

Now that Mayor David Miller has announced he won’t be running again, there is a lot of bustle at City Hall, and it may be a while before a date is set for this park walkabout. Watch the newsletter, website, and park bulletin boards for an update.


At the end of September, CELOS (The CEnte for LOcal research into public Space) received its charitable registration number from Canada Revenue. Because this little research centre is unusual, the process took well over a year and had substantial help from a lawyer, Ted Hyland, who does this kind of work. He also helped CELOS clarify its mandate:

  1. To conduct both practical and theoretical research on issues concerning parks and public commons.
  2. To build a library of resource materials for, researchers, governments, and particularly members of the public who are interested in structuring parks/ public commons so that they contribute to the enjoyment of their communities.
  3. ''To provide a forum at Dufferin Grove Park and elsewhere where people can come together to discuss issues relating to parks and public commons.

The website is already pretty crammed. To have a look, go to ''


The Ontario Trillium Foundation recently awarded a $24,000 grant to CELOS (the CEntre for LOcal research into public Space) to research the laws, regulations, policies and guidelines that help or hinder community initiatives in parks and public spaces. Belinda Cole is the main legal researcher. Henrik Bechmann, the longtime webmaster of, is working on a database application, to give easy access to people or groups who want to understand the regulations, policies and guidelines that scare people away from trying things or enjoying our parks to the fullest. This research involves talking to lots of interesting people and community groups. To find out more or to contribute your experience, go to

BAKE-OVEN SHOW-AND-TELL NIGHT, October 14, 5.30 to 7.30.

Several groups from other parts of the city (Thorncliffe Park, Little Norway Park, CAMH, Lawrence Heights) have visited Dufferin Grove to find out more about how the baking and fire-cooking is done. To follow up, there will be a baking day with special guest Anna Bekerman, long-time Dufferin Grove staff who now divides her time between New York and Toronto. On Wednesday October 14, show-and-tell baking will happen in the bigger bake-oven and over a campfire (with a dutch oven). As well, park program staff will help the visitors build a temporary bake-oven with bricks, foil, and angle-iron. That takes less than an hour. Anyone from the neighbourhood interested in joining this session is very welcome. More information:


Four years ago, the temperature on October 1 was 30 degrees. On the same day this year we narrowly missed having frost. October is an up-and-down month, and the darkness comes early, so in other years, Friday Night Suppers ended then. But not this year.

This year the cooks are having so much fun, they’ll try to continue the suppers a little longer. This will be entirely weather-dependent. If there’s no rain and the temperature is mild, the suppers will be on. With luck, that might happen twice in October. On those evenings, the candle jars will be on the picnic tables and the little white lights will be strung in the trees, and the rink lights will be on for the kids to play their games on the rink surface. The meals will use up some of the fall harvest bounty from the farmers’ market, and the last of the park garden vegetables.

On October Fridays, to make sure that supper is on, call the park at 416 392-0913 to hear the updated message, or go to The Friday Night Supper status will be posted prominently on the home page. As always, the menu will be on the menu page by early afternoon. The supper menu page is quite an archive by now, have a look!


It’s from Canadian Living Magazine's "Best Oatmeal Cookie Mix" Many park users ask for this recipe, so here it is again. Donna Bartolini, who used to work for the magazine, brought the recipe to the park, 13 years ago. It's enough for four batches of oatmeal cookies.

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
4 cups firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt

Mix these things and store in an air-tight container for up to two months. To make one batch of cookies, take:

½ cup softened butter
3 ¼ cups cookie mix
1 beaten egg

4 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon real vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips

In a large bowl, beat butter into cookie mix until blended. Stir in water, egg, and vanilla. Form dough into balls and squash onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes or until golden. Makes about two dozen large cookies.


Background: is a website about all the city’s compressor-cooled outdoor rinks (49 of them – Toronto has more than any other city in the world). The website is not run by the City but by CELOS. It has “rink diaries” covering the whole rink season, with lots of stories, and pictures of the many outdoor rinks all over the city. And then there are the posted accounts of the various ice-maintenance intrigues, the ice-and-sunshine cliffhangers, the short-lived triumphs, the one-step-forward-two-steps-back tempo of negotiations (if any) with rink management, the unexpected plot twists.

Here’s one such plot twist. For about ten years, some rink friends have been trying to persuade the City’s outdoor rink management to open the rinks earlier, during the weak-sun days of mid-November, and close them when the sun gets high and strong at the end of February. This would be a shift in the season to correspond with the angle of the sun – basically a return to the rink season that used to be the norm.

This idea couldn’t find any friends at City Hall. Then about a year ago, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong got interested in it, and began trying to gain support for a citywide rink season shift from his councillor colleagues. No luck last year, so he tried again last December, asking for a staff report on how much it would cost to open fourteen rinks on November 21 this coming November (2009).

The staff report was very unfavourable to the idea. And a deputation at the Community Development and Recreation Committee, arguing in favour of the earlier opening, got nowhere. The earlier-opening hope seemed dead until at least November 2010.

Then one evening at the end of February, Jutta Mason got an e-mail from Councillor Minnan-Wong. City Council was meeting very late that night (until 2 a.m.!), to discuss the City budget, and the councillor wrote that he had managed to get the earlier-opening date back onto the agenda. Not only that, but the tired councillors who were still in attendance voted 17 yes to 15 no! (Councillor Adam Giambrone says he was one of the “yes” votes.) So the earlier-opening resolution was snuck in again and passed.

That means that this coming November, fourteen rinks will open on November 21. Eight of those rinks were not scheduled to open until December 5, so that’s a pretty good improvement.

The Dufferin Rink staff are happy. For years they’ve been having to explain to disappointed kids, pounding on the rink house door in November, that the rinks are still closed. November is when all the kids get excited about skating – now they can do it.

The other neighbourhood rinks opening on November 21 are Rennie, Sir Adam Beck, and Sunnydale in the west; Kew and Regent Park South in the centre, and Broadlands, Glen Long, Irving Chapley and Ledbury in the north.

The civic-square rinks opening on November 21 are City Hall, West Mall (in Etobicoke), Mel Lastman Square (in North York), and Albert Campbell Rink (in Scarborough). For more information:, or call the City’s new information line at 311.


Park users will have noticed a tent near the playground, and two other homeless people sleeping on benches. The park program staff have been working with the Parks Ambassador Program and Streets to Homes to set up cold-weather housing for these folks. Dufferin Grove Park has often had temporary park users staying overnight, sometimes for weeks, rarely longer. Some of their stories are posted on on “about us.” The stories are as varied as the people, and many of these temporary residents contributed their special gifts to the park in one way or another.


From market manager Anne Freeman: “Nobody is ready to say goodbye to the summer that hardly got started, but we can't stop the clock. Due to the shortening days, this will be our last market on the summer path. Next week, you'll find the full market set up on the rinkpad on the east side of the building. It's fun "up top" too, and we love those rink lights when sunset comes. We'll be there until mid-November. Please spread the word among your friends who may not read the news. Sadly, we also ask you to warn them to carefully guard their wallets and purses, as the pickpocket has not been caught yet. The police urge anyone who thinks they've had money stolen to report it.”

The pickpocket Anne is referring to is possibly a young woman, who unzips purses and opens wallets to remove the contents, as well as outright taking the wallets. The market is such a friendly place that it’s hard to remember to guard your belongings – any park in a city of two and a half million is going to have some thieves, even at farmers’ markets.

Every Wednesday Anne puts out a weekly market newsletter, which is linked on farmers’ market page. If you want to get it by e-mail, go to the link on the market page. Here’s a sample item from the September 30 market news, from pie baker Jacinthe Koddo: "With Thanksgiving coming up, pies are available for pre-order from "Artisan Pies and Preserves", made with organic produce sourced from Eastcliff Farms and others in Grey County, Ontario. Stop by this Thursday to place your order for pick-up October 8th. There are four delectable choices: Pear-Cranberry, Apple, Pumpkin, and Pecan. They're all made with buttery pastry crusts that are melt-in-your-mouth good. You're sure to be the best dinner guest ever when you arrive with one of these! An individual pie of your choice is $20. Can't decide on just one? Get two for $38."


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:


September newsletter sponsors: Scooter Girl Toys, Edward Cayley.

hosted by | powered by pmwiki-2.2.83. Content last modified on April 12, 2014, at 08:58 PM EST