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News 2005
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posted December 22, 2005


It goes to:

  • The printing of this newsletter
  • The new cupboards and counters in the zamboni café (built by park friend Silvie Varone, who usually builds stage sets for theatre. Silvie and her partner Simon also built the barn-board sink cupboards at Georgie Donais' community-built cob courtyard by the playground).
  • Extra supplies for the park and the rink
  • Additional park staff hours, to make fires and celebrations, paint signs, plant trees, cook park suppers
  • Replacing broken things - e.g. the freezer and the bread dough mixer
  • Pay for extra food, when kids do rink chores to earn food at the snack bar
  • Give honorariums to volunteers who do more than they should

posted November 21, 2005

Free Permits to Cook at the Cob Fireplace

The fireplace in the cob courtyard near the playground is ready for use. It has a metal arm called a "crane" inside at the top, which has holes for hanging cooking pots (with s-hooks). It can swing around so the pots can hang wherever the cooks want -- over the hottest part of the fire, or off to the side where it's cooler.

Last spring, Bridget Wranich, who is in charge of the historical kitchen at Fort York, lent us a book about "cranes" and other Victorian kitchen implements. In the middle of November, Jutta stopped off to return the book. Bridget wasn't there, but a volunteer cook named John Hammond was.

Mr.Hammond is very knowledgable about pioneer cooking. He had just cooked a pork roast over the fire by suspending it from a nail with a string which he twisted around every 15 minutes and then let it gradually unwind itself (thereby turning the meat in front of the fire). He showed Jutta how he had caught the drippings in a little bowl set on the hearth underneath the roast, and used the drippings to baste the roast over and over. The roast was stuffed with herbs from the Fort York gardens. Jutta thought it was the most delicious thing she'd ever tasted.

Some of the park cooks want to try this, and anyone else who wants to get a (free) permit to make a fire in the cob fireplace can try it too. Open fireplaces are a wonderful place to cook, and winter is the time to begin. For more information about using the cob fireplace, and borrowing the park's s-hooks, dutch oven, trivets, and cast-iron frying pans, call the park at 416 392-0913 and ask for Mayssan. She'll connect you with the park cooks. Or you can e-mail her at

posted December 22, 2005


Friday Night Suppers have resumed (6 to 7.30 p.m. on Fridays at the rink house, $6 for the main plate, no reservations necessary, $1 less if you bring your own dishes). Also, seven days a week, the "Zamboni Café" snack bar will be serving substantial winter soups, sandwiches with park oven bread, organic hot dogs, mini-pizzas, and various sweets including park cookies. On weekends there may be more.

The price list at the Zamboni café reflects how much money we need to pay for the materials that went into the food, plus a bit extra for other park uses. But if your grocery money is tight, but you and your kids are hungry after skating, even the cheap snack bar food prices may add up too fast.

If you're hungry, but you can't pay as much for the snack bar food, pay less. Park staff also like to do trades - if you can do something for the park (help shovel after a snowstorm, wash dishes, sort tools in the tool cupboard, break up wooden skids for the bread ovens) the park staff will tell you your money won't work at the snack bar, and you have to eat for free. That goes for kids too.

On the other hand, if you find the food very cheap and good and think it should cost more, pay more. Every penny goes to the park.

posted December 12, 2005

Cookie baking at the Daughter of Dufferin Bake Oven, Saturday December 17 afternoon

Please come and have cookies and tea in our snowy garden. We're going to fire up the oven at 900 Queen West (daughter of Dufferin Grove -- see map) next Saturday the 17th in the afternoon,to make cookies.

The kettle will be on to make tea and maybe hot cider. I'm going to make shortbread and Susan says she's going to make gingerbread. If you're brave you can bring your own cookie dough and experiment. We do have cookie cutters!


City Rinks Opening Later This Year

posted November 25, 2005

This year rink users thought the rink would open on the 25th, hence the date of the first Friday Night supper. But sadly, city rinks are opening later this year. The suppers will go ahead anyway, in honour of the joys of skating and winter. Long-time park baker and cook Dan Malloy will be cooking for the last time before he leaves the park to pursue his many other interests. Mary Sylwester is back from Victoria to cook the vegan dishes, and Lea Ambros is back from Prague and Berlin, so her Amaretto apple strudel will be on the menu -- the cooks haven't decided the rest yet.

There will be a feature-length documentary by David Batistella at 7 p.m. in the zamboni garage. It's called Shinny. Watching a gripping film about shinny is the next best thing to playing it.

"Better-late-than-never" St.Valentine's Supper: Friday Feb 25 from 6 to 7.30, 2005

posted February 24, 2005

Friday Night "better-late-than-never St.Valentine's Supper": from 6 to 7.30. Park friends Anne Ruetz and John Dent thought it would be very nice to have a "we love the park" community supper on Valentine's Day -- but that was the day the rink had to close because of heavy rains. So Ann and John postponed it to this week. From their e-mail:

"Please join us and other rink friends for a better-late-than-never-Valentine's Friday Night Supper at the park this Friday (Feb.25) from 6 to 8 instead. The park staff are very eager to cook the main meal, so the potluck part is just: bring a dessert of some kind. The main courses will be priced in the usual way.The long tables will be set up and we'll have the two park videos both ready to play in the video room (a.k.a. zamboni garage). That's the Big Backyard video (the Dufferin Grove Park playground scene in 1995) and the zamboni video."

And Georgie Donais will set up a corner table display showing how the playground's new wall/bench/kitchen-sinks area will be built, as a cob/ straw bale structure. Georgie sees this as a group building project, for late spring, that will even involve the kids, in making the clay-and-straw walls. A very fine gift to the park!

posted March 3, 2005

Three Special Friday Night Suppers in March, 2005

Regular prices and format. No reservations necessary.
Friday March 4: A special Artists'-bake-oven/Gene Threndyle Friday Night Supper
Gene Threndyle

Friday March 4, 6 to 8.30 p.m.: a special artists'-bake-oven Friday Night Supper, with all funds going to the new bake oven at the Artscape artists' co-op at Queen and Crawford. This supper is in honour of Gene Threndyle, who will build the Artscape oven, and who is also one of our park's best friends. Almost every native species garden in our park had Gene's help to get started and keep growing. Gene made the fountain/wetland in the old Garrison Creek river bed beside Dufferin Street. He's a visual artist whose medium is nature: plants and rocks and water. The park cooks are glad to get the chance to cook a fine meal that will honour Gene and also help buy the materials for yet another communal bake oven. The regular prices and format of Friday Night Supper apply (no reservations necessary).

Friday March 11: A special Playground/Cob Structure Friday Night Supper

Friday March 11, 6 to 8p.m.: a special playground Friday Night Supper with all funds going to buy materials for the traditional cob/straw bale structure that Georgie Donais wants to build (communally) at the playground this spring and summer. Georgie will bring a DVD to show the fun that people had building such a structure together in Madison Wisconsin. This supper will also be a chance for people with kids to find out more about the city's playground problems, and to get a list of playground friends started. (No speeches, just good bulletin boards.)The <strong>regular prices and format</strong> of Friday Night Supper apply, and no reservations are necessary.

Friday March 18: A special Gardening Friday Night Supper

Friday March 18, 6 to 8 p.m.: a special gardening Friday Night Supper with all funds going to buy seeds and plants and garden tools for the park gardens. This supper is in honour of our gardeners - Caitlin Shea, Reema Tarzi, Gene Threndyle, Annick Mitchell and Jake Mitchell, Klaudia Meier, Jeremy and Catherine. (And Arie Kamp if we can find him - he has no phone.) It's also in memory of Ben Figuereido, whose leap off his balcony in December leaves us with only his beautiful grape vines on the chain link fence beside the little oven, to remember him by.

There will be garden films: Isaac Meyer is lending the park his 16mm film projector so we can run the garden films we inherited when the Public Library closed down its film department. A 20-minute NFB film of a backyard garden in Halifax is a particular gem. The films will run continuously in the zamboni-garage "movie theatre." The regular prices and format of Friday Night Supper apply, and no reservations are necessary.

posted March 10, 2005

Gene Threndyle sends his thanks

Oven site -- temporary oven just visible at the left.

A great big thank you to everyone who came and had supper and especially everyone at the park who helped with and made the supper. The profits from that which go to the building of our future bake oven here at 900 Queen Street West totalled $430. Our goal of $1500 which Artscape has said they will match has now quite nicely been reached and I am hoping that we will begin construction in April.

This year our live/work artists' studio building celebrates it's 10 anniversary. Many of the tenants have been here that long and longer than any of the employees of Artscape. They have contributed enorously to the garden at Queen and Crawford. Our garden is partly public and has hosted some damn good community parties. These are only going to get better and having a bake oven will make that a certaintity.

Again, on behalf of the tenants' association of 900 Queen Street West thank-you very much.

Gene Threndyle

posted March 18, 2005

A Note from Caitlin Shea About the Friday Night Supper, March 18, 2005

Hello to everyone on this beautiful day!

It's the last Friday Night Supper of the season! Tonight Friday March 18th from 6 until 8 in the rinkhouse.

There are rumours of cassoulet and gnocchi!

Despite the smell of spring in the air there's still plenty of snow and ice on the ground and yet gardeners everywhere are starting to dream of and plan for the upcoming season. Last weekend the dedicated Dufferin Grove Gardening Party seeded their tomatoes and hot peppers. The week before they made an intrepid trek to the hardware store to invest in a new sprinkler and a plastic covered shelving unit to house the dreamed of seedlings. This week thanks to the park staff the Gardener Party is getting a fundraising night of their very own! (The food grown goes primarily to Friday Night Supper dishes, Pizza Day toppings and Food Cart offerings.) We'll be showing some good old 16mm films on the Wonderful Potato and the Urban Garden. Hope to see you there!

Caitlin Shea

posted April 12, 2005


EIGHTH ANNUAL MATZO MAKING, SUNDAY APRIL 17: at the park oven. Run by Annie Hurwitz and Ron Paley as always (with park staff support), beginning at one p.m. and ending at 4p.m.. The big oven will be kosher and all the materials and tools for making kosher Passover matzo will be available. This has become a wonderful get-together for families to make unleavened bread and exchange lore about the Passover traditions. (Riddle: how many minutes can elapse between the rolling of the dough and the baking, until the matzo is no longer considered unleavened? Ask Ron.) For more information about April 17, e-mail Annie at

Regular Friday Night Suppers are over until Spring 2005

posted January 31, 2005

Friday night supper

This past year, the Friday Night Suppers at the park grew bigger than the cooks and the park friends had expected when they started the suppers the year before last. The cooking was often fun but sometimes it seemed that new people thought the suppers were more like a conveniently-cheap kid-friendly restaurant than a chance to meet their neighbours. The rink house presented particular problems. We tried to make some changes - replace chairs with benches, put the tables into long rows - to encourage people to squash closer together and talk to strangers. It worked at first but not for long. People soon resumed "saving" big parts of the tables for only their friends, and if strangers sat next to them, there was often no effort to include them in the talk. The good will that's needed for a rink supper to be fun was in short supply with some groups, replaced by complaints about the service (?!) and the crowding. But the supper was never intended to be a service. In addition, people who just came to skate and play hockey were squeezed out into the cold to change, not only during the supper but also after (people lingered longer and longer at their tables, unaware of the skaters). Between the farmers' market and the supper with kids playing indoor tag and toys to trip over, the skaters began to wonder out loud if they were going to be displaced completely.

So the cooks and some of the park friends concluded that they'd better call a halt to the community suppers for now, and rethink the idea. That doesn't mean the end of the wonderful food (the cooks love to cook), but the long tables won't be set up and the rink house will be focused mainly on people who come to skate. When the skaters get hungry, they can just sit at one of the little tables, or balance the plate on their lap by the side of the rink or around the campfire. That works out fine too.

posted August 12, 2005 from the August Newsletter


In the third week of July we got an alarming message from '''Public Health''': “The rolling of dough and adding of toppings should all be done inside, near the kitchen. The uncooked pizza then should be taken out to the oven only, and then returned inside the building before being cut. Please ensure that all staff are adhering to this procedure.”

We sent back a message: “People ONLY make their own pizzas. No one touches someone else's pizza. Therefore this is the same as people making their own picnic food, and nothing is transmitted except people's own germs to themselves.

"It's true that park staff prepare the dough and have cheese and tomato sauce on hand. The dough is prepared in a professional mixer in our inspected kitchen and used within a few minutes of being brought outside (it is kept covered during those few minutes). The  commercially pre-grated cheese is taken straight from the fridge into a cooler, then put out in small amounts (bowl and spoon) that is used within (maximum) five minutes of being set out. The commercially made sauce is taken from a refrigerated container into a cooler and then set out in the same way, with the same time lines. Other ingredients are either brought by the picnickers themselves or picked fresh out of the park gardens (e.g. basil).

“The pizzas go from the wooden peel into the oven where they are baked until done, at a temperature of around 700 degrees (or more).”

We said that we feel that pizza days are safe. Lo and behold, '''Ben Heywood''', the local public health inspector, came and checked us out and said he agreed with us, and we could keep on making pizza outside as before. A small triumph for common sense!

posted September 6, 2005, from the September Newsletter

Friday September 16, Friday Night Supper/ Cob courtyard party, 6 p.m

For one time only on Sept.16, Friday Night Supper will be beside the playground, with pots bubbling in the new cob fireplace. Afterwards, there will be music and dancing in honour of the finished cob courtyard. The whole structure will be lit with candles and torches. The park cooks will make a lot of extra food, so no reservations are necessary. Read more >>

posted Sepetember 6, 2005, from the September Newsletter

Dufferin Grove Park Friday Night Supper in honour of MacGregor Park Friends, Friday September 23, 6 p.m.
By the bake ovens at Dufferin Grove Park

This Sept.23 Friday Night Supper is in honour of our new park friends at MacGregor Park (Lansdowne and College just north of '''West Toronto Secondary School see map). Artist Kristen Fahrig has received an “artist-in-residence” grant from the Toronto Arts Council, to do projects at that park for a whole year. Friends of Dufferin Grove Park sponsored her application, as did Parks and Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro. MacGregor Park is the third park in this area that’s developing friends to help look after it. (Dovercourt Park is also very lively now, with the five-year involvement of Andrea Dawber''' and many others in that neighborhood.)

MacGregor Park was one of the first “playground parks” in Toronto, established in the 1920’s for the children of the workers in the industries that sprang up along the railway tracks. Up until about ten years ago the park was very busy, but more recently it became a bit of an orphan. Park neighbour Anna Galati worked with Parks and Recreation staff to put better programs in for the summer, and the children started coming back. (and Anna helped us at our park for the last two weeks of August).

Kristen Fahrig will run a fall kids’ art club in MacGregor Park’s solid old field house, making big papier mache masks to prepare for an October festival there. The art club starts Saturday Sept.10, from 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, contact Anna Galati at 416 535-9032.

Friday night supper

Friday Night Suppers, 2005

posted September 29, 2005

Friday Night Suppers suspended until November 25 which will be the beginning of the skating season.

Friday Night Suppers

posted May 9, 2005

Friday Night Suppers begin again on June 10, and continue every Friday night all summer long and into September except if the weather is bad.

Every Friday from 6 to 7:30p.m., at the bake oven. No need to make a reservation: there's lots of food. A community dinner cooked in the park bake ovens with farmers' market produce. $6 for the main plate unless you bring your own dishes ($1 off). The main plate is always a choice of meat or (usually) vegan. There's always park bread, a salad, soup, and dessert (they cost extra but it's hard to spend much more than $10 per meal). If it's raining hard, no supper (call 416-392-0913 if you're not sure). If it's a cool night, there's a campfire to linger at with your friends.

Pizza in the Park

Bake your own kid size pizza in an outdoor bake oven for $2.00
(We provide the materials, and you can add your own)

posted Sepetember 7, 2005, from the September Newsletter

Pizza days in September 2005: Wednesdays 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

(not when it’s raining or really nasty out – call if doubtful – '''416 392-0913'''). For $2 a portion, you can buy a small lump of organic pizza dough, sauce, and cheese, and make your own pizza in the oven (staff help you bake it). You can pick toppings in the park gardens to put on as well, or bring extra toppings from home. It’s a very nice way to meet new neighbours or get together with friends. September usually is the last month for pizza days until spring.

If you want to include pizza at the oven in a birthday party, that’s possible on Sundays between 11.30 and 1 and from 3 to 4. You can book it with park staff Mayssan Shuja Uddin at '''416 392-0913'''. The staff cost is $36 extra on top of the pizza cost of $2 per pizza. If you have more than forty people, that will need an extra staff person for another $18. To find out more, click on bake ovens and food or call the park.

posted May 9, 2005, updated September 7, 2005


Sundays 1-3 PM


Wednesdays 12-2 PM



We provide enough dough, tomato sauce, and cheese for a kid's-sized pizza at a cost of $2.00. You're welcome to bring other toppings from home, and you can forage for herbs and cherry tomatoes from the community garden. We also sell juice boxes and chocolate chip cookies for 50 cents each, and organic, fairly traded coffee for $1.50 a cup. This is a very nice way to meet your neighbour...


From the park staff: The purpose of Dufferin Park's pizza days is to provide a place for kids and adults in the neighbourhood to meet each other, have a good time, and share a healthy and affordable lunch outside in the park.

Generally, we discourage groups of twelve or more from coming to the drop-in pizza day hours, both because it is difficult to plan for and accommodate such numbers of people, and because pizza days were never intended to be a party service.

The staff are willing to accommodate larger groups under certain circumstances, however. If you call a week or two ahead of time, (416.392.0913) we can usually set up early or stay late on a regular pizza day:

Sundays 11:30-1 PM or 3-4 PM



There are additional costs with such arrangements, due to the longer staff hours and so on. We charge an additional $36.00 for groups up to forty on top of the individual pizza costs. That means if you make 30 pizzas it will cost you $60 for materials, plus the $36 surcharge for a total of $96.

If the times listed above don't work for your group, we can sometimes make other arrangements, but of course, when staff are scheduled for a specific event (instead of just staying an extra hour or two) costs are higher than those listed above.

  1. Parks have no walls: You can't throw an exclusive, private party in the park, even if you have booked the oven for an extra hour. If some people see that the pizza oven is in use and want to join in the fun, we think you should include them. It's like making unexpected visitors feel welcome at your house. You can collect money from them for their pizza, since as the host of the party, you are ultimately responsible for the cost of the food. These add-ons don't come along very often, but if someone does want to try out pizza-making, please show them the hospitality of the park.
  2. Weather: Since everything happens outside, pizza days will be cancelled in the event of a downpour. This holds true for both the drop-in hours and private bookings. Call ahead if it looks like it might rain -- 416.392.0913.
  3. Costs: Pizza days are not a big cash cow for the park. We don't make a lot of money on good days, and often we are lucky if we break even, after the staff are paid and the supplies paid for. You can pay more if you feel like it -- all the money gets put back into making the park a good place.
  4. Timing: Because our ovens are used for many things (baking for the Thursday farmers' market, Friday Night Suppers, etc.) we may not be able to work around your schedule. For the same reasons, please do your best to keep your pizza-making within the times stated above. Chances are, you'll have a very good time.
Dan at the oven

photo by Wallie Seto


Food Cart

posted Sepetember 7, 2005, from the September Newsletter

The food cart in September

The park staff will try to keep the food cart going on good-weather weekends in September, even after the pool closes for the season.  The playground is still very busy in September, the sandpit is full of little engineers, and the park crew want to have a chance to try out the new sink arrangements and see if they can make the food cart even nicer.

posted May 9, 2005

Food Cart

Food cart - Daily for the Summer at the playground. This year we'll have more varied kinds of brunch/lunch foods, using ingredients from the farmers' market and the park gardens, cooked in the park ovens.

posted May 9, 2005

Saturday Morning Bread Sale, 10am

Saturday morning baking: from the park bakers: "the bread cart will be selling fresh park oven breads and breakfast pastries from 10 a.m. Saturdays, and will feature organic baguettes, brioche, and during June, strawberry-rhubarb-filled brioche buns."


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