From our newsletters (most recent first)...
posted April 14, 2005
FITNESS AND A CLEAN PARK:
Shanti Nahata sends an invitation to the neighbourhood, to join him in a new project that combines fitness and litter-picking at the park, once a week. He writes:
Why: To keep our park even cleaner then it is and have fun doing it.
When: Once a week, sometime between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm. We can decide on a day and a time that is the most convenient for everybody
Where are we meeting: 451 Gladstone - Next to St. Mary's School, across from the park
What will we be doing: We'll pick up our cleaning supplies (Garbage bags, gloves, small shovels etc..) at our meeting place. We'll concentrate each week on an area of the park that seems to be the most littered.
After the cleanup we'll go for a leisurely run. I can lead the first run and after that other people can lead and suggest different routes. After the run we will return to our original meeting place for water and juice. Phone 416-530-4620 or e-mail email@example.com if you want to get involved. Help your community and your body.
posted May 9, 2005
Community Soccer and Other Sports
The soccer field is mostly taken up by children's organized soccer, but from Saturday at two p.m. to Sunday at dark, it's available for community use (no fee) [see below]. You can book it with your friends as long as you're willing to let stragglers into the game (a bit like shinny hockey in the winter). There's also talk of ultimate frisbee, cricket, and even (over near the playground) thoughts of sand volleyball. If you want to get in on any of these games, call the park at 416 392-0913 and leave a message, or watch this website sports page.
Soccer permits at Dufferin Grove Park
posted May 9, 2005
After May 1, the Toronto Eagles children's soccer club has the soccer field permit Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings and Saturdays until 2. On Thursday evenings, the permit belongs to the "Portugal 2004" children's soccer club. This has been the case for 4-5 years.
From Saturday 2 p.m. until Sunday evening, the permits are there for community groups.
- Two-hour time slots
- Usually only half the field
- Include any neighborhood person who wants to play soccer but doesn't have a group
- Mixed-gender or all-male or all-female
- This is an experiment not carried out elsewhere in the city, i.e. free "community" permits that have some participant flexibility, a bit like shinny-hockey
- A post-season get-together in late fall to talk about whether this format works
Here is the park phone number: 416 392-0913. To get connected to an existing community soccer group, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred time and we'll try to match you up.
Other soccer possibilities that don't need a permit:
- any day before 6 p.m. in the summer (St.Mary's has the daytime booked during the school year),
- anytime in the Garrison Creek hollow over by Dufferin Street (a cop from Fourteen Division told us that that's where everyone used to play when he was a kid).
Children's Soccer Clubs
posted June 1, 2004
On week nights during soccer season, the field is permitted to the Toronto Eagles Soccer Club and to the Portugal 2004 Soccer Club.
Portugal 2004 Soccer Club
posted June 1, 2004
The Portugal 2004 soccer club can be reached at 416 537-2233.
"Portugal 2004" is so named because the Euro Cup tournament was in Portugal that year. Nataly Barros-Vilela, their co-ordinator, told us that their soccer club started very small in 2000 but now they have 10 house league teams and 5 competitive teams. Their players range in age from 4 to 16, and last year there were two girls' teams too. Last year, in the cold weather they played at the St.Raymond's School gym (on Barton just at the north of Christie Pits), and that's also where kids went to sign up. Last year for $90 kids also got shorts, a jersey, and socks. The coaches are all volunteers. Some are parents and some are older high school students who are putting in their mandatory 40 hours of community service, and learning how to referee or coach at the same time.
To get in touch with the Portugal 2004 soccer club, call 416 537-2233.
Toronto Eagles Soccer Club
posted June 1, 2004
The Toronto Eagles can be reached at 416 588-9355.
The Toronto Eagles are a huge club: they have 74 house league teams and 15 Rep/All-star teams. Co-ordinator Joe Silva told us that one of their Rep (competitive) teams is an adult women's team. He said that as of the last day of March last year they had almost 1000 kids registered for the Eagles. Most of the coaches are also volunteers (mainly parents). The clubhouse is at 779 Crawford Street (the old rink change house, the building right beside the rink just north of Alex Duff Pool).
To get in touch with the Toronto Eagles soccer club, e-mail them email@example.com.
And they have a web site, with game schedules and all their other news: www.torontoeagles.com.
Their phone number is 416 392-7145.
posted May 9, 2005
Follow-up rink meeting
Friday May 13: there will be a follow-up rink meeting, with three rink friends (Randy Heasman, Deirdre Norman, and Jutta Mason), the rink maintenance supervisor Brian Green, the rink technical services supervisor Dominic Fantauzzi, our webmaster Henrik Bechmann, and James Dann, the City manager in charge of the West Region of Parks and Recreation and most of the City rinks. The meeting is follow-up for a well-attended rink-friends meeting on April 12, which brought out many good ideas for making next year's rink season even better (and longer). What no one knew yet at that meeting is that some major rink repairs are scheduled for our rink compressor plant this year. In the budget it's called "Refrig/Floor/Mech/Fire Alarm System" and it may cost as much as $220,000. Even the city rink manager was unaware of this plan, but we're hoping that the technical services supervisor will be able to share what he knows about it. We'll post the results of this meeting [this page] on the park web site.
posted April 20, 2005
A Thank You Letter about Skating
From: Cathy Jackson/Marko Lavrisa
Sent: Sunday, March 06, 2005 8:52 PM
Subject: Thank you for helping us to learn to skate
I wanted to write everyone at the park to thank you in helping my son
to learn how to skate, the fun way!
For two years I have been taking my son, and daughter, to various
rinks to slowly teach them how to skate and have some outdoor fun. My
6 year old daughter caught on and enjoys leisurely skating around the
rink holding my hand. My son is a real hockey nut, but has never shown
an interest in skating, not even to play hockey. This did puzzle me,
as he really enjoys watching a game of shinny or house league games.
He is always interested in coming to the rink with us, but never too
aggressive about learning. I subscribe to the idea that everyone has
their own internal clock so when he is ready I was sure he will take
on the task of learning with great vigor (as he does with ball hockey,
Then one afternoon my wife took both kids to your rink, and it not
being crowded, and with some coaxing from another small girl, my son
picked up one of your hockey sticks and decided he was going to go out
and play hockey on the ice. Well it was a real breakthrough in his
learning process, he was so excited to be on the ice with a stick that
he whipped around the ice a few times before realizing what he had
just done! So for a few more weekends we come out to your rink to
'practice skating'. We would claim a small corner of the rink and
skate in circles, shoot a hollow plastic puck, and do some passing.
His learning progressed in leaps and bounds!
Then, oddly enough, one Sunday morning when we went out to 'practice
skating' we were about to take a hockey stick and go out on the ice,
when my son turns to me and says "that's okay dad, we don't need
hockey sticks any more, we can practice without the stick now, lets
just practices skating". Well that just blew me away. The only
conclusion I can come to was he needed that vision of skating on the
ice like a hockey player to get over the initial 'fear' hump when
learning. And as far as I am concerned it is all because you folks at
the rink are so open-minded and supportive that my son is now happily
skating around the ice and working on getting better and faster at it.
So once again, thank you all the Dufferin Grove Park for helping my
son learn how to skate the fun and natural way!
RINK MEETING AT THE RINK CLUBHOUSE TUESDAY APRIL 12, 7 P.M.
posted April 11, 2005
Itís a stretch to have a rink meeting now for next rink season, as the park greens up and the last zamboni-snow pile finally disappears. But this is the time of year when the big decisions are made - particularly about the length of the next rink season. Our rink has been getting steadily busier every year, and thatís why we opened a week earlier than most other double ice pads last season. But so many people wanted to play shinny hockey that we got in trouble - skaters got frustrated because it was really crowded, since we were the only rink open. One evening we almost had a riot. Weíre suggesting that some other rinks could open earlier next season, but the City is resisting, saying theyíll just open Dufferin Rink later.
Maybe itís time to give a little resistance back. The City spends $3000 to pay one consultant for a one-day performance-evaluation seminar for its staff. That same amount would run two additional rinks for an extra week, with a little ingenuity. Time to make some tough decisions about consultant spending? If you want to know more about these kinds of numbers, go to the park web site and click on research. Or, if youíre a shinny hockey player, come to the rink house meeting on April 12.
Call for participation:
Trying to imitate Walter Gretzky.
posted March 23, 2005
City rinks manager James Dann says that most of next season's rink decisions will be made in the next two weeks. So if you love your rink and want to have your say, THIS is the time. More about that, but first, about being like Walter Gretzky -- RESOLUTE, to have our rink as long as we can.
Even though the Dufferin Rink compressors were turned off for the season on Sunday March 20, there could have been some perfect games of shinny in the evenings following that, under the moon. If we had had half an hour of scrape each day by the zamboni, the rink would be smooth and solid. We have so much ice on the rink (maybe six solid inches) that it can't stop being a rink yet, and as soon as the sun goes down, the underneath ice starts to refreeze the top layer that the sun licked into little mushy bumps during the day.
But our zamboni was taken away first thing Monday, and parked in a storage garage.
When we realized how cold the nights were and how solid the ice was, we tried flooding it at night with the big hose, to see if that would smooth out the rough surface. It worked pretty well the first night, but the hose was too short to reach out into the middle. So we pleaded for more hose, and Parks staff brought it over. Only they brought pieces of hose that didn't fit together, so it was no good. However we thought of Walter Gretzky and his stories of how he used make sure that his backyard rink was as good as it could be for his boys. So we flooded as much as we could -- but a frustrating half inch of soft ice remained by evening.
The zamboni could have fixed it SO fast! (By just scraping off the soft inch or two, on top of the thick hard layer that you can feel underneath.) The city has zambonis. It has zamboni operators on staff who are seriously underemployed between seasons, waiting around at $23 an hour plus benefits. The only thing missing is Walter Gretzky's attitude: "let's just have a rink as long as it's possible."
This past winter was the best rink season in recent memory and a lot of things started to work much better than during the bad old days. Now if more of the neighbourhood rink lovers, all over the city, are willing to get acquainted with a few details of how rinks function, we can move to the next level for next year, together with the city's rink staff. So here's your chance -- please let us know if you would be willing to contribute your thoughts. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
One aim: next year, let's find a way to be more responsive to weather conditions. This applies to all the rinks. Just because the money is not there to run all the rinks full tilt during all the cold months, that doesn't mean there can't be a flexible response to the weather, with scaled-down staffing. This year, for instance, most outdoor rinks were shut down on Feb.27. But the weather's been so cold that by March 23, almost a month later, Christie Pits Rink (as an example) is still full of hard ice except for a little strip along the boards. It would have been easy to start that rink up again for March Break -- one or two zamboni visits each day, open the washrooms -- so much fun for the kids and the night-time shinny players too.
In the spirit of Walter Gretzky, let's not squander what's in our reach -- let's make the rinks as good as they can be.
Skating at the Rink in March (to March 20)
posted March 3, 2005
The City is experimenting with keeping nine city outdoor artificial ice rinks open until the end of the Catholic School Board's March break (March 20). On days when the sun comes out, and it's not freezing cold, the rink will be locked down until evening. But if the weather helps out by staying cool and cloudy, skating under the open sky at Dufferin Rink will keep going for most of the month. The rink house will be staffed from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the snack bar will be open, and both rinks will be available for shinny hockey after nine p.m. as usual. (Closing at 11 p.m. every night.) For details on the other rinks that are remaining open, go to the city rinks section of the park web site: www.dufferinpark.ca.
Although the rink compressors will shut down on March 20, if by some quirk of the weather it's still cold then, we'll work with anyone who wants to, to keep the rink going as a natural ice rink for at least a few days during the second (public school) week of March break. Call the rink for information: 416 392-0913.
Part of the gift from the NHLPA
At the end February, we mailed off a thank-you letter to the National Hockey League Players' Association, for their magnificent gift of 50 hockey outfits including really good skates. We sent them a Dufferin Rink photo-collage and twelve pages of rink user signatures, some with comments like "we hope you get to play soon" and "the yellow skates are so much fun." We included a copy of the February newsletter, describing how the rink staff put the NHLPA gift into service, spray-painting all the skates and helmets yellow and the sticks and gloves red. We told them how much use the equipment gets.
There is some (probably very small) chance that a few NHL players will come to our rink sometime in March to maybe play a bit of shinny hockey with our rink rats. We've been told that Gary Roberts and Kevin Weekes said they could come in March, as did Mike Gartner. The problem seems to be finding a date that everyone can make, when the ice is still in at our rink. Although there are quite a few kids and kids-at-heart at Dufferin Rink who would die of happiness if they got to skate around with some of these hockey greats, realistically it's a dicey plan, especially when you factor in the uncertainty of March weather. Even so, tell your friends and check the park phone message or get on our rink friends list. (E-mail email@example.com or get the rink staff to put you on the phone list.) If a visit is planned at short notice, we want to let everyone know. And if some players do come, rink supervisor Brian Green says he'll send over the brand new zamboni that the City just bought. It's blue and white.
Rink House Crowding
posted March 3, 2005
We've learned our lesson - special events in the rink house can be a pain. We should stop doing them. Both the ten-year fire permit anniversary on Dec.3 and the Puppets on Ice on Feb.27 made the rink house so crowded that people almost had to pick a number to get in and out of the building. That's not fun, that's just annoying. And like so many "special events," the actual events content was somewhat meager in both cases. (In the case of Clay and Paper's puppets on ice, Director David Anderson had fallen full length on the rink a couple of days before and he was so sore he could hardly walk nor talk nor sing - thankfully he's getting better now.) The fact is, the ongoing special events at the rink are the people who go there, the everyday (wonderful) shinny hockey games, the good food on Friday nights and weekends, the moonscape snow hills, the fire in the wood stove. So maybe we should stick with those pleasures and save the big events for outdoors where there's space, when the park is green (spring and summer) or gold (fall).
posted February 1, 2005
Pancakes on Saturday Mornings...
Lots of skaters mean lots of appetite (all that fresh air). The park cooks have added various new foods to the menu this year, and Jessie Sosnicki's farmers' market perogies are back too. Also, for those who want to get an early start at the rink on Saturdays: Mary Sylwester cooks pancakes every Saturday morning, made with fresh-ground buckwheat, fruit compote (Mennonite strawberrries, blueberries, apples from the farmers' markets) and maple syrup. Delicious! (And one Saturday in January when Mary was off sick, Dean Pearlmutter, who was there to skate, put on an apron and made the pancakes instead.)
... and bake oven food on weekends, as long as it lasts
There will be good farmers' market food (For example on Friday Feb 11: Stonehenge Farms lamb and olive braise, Plan B Organics vegan curry, among other things) at the rink weekends from Friday evening at 6 p.m., all weekend as long as it lasts.
posted February 1, 2005
A Fine Rink Season...
Sometimes, especially on weekends, the rink house looks like a European train station - there are so many people coming in and out, or sitting on the benches, and on clear winter days the low sunlight slanting through the windows gives a dreamy illumination to all the goings on. The rink season has been the best in years - between good ice weather and really good ice maintenance by Toronto rinks supervisor Brian Green and his crews, skaters have had a lot of joy. Our rink has stuck to its practice of confining special permits to the after-hours time, and allowing overflow shinny hockey on the pleasure-skating side after 9 p.m. This means someone has to return to the rink to lock up every night at 11 p.m., which is tiring. But it's worth it. There are only three months of ice (maybe three and a half this year), and our rink makes every hour count.
posted February 1, 2005
...and a gift to the Tsunami victims...
$500 in loonies earned from the sale of rink food went to Thailand in the form of a bank draft in January, to help buy a new fishing boat for some traditional fishermen stranded by the tsunami. Your loonies at work.
posted February 1, 2005
Annual bike courier
Campfires, good food, excitement, danger, craziness, amazing bicycles
Note: hockey rink unavailable for shinny hockey from 5 p.m.
The Deeside/Flintshire Flyers Return
posted February 1, 2005
Last year we met a group of British visitors who come for two weeks every
year from Sheffield England to play hockey in Canada with their kids. They
heard about Dufferin Rink on Boxing Day, when some of them were stuck in a
long line-up at Wal-Mart, and got to talking about hockey with others in the
line. After that, the group came and played hockey at our rink almost every
day. When they left, they donated a bit of hockey equipment, and said they'd
This year they're coming again on Feb.10, and heading straight up to Orillia
to play in tournaments there. We may still see them for a day. They're great
sports and they love our rink, and the whole idea of Canada. Here's a letter
from one of the fathers, with a photo of the team of young Brits:
The guys who visited last year in the photo are Sam Horton dressed in
street clothes currently with a broken arm which should be OK for the trip
and my son Thomas back row to Sam's right, Red hair with the Greta Garbo
crossed arms over chest pose.
The team is officially under 13 but my son and one of the goalies are both
only ten. The team is called the Deeside Flyers and has visited Canada every
year for the last 4 years. The players change as they become to old or their
parents can't afford the trip. It started in the beginning out of the old
Altrincham ice rink in Manchester, but when that closed down most of its
players moved to play at the Flintshire rink in Deeside North Wales. To get
enough players for this years trip the net was cast wide with 6 players from
Sheffield, 1 from Chesterfield, 6 from Flintshire and one from Grimsby.
Two families who have done the tour in the past have actually emigrated to
Canada as a result.
I hope this gives you a bit of back ground should you wish to put it in the
park news letter.
We are determine to have a good trip, enjoy our hockey and most of all be
enriched by the warmth of our Canadian hosts.
We look forward to seeing you
Regards David Garrity
The Deeside/Flintshire Flyers from Sheffield England
Yellow Skates and Red Hockey Sticks
posted February 1, 2005
The NHL Players' Association's gift of fifty children's hockey sets arrived in the second week of January. West End park supervisor Tino DeCastro had arranged for this donation, and he then got all the skates sharpened, at McCormick Arena. Then our park staff sprayed the (excellent quality) skates yellow, the hockey sticks red, and put markings on the hockey gloves. The park staff called and faxed all the local schools to let them know that we have helmets here now, so the teachers can bring their kids for a skate without having to drag giant bags of helmets along. A big record book was readied for recording names and I.D. of people borrowing skates, sticks, gloves, helmets. Laces were put into all the skates. In the last week of January, the word went out that the skates and other hockey gear were ready. The first people to borrow them were girls from Argentina, Brazil, and Portugal. They told us that shinny hockey is a really fun sport. Next were several school classes and the McCormick after-school program. Some of those kids went home and told their families, so on the last weekend in January, grandparents and cousins turned up, with more kids. Even on Sunday, when there's only pleasure-skating, there were so many yellow skates on the ice. We've started gathering signatures for a giant thank-you letter to the NHL players - what a wonderful donation.
A Fine Christmas Present from the NHL Players' Association
posted January 15, 2005
Shinny at Dufferin Rink
In October, park supervisor Tino DeCastro told us that the NHL players' association sometimes provides rinks with hockey gear (including skates and sticks) so that kids who can't afford them can still play. Tino knew that we often have school classes and other kids coming to the rink with not even skates or sticks, but a strong desire to play hockey. Last year's "grandmother grant" let us buy a lot of garage sale skates. But hockey skates are much less common at garage sales than figure skates are, so we're chronically short of them. And good used sticks are really rare, as are decent hockey gloves. So Tino helped us fill out an application to the NHLPA. Just before Christmas we found out that Dufferin Rink is one of the sites they chose to donate fifty brand new sets of equipment. That was some surprise!
Here's what it says about the NHLPA "Goals and Dreams Program" on their web site:
"Launched in 1999 as a way for the players to give something back to the game they love, Goals & Dreams has donated full sets of equipment to over 7,000 children in 17 countries. In addition, over 75 ice re-surfacers and more than 110 sets of boards and glass were provided to community arenas in small towns in Europe and North America. Funds were allocated on a pro-rated basis according to the nationalities of the NHLPA's membership. To date, the program has donated more than $15-million to grassroots hockey programs around the world making it the largest program of its kind!"
Instead of passing the hockey sets on to individual kids we're setting up a lending service so that lots of kids can share the pleasure. Some of the pants and pads will do double duty by also being shared with the few remaining City-run hockey house leagues. We'll have a lending library of hockey gear, in enough different sizes (also for girls!) that the effect can multiply. Our grateful thanks to the NHL Players' Association, and to Tino DeCastro, for finding us a solution for our problem of impecunious hockey wannabees.
We've invited the NHLPA to ask their locked-out members whether they might want to come over to our rink when the gift equipment comes, and play a bit of shinny hockey with some of our shinny regulars - including many Portuguese, Jamaican, Greek, Vietnamese -- "rink rats" from so many cultures. But the NHL guys might be too shy. Watch the bulletin board at the rinkhouse, or the sports page here for updates on this.
Wood for the Wood Stove, and Quiet at Night
posted January 15, 2005
Shortly before Christmas, some residents of the apartment building and the houses next to the rink told the park staff and the local councillor that they couldn't stand the late-night hockey noise any more. Annick Mitchell came over one evening and laid out the problem in detail. When the rink was left unlocked all night, shinny hockey games would often happen at two or three in the morning. Then the zamboni would come to resurface the ice at six a.m. Bad news! Between the bang of the pucks on the boards and the beeping of the zamboni whenever it reversed, sleep was getting scarce.
So we settled for locking the rink every night after eleven. Many people told us how disappointed they were, that the pleasure of late-night skating was no longer available. But they understood that the noise had really become a problem.
The silver lining to the cloud is that Annick Mitchell, in gratitude for being able to sleep again, donated a large amount of cut-up wood (that had been stored in her back yard for two years) for the rink house wood stove. Before that we were so low in our wood supply we only had one piece left! But now we have our warm fires in the woodstove again. Rink users (and toboganners) can dry off their wet mitts there. People can read storybooks to kids there, sitting in front of the fire, on the rocking bench donated by Leemala Ragubance. As for the shinny hockey players - at least Dufferin Rink is still open until eleven every night, with shinny on both sides after nine (most city rinks close earlier). And after eleven, the neighbours can get to sleep. That's fair.