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  • Summer ’97: Steve Smith and Julie Whitfield of Creative Environmental Education Projects ran the first Dufferin Grove Park Summer Environmental Arts Camp (six one-week sessions of twenty registered campers and ten drop-in children). This was funded by the City of Toronto’s General and Recreational Grants program and the city’s “Breaking the Cycle of Violence” program. We were able to hire youth from the park and the neighbourhood to help staff this camp.
  • Isabel Perez came back to cook over the Big Backyard fire once a week.


  • May ’96: Mario Silva, our city councilor, arranged for the City Property Department to put four eye-level windows into the rink house (at a cost to the city of $8000). Because they did not let in enough air we used $700 of a donation from the Dufferin Mall to replace one of the new windows with a window that opens all the way, thereby making the rink house usable in hot weather.
  • June ’96: we received a grant of almost $7000 from the City of Toronto’s new Food Access Program allowing us to have a kitchen put into the rink house, in two sections. The stove and fridge and cabinets and counters went into the former rink office, and the industrial sinks and pot shelves and dough mixer went into the former slop room across the hall.
  • September ’96: we had a work-day when nine volunteers broke down the concrete block wall between the two narrow change rooms in the rink house, yielding one large light-filled room, usable for community functions and much easier to control during skating season. A carpenter and a bricklayer finished the wall edges for us.
  • January ’97: A grant of $3500 from the Maytree Foundation allowed us to instal a woodstove into the rink house, together with a wrought-iron safety fence.
  • March ’97: Our local Home Depot donated $1000 of track lighting to replace the harsh fluorescent lighting in the rink house.
  • May ’97: The Parks and Recreation signage division installed a sign on the front of the building, naming it the “Dufferin Grove Park Rink and Clubhouse.” For this sign they included a newly designed logo, for a community bake-oven.


  • June 26 ’96: Kick-off concert for the Dufferin Mall “Music in the Park” series. It was rained out, but the scheduled performers made music and danced for each other (and ate pizza) in the rink house while they waited for the rain to stop.
  • July 27 ’96: Councillor Mario Silva’s “Summerfest” neighbourhood garage sale and barbeque. Included a performance of “The Return of the Green Man” by David Anderson’s Clay and Paper Theatre.
  • September 7 ’96: The Havelock and Neighbourhood Street Fair culminated in a neighbourhood potluck supper in the Dufferin Grove Park clubhouse.
  • December 16 ’96: first lighting of the Dufferin Grove Park giant Christmas tree, with carolling by the Choir of St.Anne’s Church. Councillor Mario Silva had these lights put in.
  • Dec.20 ’96: “The Night before Solstice,” with a bonfire and performance by Clay and Paper Theatre and singing by the Darbazi Choir.
  • January – February ’97: five Sunday afternoon sessions, at the rink clubhouse, of “Megacity Referendum Information,” staffed by a graduate student in urban planning.
  • February 25 ’97: a celebration of the new Maytree Foundation woodstove with music and mulled wine and a torchlight skate. Attended by Mayor Barbara Hall. Music by the Darbazi Choir and the Espresso String Quartet (containing two of our rink guards). Good attendance despite a bad blizzard.
  • June 6 ’97: Unsung Heroes of the West End Awards, donated by Pat MacKay and presented by the Honourable Hilary M.Weston, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, to: Harry Kemp, Michelle Cope, Camie Geary-Martin, Hussain Ali, and Phil Capone. Music by the Queen Victoria Public School Steel Band conducted by Vince Fraser; pageant by Clay and Paper Theatre.
  • July 28. ’97: The Caribbean-Canadian Association put on a dance and a barbecue as a fund-raiser for their Caribana Parade float, in the tennis enclosure beside the clubhouse.
  • August 10 ’97: Councillor Mario Silva’s “Summerfest” was held at Dufferin Grove Park, involving a neighbourhood garage sale and free barbecued hot dogs and sardines.
  • August 23 ‘97: Liz Martin, local artist and teacher, made banners for the clubhouse with the children of the summer camp.
  • August 26 ’97: Installation of Toronto’s first permanent outdoor xylophone in a park, beside our music circle. Designed and built by Nuno Cristo and David Anderson, as part of an Ontario Arts Council Community Arts Program project.
  • September 6, ’97: The Havelock and Neighbourhood Street Fair finished with a pizza potluck by the bake oven and line-dancing beside the clubhouse, by torchlight.


  • July-August ’96: the Dufferin Mall “Music in the Park” concerts, every Sunday, produced by Cavan Young.
  • July ---’96: “The Cod Project,” a ten-day youth theatre intensive under the direction of Larry Lewis and Jane Low-Beer of Crankee Consort. Funded by Theatre Ontario.
  • Sept.2 ’96: “Gilgamesh,” performed by Clay and Paper Theatre.
  • March – May ’97: Cavan Young led a ten-week drum workshop at the clubhouse, Wednesday evenings from 7 – 10.
  • July-August ’97: the Dufferin Mall “Music in the Park” concerts, every Sunday, produced by Cavan Young.
  • July 13 ’97: “The Graffiti Project,” a ten-day youth theatre intensive, again under the direction of Larry Lewis and Jane Low-Beer of Crankee Consort, and funded by Theatre Ontario.
  • July 26 ’97: A Jewish Wedding, with Alan Merovitz: an audience-participation performance with Klezmer music that had the audience dancing in concentric circles by the bake-oven. We provided the wedding feast.
  • August 5 –10 ’97: Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, six performances by the 4 Elements Theatre Company by torchlight and candlelight at the music circle. The set crew were odd-jobs workers from the park basketball group.
  • August 14 ’97: The Andrew Timar Suling Trio, playing Indonesian and Canadian music on flute, accordion, and kacapi.
  • August 22 ’97: “The Epic of Mael Duin” by Clay and Paper Theatre.
  • August 27 – 30 ’97: “The Resurrection of Fornax” by Clay and Paper Theatre, four performances of a new play about the mythical goddess of bake-ovens and her connection to our park. Funded by the Ontario Arts Council under their Community Arts Program.

THE BAKE OVEN: In good weather (spring, summer, early fall) the oven was fired up 4-6 days a week to accommodate school classes, day cares and day camps, ESL classes, our summer camp, people from the neighbourhood who come for the Sunday concerts and special events, and functions such as annual picnics and birthday parties. In addition to pizza-making there was once-a-month bread-baking with Donna Bartolini through winter and spring, and once-a-week bread baking with Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer throughout the summer. With their help our bread is getting better; sometimes it’s very, very good.


  • Spring ’96: Margie Rutledge put in a new flowerbed and doubled the size of the vegetable plot. Loblaws donated about 50 perennial plants when our work was brought to the attention of their gardening consultant by Leslie Coates, a long-time friend to this park.
  • Summer ’96: Harry Kemp, a retired steelworker originally from Holland, discovered the gardens and began to help with weeding. This was the start of Harry’s Dufferin Grove gardening activities, which by the summer of ‘97 had become a major occupation for him. Harry says this park should be a showplace, and perhaps he’ll make it so.
  • Fall ’96: Canada Trust’s Friends of the Environment Foundation gave us $4535 for signage and native plants. Gene Threndyle, a local artist and gardener ordered the majority of our plants and directed the planting of almost all the native gardens. Planting was finished at the end of October, with help from classes from St.Mary’s High School, the Ursula Franklin Academy, and Brock Public School.
  • November ’96: We installed a large sign painted by Felisa Shizgal, illustrating some common native plants, and tracing the former course of Garrison Creek through the west end of the city; further, it explained the benefits of rain barrels and local retention of rainwater.
  • Spring ’97: The vegetable garden was enlarged, and we added grains and more food plants for people who come to the park hungry (Ben Figueredo contributed by planting giant tomatoes), and putting in a split-rail farm fence. We put in six new annual and perennial beds. Sandra Flear started a medicinal herbs bed and Margie Rutledge doubled the size of the herb garden. This spring there was quite a lot of planting help from younger schoolchildren and pre-schoolers. Of the parent-child drop-in participants, Sam Dent (aged 5) worked particularly hard at planting.
  • Summer ’97: With the help of about ten odd-jobs people (through the city’s Breaking the Cycle of Violence grant) we added five more native-species beds, to accommodate this year’s new plants. These plants are being purchased by Gene Threndyle with money from our second Canada Trust Friends of the Environment grant (for $5500). With this second grant we also set up a water quality lab to monitor the water flowing through the Dufferin Street storm sewer. The reason for the monitoring (our lab can test for the presence of e-coli) is to contribute practical information to future community meetings about whether it makes sense to divert the local storm water (now sent to Lake Ontario) into the park, either in infiltration beds or a pond/ wetland.

In addition to the usual shinny hockey in the winter, and soccer, baseball, and basketball in warm weather, the Sri Lankan overball players hosted three city-wide tournaments with flags, an umpire, speeches, and food. An attempt by the Parks Department to add an additional overball court didn’t work out. Hopefully the court will be ready next spring.

In four locations we have stump tables with checkerboards glued on them, and stump benches for seats. These were all made by park youth crews working with Jason Abreu. We keep checker pieces on them continuously – this summer we used about 20 packages of cheap plastic checkers. In the winter we have chess and checker tables set up in the rink house.


  • June -- July ’96: Patti Kelly led our first youth leadership training session, with fifteen students. We were unable to get funding for this but managed to squeeze it in anyway.
  • July – August ’96: Liz Martin, local artist and teacher, ran a six-week children’s art program, without charge, at the clubhouse, culminating in an art show and pizza picnic for the families of the students.
  • July – August ’96: John Benningen, a local chef, came once a week to do cooking with youth at the park and also to teach us elementary food service techniques. His gifts to us culminated in the preparation of a feast when judges from Communities in Bloom visited our park.
  • July ’96: Patti Kelly led a special youth training session directed at high-risk children 11-14 who were active in the park. The training sessions alternated with paid odd jobs for these children.
  • March ’97: We added a parent-child drop-in one day a week. This was funded with the help of a donation by Toronto midwife Chris Sternberg.
  • July – August ’97: Youth Leadership Training Program, led by Patti Kelly and Jason Abreu. There were two sessions, each lasting a week and a half, containing 15 and 12 youth, and this time we were funded by the City of Toronto Department of Community Services. Each participant also did 20 hours of supervised volunteer work in west end parks.
  • July – August ’97 Odd-jobs program: for six weeks in summer ’97. This included a two-hour training session and then supervised work with an honorarium at the end of each work period. We had 33 odd-jobs people, who did 1210 hours of work with the summer camp, the gardens, the oven, the parent-child drop-in, and the various theatre and music productions. Several recent-immigrant parents worked alongside their teenage children.


  • August 1 ’96: A group of youth employed at odd jobs stole the purse of our coordinator from the rink house. Four of the youth apologized, repaid their share of money, and did extra volunteer work; the fifth (the ringleader) refused to do these things and was eventually charged. The charges were later dropped because the witness who saw this was worried about his safety if he testified. Attempts to create a sentencing circle for this boy were unsuccessful but we did learn more about how the courts work.
  • September 25 ’96: A middle-of-the-night break-in at the rink house ended in an arrest made with the help of an Intelligard security guard working nights at the Dufferin Mall. Tino De Castro (recreation manager) requested notification of the court date since Parks property was damaged. Through an oversight this did not happen and the young offender was sentenced without input from us.
  • Winter ‘96/97: We took the unusual step of hiring equal numbers of female and male rink guards. But gender parity led to unhappiness at the skating rink. Some young male rink users were persistently verbally abusive to the female rink guards, leading us to have them evicted two times by the Intelligard Security Company. Gradually the youthful behaviours improved. One factor in this improvement may have been that we began to bake a lot of cookies, so the rink house always smelled good and no one was grouchy from being hungry. We got new respect from the troublemakers because of our good cookies. But two young fellows who couldn’t follow the rink’s code of behaviour were finally issued with letters of trespass preventing them from entering park property. One youth made a contract with us to work a set number of volunteer hours, and his letter was withdrawn; the other is still banned from the park.
  • Late winter, and spring ’97: our clubhouse answering machine was stolen (twice) as well as an amplifier (forced entry through a defective door). No one was caught.
  • April ’97: 24 of 26 park light standards were vandalized during a warm night. Two park neighbours who heard noises didn’t call police because of previous frustrating experiences trying to lay such complaints.
  • May ’97: We met with representatives of the Metro Police (Fourteen Division Foot Patrol) and later issued a community brochure of telephone numbers to call when there’s trouble. We wrote several letters about park problems to Police Superintendent Keith Cowling. These letters resulted in prompt attention, and we hope to follow up on this further.

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