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News 2008

Latest News 2008

From the December 2008 Newsletter:

PAYOUT TIME for three “city secrets” bought as 2004 Christmas presents

Back in December 2004, there was this newsletter item: BUY A CITY SECRET

Pick your topic from our list. It's a shame that it had to come to this. But in case you have someone on your Christmas list who has everything, buy them a Freedom of Information appeal, for $25. It's a highly original present, and it's a gift that keeps on giving - sooner or later, if we can afford to buy enough appeals, the city will begin to answer the citizens' questions directly. (The gift appeal comes with a gilt card featuring one of Jane LowBeer's original park illustrations, and as we get each answer, the sponsors get a loaf of fresh park bread and a framed record of the answer put up on the rink house wall).

Four “city secrets” appeals were sold that month. One was settled almost immediately, and the other three have now – after 4 years – been settled (well, one is almost settled). It's been so long that the interest on the “city secrets” purchase has compounded -- by now the loaf of bread has multiplied into two loaves of bread, a block of cinnamon buns, a Dufferin Grove farmers' market calendar and a dozen park cookies. The display of the answers will be posted on the rink house wall on Dec. 27, and the payouts to city secrets purchasers will be delivered the same week.

The “city secrets” concerned how playground replacement/repair funds were spent, how many injury claims (playgrounds and rinks) have been made, and their details (no names), and what the settlements were. The information will be posted on the rink house wall on the Dec.27 weekend, for the rest of rink season.

From the December 2008 Newsletter:


Market manager Anne Freeman has collaborated with photographer and long-time park friend Laura Berman to create a very fine 2009 calendar with beautiful pictures of the farmers who come to the Dufferin Grove market, on their own turf. Every page includes favorite recipes of market vendors as well, and some bits of commentary on growing and harvesting at those particular farms (or in the woods, for wild foods, or out on Georgian Bay, in the case of Akiwenzie’s Fish). The calendar, with final design by Georgie Donais, is an evocative reflection of how country meets city at Dufferin Grove Park. It’s also a market fundraiser, with the calendar costing $15 including tax. Anne Freeman says that mail orders were coming in fast ( even before the official launch at the market. Hopefully she won’t run out.

From the December 2008 Newsletter:


The Globe’s financial section recently reported that because of the danger of pirates taking over cargo ships near the Panama Canal, big ships from China will have to go all the way around Cape Horn and won’t be able to get their goods here in time for Christmas.

What if people have to find goods of local manufacture instead? John Sewell recently gave a talk at CELOS, the little research organization that originated at Dufferin Grove Park (it’s pronounced “see-loss” and it stands for: CEntre for LOcal Research into Public Space). John spoke about Jane Jacobs’ watchword for cities: Import replacement. See what people need and make it right here. Impossible? Has almost all manufacturing left the city, has it all gone right out of the whole country?

Three CELOS researchers recently went to a very lively place in Kitchener called The Working Centre, where they use the word “producerism.” Ken Westhues, a professor who is also part of the Working Centre, sent CELOS his fine essay on the subject. It’s posted on, in the “on the road” section, and there’s a copy on the rink library shelf. Then park friend Tanya Leroux bought Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,” for the park library. Kingsolver writes that the book is about “how our family was changed by our first year of deliberately eating food produced from the same place where we worked, went to school, loved our neighbours, drank the water, and breathed the air.”

Local food (for instance from the farmers’ market) and local gifts (from Lisa Logan’s craft fair) are a good contribution. Georgie Donais brought local building with local clay and straw into the park three years ago. So many park users, including many hard-working children, joined in. This winter there will be a continuation of the park conversation about local production, as part of the Speakers’ Series that began in the summer and resumes in January. Everyone welcome.

From the December 2008 Newsletter:


This is a program to follow neighbourhood-based cases through the court system. The cases that courts researcher Michael Monastyrskyj is following at the moment include:
a) the cyclist who lost his leg after being run over by an angry cab driver, just down the street on Dovercourt
b) the small-time drug dealer (a lost 'local boy') who robbed an acquaintance near Bloor and Lansdowne with a fake gun and real terror, so he’s in jail for the winter
c) the new non-English-speaking Chinese owners of a former shady bar on Bloor Street, who were hit from both sides -- windows smashed by angry dealers no longer allowed in, and a humiliating raid by police who thought they were blitzing the previous owner. There are eight other cases, all posted on The courts web pages include Michael’s fascinating blog “observed in court” about general events there. Readers who want to see a case for themselves are welcome to go along with Michael to a court date: contact him at

From the December 2008 Newsletter:


The annual December shoe thief is back again, stealing very ordinary shoes in the rink house, so that little kids, and adults too, have to go home in skates or in their socks. One evening recently, lead rink staff Mayssan Shuja lent her spare boots to a women whose shoes were gone, so she could get home. The woman couldn't believe that the staff would do that. Mayssan said – “why not? I can go home in my work boots, and you can give me back my other boots tomorrow.” And that’s what happened. But in case the staff run out of spare boots, please lock you shoes in the 25-cent lockers. It’s SO worth it. If you don’t have a quarter, the staff will lend you one.

Meantime, the annual "caution, shoe thief" signs have to go up on the door again. And if we find you, shoe thief, you’ll be doing a lot of rink service hours before you’re allowed back on the ice.

From the November 2008 Newsletter:

Saturday November 8: Bishop Marrocco Catholic High School Park Gardening Day

Students from Bishop Marrocco (at the corner of Bloor and Dundas) will be returning to Dufferin Grove Park to help out with playground maintenance and gardening on the morning of November 8. Last time (October 18) they helped out a lot in the playground. They shovelled the sand back into the little kids’ almost-empty sandbox and dug up the earth under the climbers so that any kid who fell would land on soft ground. They raked out the big sandpit and tidied the toys. Then they planted daffodil bulbs (donated to the park by Green Here) in the cob garden. Their teacher, Steve De Quintal, recently transferred to Bishop Marrocco from St. Mary’s Catholic High School, located at the north edge of the park.

St.Mary’s students also come and help with the gardens (their Environment Club, run by science teacher Christine Walters, even grew its own park vegetable garden this year). Recreation staff Anna Bekerman works with all the students, and says the newcomer students have so many interesting stories to tell about the countries they came from.

From the November 2008 Newsletter:


Courts follow-up from Michael Monastyrskyj: Liam Campbell, accused of multiple offenses including setting fires in garages and on construction sites near this neighbourhood over a year ago, appeared in court again on Monday November 3, on an earlier charge of assault with a weapon. “When Campbell is brought in, he is neatly dressed in a brown corduroy blazer. He smiles warmly to a young well-dressed black woman and to an older black couple who are with the woman. Campbell's lawyer, Lydia Riva, is present. [The crown] says he has decided "there is no reasonable prospect of conviction." He says the complainant is a transient and while his whereabouts are known, the Crown doesn't think a conviction is possible. He says "The Crown is exercising its discretion to withdraw the charges." Campbell has been in jail since April 8, but the arson charges seem to be still a long way from coming to trial.

From the October 2008 Newsletter:

Bishop Marrocco School PARK CLEANUP DAYS

On October 18, and again on November 8, students from Bishop Marrocco Catholic High School are coming to the park to help clean litter and dig up the sand under the playground equipment (so the kids won’t break their bones if they fall). Students from that school have also helped out making Night of Dread puppets, for years. The school is a distance away from the park, at Bloor where it’s crossed by Dundas. But many of the students use Dufferin Grove Park, and contribute to its liveliness.

From the October 2008 Newsletter:


Since last February, Michael has been following local arrests through court, to find out what happens afterwards. This is the first of regular monthly excerpts from his court diary. A local woman, J.B., who grew up in this neighbourhood, was arrested on Bloor near Lansdowne on April 1 2008. Although the suspicion of drug-dealing is the main reason why people in the neighbourhood have been worried about J.B., her charges in this case were robbery, forcible confinement, threatening death, threatening bodily harm, and assault. Such serious charges meant that no bail was granted.

May 12, 2008, Courtroom 503, College Park Court. The court session begins at 10am. Court officers bring J.B. to the court at 11:10am. J.B.’s lawyer isn't present. Instead a law student is there as an agent for J.B.’s lawyer. It is common for students to appear in place of lawyers for routine appearances where little more than a new date is set. While the court is dealing with another case, J.B angrily asks the student why she hasn't been in to see her. "Why am I sitting here? So that you can look at me like I'm a monster?" she asks. "Do I look like a monster?" The judge asks for quiet. This seems to make her angrier. "F** this. Yo, take me out of here then." Court officers escort J.B. out.

Ten minutes later she is brought back in. The student representing J.B. tells the judge her office has only received partial disclosure. She notes this is the fourth time they have asked for all the disclosure. The defense is still missing a statement from the victim and a DVD. The Crown says the DVD will be available by J.B.’s next appearance. J.B. asks "What happens if the there's no DVD then?" The judge replies, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it." J.B. responds, "That will be a nice bridge to cross. You take people's freedom lightly. I hope you can sleep at night." J.B.’s next appearance is set for June 2.

But disclosure (the Crown’s evidence against an accused, which the defense lawyer has to be shown to begin preparing a defense) was still not ready in June, so J.B. was brought back to the Vanier Women’s Prison to wait.

July 28, Courtroom 503, College Park Court. Officers bring J.B. to the prisoners' box at 10:15. The Crown tells the judge that the Crown wishes to withdraw the charges, but first offers some background on the case. The charges are all related to an incident that happened at the end of March. The complainant is a woman of no fixed address, but someone who the police know. However, the police lost contact and haven't seen her in three months despite efforts to find her. Those efforts included looking through databases of sudden deaths. After the Crown finishes speaking, the judge tells the clerk to mark the charges as withdrawn. He then calls a recess.

At this point I don't know the judge's name but want to find out. When I try to walk up to the court clerk to ask, a uniformed court officer says very sharply "Hey! Get back! You can't approach the court!" I step back and go outside. A few minutes later I see the officer who snapped at me, in the hallway. I ask him if he can tell me the name of the judge. He politely says, "Sutherland, I think."

After four months in jail without her case coming to trial, J.B. is free to go. She gets on the elevator with a friend. Using some unprintable expletives, she expresses her contempt for the police, saying she's not afraid of them. J.B. has been seen at Bloor and Lansdowne less often than formerly, since she got out.

From the September 2008 Newsletter:


Saturday Sept. 13, 10 a.m., noon, after-lunch, and six pm.
10 a.m. Clean out your basement and join the Lawn Sale on the east side of the park in the morning, and try not to buy too many things from your neighbours! Kids’ toys and clothes always go well.
Noon: Hot Dog Lunch near 157 Havelock St., courtesy of City Councillor Adam Giambrone.
After lunch: Kids Games in the afternoon organized by local parents.
6 pm: Potluck Dinner with Cakewalk over by the park ovens. Pizza-making for the kids too, with Dufferin Grove staff ($2 per pizza).

Dufferin Grove's SPEAKERS’ SERIES #5:

Friday, September 5, 2008
San Francisco activist, and Critical Mass co-founder Chris Carlson will be speaking about his new book "Nowtopia - How Pirate Radio Programmers and Outlaw Cyclists and Vacant Lot Gardeners are Creating Community"

Time: 7.30 pm near the bake oven, or in the Rink House in case of rain. From organizer Andrew Munger: “Chris is a very engaging speaker and will be discussing issues of interest to our community.” From park friend and California ex-pat Matt Price: “Chris is an awesome force -- it's great to have him coming here, people should really be excited about him. He's also the force behind Processed World, for those of you who remember that, and a huge raft of other stuff in San Francisco.”

Grove Community School FALL FAMILY JAMBOREE.

Sunday, September 21st, 1- 5pm From organizers Joe Jacobs and Sarah Elliott: “To celebrate the continued development of west end Toronto's progressive new alternative, public elementary school, the Grove Community School is welcoming families and children to join them in the park for delicious roasted corn on the cob along with musical performances, yoga, giant puppets, stilt walking and other hands-on art activities and educational workshops.

Scheduled musical guests include Laura Repo, Alex Lukashevsky, Jim Creeggan (of Barenaked Ladies) and friends, Sho Mo and the Monkey Bunch, and Dave Wall (of Bourbon Tabernacle Choir) and friends.

The Grove Community School is in the feasibility stage of development with the Toronto District School Board, with the intention of starting the school in September 2009 at a location near the Dufferin Grove neighbourhood. The school will be focused on environmentalism, social justice, community activism and arts infusion. For more information, visit the website,

STORY: THE TIDY BURGLARS or, why the rink house lights stay on at night

People’s lights should be turned off at night, and so should the lights at the rink house. But: a dark rink house sometimes invites break-ins. Early one morning in the middle of August, there was a small hole in the window of the back door, and it was evident that there had been a break-in – the park computer’s hard drive was missing. The screen and printer were still in their places and the wires disconnected from the computer had been neatly put back. Both the back door and the double doors inside the rink house had been opened, and on the floor was the only bit of mess – a thick piece of wire bent into a shape that could snag crash bars on doors and so pull the doors open.

The window got fixed, but the next morning there was another small hole in the door-window and the building had been broken into again! This time a few cookies were missing (but the container lid was replaced), plus the change cup in the snack bar was empty. There might have been $3 in there. Otherwise, no mess.

From then on the staff left the lights on at night and padlocked the doors, just to make it obvious that there was no point in breaking the window again.Notice to burglars: if you’re breaking in because you need money to buy food, staff will be happy to give you free food. Just ask. You can swap for small kitchen chores: a win-win. No need to tell the staff you’re a burglar – no questions asked.


At neighbourhood meetings and in e-mail discussion groups in this neighbourhood, crime and the justice system are a frequent topic. It's common for people to say that the justice system is just a "revolving door" which fails to address neighbourhood concerns. Many people find it hard to understand how courts work, or how a bail hearing deals with someone who was arrested in the neighbourhood – how courts decide who can be released, what the bail conditions are, and what happens next.

CELOS, the little research organization that began at Dufferin Grove Park, has been following the occasional case through court for about ten years now. Then last February, neighbourhood resident Michael Monastyrskyj began following 14 local arrests in more detail, going to every court appearance at Old City Hall. (In this case, neighbourhood means roughly the area bordered by Dundas to the south, Christie to the east, Davenport to the north, and Dundas West to the west.) Michael has been regularly discussing his observations with Belinda Cole (a CELOS researcher who has a law degree although she is not a lawyer), and with Jutta Mason. Both Jutta and Belinda have gone to court occasionally as well. Michael has also been posting accounts of the cases (with proper attention to privacy rights and publication bans) on the web site.

The arrests made in the neighbourhood carried charges ranging from assault (often fighting), to arson, to sexual assault, to selling illegal drugs, to bike theft, to possession of a gun, to manufacturing and selling wine illegally, to murder. Some cases have been dropped and some suspects are still in jail awaiting disclosure of the evidence against them (some without a lawyer), four months after their arrests. One 21-year-old man was released for insufficient evidence to convict him of possession of an illegal handgun, and was then killed in a gunfight in Scarborough two weeks later. We had spoken with his grandmother and listened to his father in court during the first arrest, and then read of his death in the newspaper.

On of the main inspirations for this project is the Norwegian criminologist Nils Christie (who's been to the park), and who has written on the importance of conflict follow-up in building strong communities. Following neighbors who are in trouble into court brings out a more detailed picture than any news account, of the troubles that people encounter or create. It’s engaging and fascinating and very thought-provoking: that’s why court proceedings are public in a democracy. Michael is willing to take anyone from the neighbourhood along with him when he goes to court: to contact him, e-mail or leave a message for him with Dufferin Grove staff at 416 392-0913.

Beginning in October, Michael will be writing a monthly account of a case he is following, in this newsletter.

Chris Carlson - Dufferin Grove Speakers Series

Dufferin Grove's Speaker Series Continues on Friday, September 5, 2008

Park friend Andrew Munger is bringing San Francisco activist and Critical Mass co-founder Chris Carlson, to discuss his new book "Nowtopia - How Pirate Radio Programmers and Outlaw Cyclists and Vacant Lot Gardeners are Creating Community".

Andrew says "Chris is a very engaging speaker and will be discussing issues of interest to our community."

Copies of "Nowtopia" will be available for purchase.

7:30 PM near the bake oven, or in the Rink House in case of rain.

For more information about "Nowtopia" follow the link below.

Chris’s blog

Hawk At Dufferin Grove Park

Picture was taken by Claire Freeman July 31, 2008

Kim Fry wrote (November 25, 2008)

Thanks for sharing. A good friend called me excitedly today after seeing two hawks communicating and interacting with one another over top of the pit in trinity bellwoods park. It feels like all the birds of prey returning to downtown Toronto are bringing some hope and wonder back into the city. I'll bet one was the very same sharp shinned hawk.

Charlotte wrote (December 19, 2008)

We were delighted to see several hawks in SoCo (South of Corso Italia) in the last few weeks: one a rather large sharp-shinned hawk in the backyard, and one hawk I couldn't see quite clearly in the snow. They are probably in part attracted by the sparrow gangs my husband tenderly cares for.

Here are the short videos (warning: video quality is execrable):

Gene Threndyle wrote (December 19, 2008)

I think those are great videos Charlotte and I'd like to think that's the same bird that flew into my window. I can see in the first video he has yellow green eyes and that, according to the bird guides, means it's a juvenile. Apparently they turn orange red by the second year. Pity the poor creatures out there tonight.

From the August 2008 Newsletter:

click on the image to enlarge it

Dufferin Grove Speakers’ Series #4: Friday August 22, 7.00 pm:

HOW TO BUILD PLAYGROUNDS WHERE KIDS LOVE TO PLAY. Location: near the pizza oven. Rain location: in the rink house.

In the summer of 2000, the Toronto school boards tore out 172 playgrounds.

Around the same time, provincially-funded daycares removed many of their best structures. And the City government began a $6 million “playground safety project” that resulted in the replacement of 49 park playgrounds and the removal of swings, climbers, and other play pieces in hundreds of other park playgrounds. Many parents objected, saying that the new plastic playgrounds and replacement pieces were dull and dumbed down.

All these changes were laid at the door of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA), a manufacturers’ group that puts out voluntary “standards” for playground structures every few years. But the CSA denied that their standards had ever been meant to apply to existing structures – only to new equipment. (That restraint was ignored – see the CELOS website for more of the story.)

In the past few years, not much more has been removed. But now the next phase has begun. Dufferin Grove and some other city playgrounds have recently lost half their swings. And in the spring of 2009 the City plans to remove the whole wooden playground structure at Dufferin Grove, and replace it with a different structure.

Before the Parks planners bring the latest manufacturers’ catalogues out to the park, this fourth summer speakers’ series session will consider, in a broader way, what makes a playground exciting for kids. Invitations to contribute have gone out to:

  1. playground users who have photos and stories to share, of wonderful playgrounds they’ve encountered while travelling.
  2. A parent from the Kew Park playground, which was built by fundraising almost $300,000 (according to City staff Mike Schreiner, Parks and Recreation contributed $36,125, then-Councillor Tom Jacobek contributed $30,000, and Kaboom/Home Depot Play Structures, Central Fairbank Lumber, and Barrymore Furniture contributed $190,000 cash donations and $38,500 of in-kind services,).
  3. Parents who helped set up the Dufferin Grove sand play area, which cost $4000.
  4. A staff person from the Spiral Garden, an artist-run playground used by children who are Bloorview MacMillan Children’s Hospital patients, and also used by day camp kids from all over Toronto.

If you want to bring along photos/stories of good playgrounds that your kids love (including the present Dufferin Grove playground) please call the park at 416 392-0913 and leave your number, or e-mail Kids too! Jutta will call you back.

From the August 2008 Newsletter:


…to Rebecca who works at the pool, and Alternative Grounds Coffee Company, for getting the park another coffee urn …to the Brazilian soccer group that painted temporary soccer lines on rink pad

From the August 2008 Newsletter:

Report on the Dufferin Grove Park Speakers’ Series #3 ''Granny Flats:

How to build them in Toronto, with designer Rohan Walters and home owner Alison Hall. This was held on July 2. The session was not well-attended, but a Star reporter saw the neighbourhood posters and did a full-page story the following week. Then CBC Vancouver picked it up and interviewed Rohan. It turns out that the mayor of North Vancouver lives in a granny flat, and CBC radio interviewed him too. He said the city planners there are more supportive of such flats than Toronto’s planners. Now CBC radio plans to broadcast the story nationally, and other stations have picked up the story too. Meantime, for those park users who couldn’t make it, some of Rohan and Alison’s presentation is mounted on the bulletin board at the back of the wading pool shed. It addresses how to change the city’s no to granny flats to yes'', for people in the neighbourhood who are getting old or whose parents are old, and who want an alternative to institutions.

From the July 2008 Newsletter:


The cob courtyard/wading pool snack bar sinks and faucets seem to have been particular targets for vandalism this year. After the second time the faucets were damaged, park friends Silvie Varone and Simon Evans came up with a new idea for protective sink covers. Silvie decided to build covers in the shape of doll houses. When they are removed during the day the kids can play with them. Tere Ouelette from Scooter Girl Toys donated funds to help pay for the materials, Simon put on new taps, and Silvie built three different dollhouses (one with a “green roof,” of course). Anyone with old dollhouse furniture or little figures of any kind, no longer needed at home: please bring them to the Rec staff for the new park dollhouses! Jennifer Turner, a farmers’ market user, gave the park a wonderful, two-oven stove that‘s been stored in her father-in-law’s basement since the 1960s. This mint-condition appliance should do lot to get the cookies and the mini-pizzas out faster this winter. Jennifer threw in a card table and two chairs and many nice old dishes for park suppers.

From the July 2008 Newsletter:

Invitation from Peter Yu and Susan Driver: Queer Family Sundays at Dufferin Grove:

Sundays starting July 6, 2- 6pm. Peter writes: “A couple of queer families in the west end invite other queer families to get together on Sundays from 2-6pm at Dufferin Grove Park (Dufferin Street, south of Bloor). We'll be meeting somewhere near the playground/wading pool (wherever there is space) and we will have a small rainbow flag hanging from a stroller or a tree to help you find us.

Dufferin Grove Park is a wonderful progressive green space with a shady playground and wading pool, concession stand, and lots of families. This is a chance to get together in an informal, queer-positive and family-positive environment to network, socialize, and support each other in building our families. If you have any questions or need directions, please e-mail, and please feel free to pass this message along to anyone who you think might be interested.”

updated April 8, 2006

Park staff summer 2008:

The park staff (mostly part-time) are Karl Bechmann, Anna Bekerman, Nick Cameron, Cassandra, Ginger Dean, Claire Freeman Fawcett, Anna Galati, Emily Gilbert, Sandy Gribbin, Zio Hersch, Marina DeLuca Howard, Greg Kirk, Matt Leitold, Ava Lightbody, Glynis MacLeod, Pia Maria, Andrea McCoy, Eroca Nicols, Jay Prathan, Rebecca, Mayssan Shuja-Uddin, Mary Sylwester, Teresa Vanneste, Dakota Vine, Amy Withers.

They all work as part-time casual staff, and most have other part-time work as well -- in theatre, music, dance, teaching, translation, union work, or environmental research. Some are part-time students.

These park staff people are paid by the city to make the park run well, but they also add in their additional gifts - their particular talents, their enjoyment of the park friends, their sense of surprise and adventure. In addition, there are three CELOS-contracted assistants, Yo Utano, Michael Monastyrskyj, and Heidrun Gabel-Koepff. The park works through the combined good will of park staff and park friends.

The role of CELOS:

When we have enough money from the food-fundraising, or when we get a grant (we don't like to apply for those very often), we work on projects that interest park users (sometimes at other parks, not only at Dufferin Grove). Often the park workers (part-time staff for the city) have things they'd like to try, but which they can't do as part of their city jobs. Many of these young park workers are also artists, or other kinds of adventurers, and so they have lots of ideas.

From the June 2008 Newsletter:

Dufferin Grove Speaker’s Series #3: Wednesday July 2, 7.30 pm:

click on the image to enlarge it

Granny Flats: How to build them in Toronto, with architect Rohan Walters, home owner Alison Hall and city planner Elise Hug. Location: near the cob courtyard. Rain location: in the rink house.

The provincial government explicitly allows granny flats – small buildings at the back of a property where an elderly or challenged relative could live near enough for family assistance, but self-enclosed for independence. But the city’s planning department generally refuses permission. That was the case when Alison Hall commissioned a design for a granny flat where her garage is, on Delaware, so that her mother could live there and get help when she needs it. Local architect Rohan Walters designed a modest and attractive flat on the same footprint as the garage, but it was still a no go. This third “speakers’ series” conversation will address how to change the city’s no to yes, for people in the neighbourhood who are getting old or whose parents are old, and who want an alternative to institutions. There will be a display of blueprints and existing flats. The presentation will be about 20 minutes; the rest is conversation. See

In August (date still undetermined), the Speakers Series conversation #4 will be about how the “pattern language” of architect and master builder Christopher Alexander works for parks. More information:

From the June 2008 Newsletter:

Neighbourhood History

June 21 all day at the BIG Festival. The park-based research group CELOS will have two neighbourhood history tables near the Lansdowne end of the Bloor Street closure, beside the Yasi’s Place food area. Displays will include Michael Monastyrskyj’s archival photos and old newspaper articles about the Dufferin Race Track (where the mall is now); Tim Groves’ research about the Seiberling Tire Plant and the National Knitting Mill where the women worked, along the CNR tracks between Bloor and Dupont; Adrienne Trent’s family photos and stories of the house her great-great-grandparents built on Havelock Street – she is sixth generation to live there. Also some smaller displays dealing with corner stores, the anti-pollution work in the 1980s of local activists like Virginia Novack, and old maps of this area collected by Scott Dobson. The focus of these history tables will be to show interesting displays but also but also to gather more stories – so if you’ve lived in the area for a while, pass by at the BIG festival neighbourhood history tables on June 21 and share what you know.

click on the image to enlarge it


Neighbourhood History
Dufferin Race Track and other local Stories
Long-time residents Michael Monastyrskyj and Adrienne Trent have collected local photos and stories from 1900 - 1960.

For more information: 416 392 0913

posted May 16, 2008

3rd ANNUAL Clothing SWAP

From Bruce Whitaker’s:

A HUGE THANKS to the volunteers of the 3rd Annual Clothing SWAP. Again, we had lots and lots of clothes not only for neighbors but also for the homeless.

SPECIAL kudos to Eroca, Silvie, Andrew, Michelle and Eroca's pal!

Until next year, stay well!

From the May 2008 Newsletter:

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.

From the May 2008 Newsletter:

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

From the May 2008 Newsletter:

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.

From the May 2008 Newsletter:

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.

From the May 2008 Newsletter:

“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,

From the April 2008 Newsletter:


- From Sylvie Varone and Simon Evans, $80, when they heard that the park had a break-in near the end of the season, and that all the donations from the final Friday Night Supper were stolen. They said they wanted to turn that bad story around, and start it off again in the other direction. It seemed to work: more gifts came to that park after that. - From park friend and grandfather, Edward Cayley: $600 for part of the monthly newsletter costs.

- From Tere Oullette of Scooter Girl Toys: $450 for the rest of the monthly newsletter costs. (Scooter Girl Toys is at Roncesvalles, and Tere has been donating for the newsletter for years because, she says, she loves the park.

- From Bruce Whitaker, five pairs of new kids’ skates for the loaner collection, one for each mortgage sold through Bruce’s Buying Block venture ( And finally, maybe because Simon and Sylvie brought good luck, or the stars were in a very good configuration, those gifts were followed by another even bigger one.

- From the NHL Players’ Association: skates, sticks, gloves and helmets worth $12,000, for a traveling loaner collection out of Wallace Rink. Rink shinny hockey teacher Dan Watson and Recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro submitted an application, and on Good Friday, Tino got a call that their request had succeeded.

From the April 2008 Newsletter:


Third annual “The Grove’s Clothes” clothing swap at the park, is fast approaching: Saturday May 10 (drop-off) and Sunday May 11 (exchange day). Organizer Bruce Whitaker 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, and there is alot - 13 large bags last year, will be donated to shelters. Looking forward to seeing you all!” Park staff Eroca Nicols heads the sorting crew, filling the rink house with a beautiful display.

See Bruce Whitaker's blog about this


From the February 2008 Newsletter:


The web site has become the most frequently visited spin-off from the original web site, at least during the winter. And now the web site is taking a lot of work and attention, as more and more of the research material gets posted. The web site is branching off because it has so much material on its own. As for the website, one of its most active areas is the neighbourhood services page, with a growing list of neighbourhood recommendations (and a few cautions) about roofers, handymen, book-keepers, schools, restaurants – everything. Have a look, and send in your favourites too.

From the February 2008 Newsletter:


The Bloor Supermarket, north side of Bloor at Delaware. The folks who run this are originally Chinese, via Lima, Peru. So their store has a wonderful variety of fresh produce across the spectrum, excellent fresh fruits and vegetables including more unusual items like a variety of spicy peppers, egg plants, bok choi, tomatillos, and almost anything else you fancy. The dairy section has organic milk in returnable bottles, and they sell fresh Montreal bagels that come in at 9 every morning. The proprietors are cosmopolitan and friendly and you’re very likely to run into your neighbours there too – seven days a week.

From the February 2008 Newsletter:


In early February, Ryerson nutrition professor Janet Chappell asked for someone to come and talk to her class about food in Dufferin Grove Park. After the class she donated $200 for new skates for the skate-loaner program. Skate-master Dan Watson is thrilled to go back to Canadian Tire again and get another couple of good pairs of the smaller sizes that are in short supply. And then came a shocker: park friend David Rothberg, who’s been coming to Dufferin Grove for years, announced one day a few weeks ago that he had decided to donate $5000 to the outreach work of the rink staff. In his letter he wrote: “My reasons for asking you to take the money are:

  • I want the feeling of community to permeate my city
  • I prize activity.

David and his wife Alicia Peres are the parents of an enthusiastic small shinny hockey player. They like the fact that the local schools, like the one their son attends, can come to the rinks and have a really good time. So some of the funds found their way to Campbell Rink immediately, and the school visits, with free hot chocolate and free skate and helmet loans, doubled in number. As for the getting the feeling of community to permeate elsewhere – any neighbourhood group that wants a bit of help in livening up their rink, this rink season or next – call 416 392-0913. With this donation, the motto is: “Have campfires/portable bake-oven/loaner skates/Dufferin Grove bread – WILL TRAVEL.”

From the January 2008 Newsletter:


Parks, Forestry and Recreation general manager Brenda Librecz is starting public consultations about a new approach to program user fees, called “Everybody gets to play.” This name is trademarked by the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association, one of whose directors is the previous Parks and Recreation general manager, Claire Tucker Reid. Although a joke is already making the rounds, calling this approach “everybody gets to pay,” the report is not all about cost increases. Parks and Recreation management want to use extra fees to enlarge the subsidy for people who can prove they have low incomes (the “Welcome Policy”), from about 15,000 people receiving it now. Free “priority” community centres are to lose that designation, but at the same time all Toronto school kids are to get free swim lessons (grade three) and skate lessons (grade five). The main idea seems to be the concept of “cost recovery,” with the aim of getting 50% of the program costs covered by user fees. This is a separate income stream from the Parks, Forestry and Recreation tax allocation (now just over $300 million from the city budget).

In the 10 years since amalgamation, the staffing for this division has increased by 743 people (about 100 management and the rest includes a lot of bits and pieces of part-time hours for many people). The budget – adjusted for inflation – has increased by $60 million in “real” dollars over those same years. Part of that increase comes from wage agreements. With a work force that big, management also has a big budgeting problem – wage costs increase by around $10 million every year, even if no additional staff are hired. (The increase is not only from union agreements, but also from the scale of merit increases for management.)

So Parks and Recreation management have a big problem, and to they’re addressing it with a big request for public input. Four public meetings are scheduled, two on January16 and two on January 17. The one closest to downtown is at the new Wellesley Community Centre at the corner of Sherbourne and Wellesley (495 Sherbourne), at 7 pm on Wednesday January 16.

CELOS will be going to all four. To follow the story or contribute your own piece, go to CELOS. How should public space be used in Toronto from now on? Should the skating rinks cost money? Or should there be a strong distinction between registered “learn-to” programs on the one hand, and tax-supported public amenities on the other – like rinks and pools, playgrounds and picnic areas, for all the citizens to enjoy without paying extra? Brenda Librecz is inviting everyone into the conversation.

For the PFR proposal, see backgroundfile-9717.pdf. For an analysis of PFR operating budget trends, see the CELOS report. For trends in Toronto family incomes, compared with surrounding areas, see Losing Ground Key Findings by the United Way. Newsletter-Uploads:January2008/KeyFindings_UnitedWayofGreaterToronto.pdf

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