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June 2009

Dufferin Grove Park Newsletter


Volume 10, Nr.6, June 2009

Click on picture to enlarge it.

These monkey bars need paint

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


The seventh annual “Day of Delight,” Sunday June 14, 2 to 5 pm.

From Clay and Paper Theatre director David Anderson: “This celebration of love, courtship and desire presents some of Toronto’s most romantic artists. Bring someone you love to beautiful Dufferin Grove Park for an afternoon of music, dance, theatre, a giant puppet parade, a community belly dancing class, stilt-walking and much more!

We will also be celebrating the official launch of Cyclops: Cycling Oriented Puppet Squad. This new initiative, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, will be bringing theatre to cyclists and cyclists to the theatre for the next three years.
Pay-What-You-Can, $10 suggested.”

The Sixth Annual Cooking Fire Theatre Festival, June 17 - 21, dinner from 6 pm, performances from 7 pm.

From producer Lea Ambros: “We are pleased to announce a week-long performance extravaganza celebrating theatre, food and public space in Toronto’s Dufferin Grove Park. Local, national and international theatre companies will present original work that promises to delight, entice, and inspire. Each evening, returning hosts Les Trouvères will lead the audience from site to site throughout the park to see performances ranging from the love story of an old man and a beautiful pigeon to a comic meditation on going on a journey. Delicious organic meals will be served to the audience over cooking fires and from Dufferin Grove Park’s two wood-fired outdoor community bake ovens. Building on the success of the last five years, this year’s Cooking Fire Theatre Festival will offer the experience of enchanting and challenging theatre, wonderful food and the beginning of summer.” For a schedule and descriptions of the various pieces, click here

Cooking Fire Festival Gallery

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: Cooking Fire Theatre Festival Wednesday June 17 to Sunday June 21 (performances begin at 7:00 PM.)

Solo Chicken & BoucharDanse (Toronto) Feather and Bill Every day of the year, Bill puts on his slacks and suspenders and his tweed hat and heads out to the park to feed the pigeons. On what at first seems like an ordinary summer day Bill meets the bird of his dreams, the elegant and impetuous Feather. Through dance, movement, puppetry and clown we watch the blossoming of what could be a life-long love, created by acclaimed artists Lisa Anne Ross and Sylvie Bouchard.

Urban Spine (Toronto) Nurture Dare these mothers step off of their manicured world onto real grass? Can they baby-proof the park to their standards? Will you help them wrap the trees in bubble wrap? This new piece by environmental theatre company Urban Spine features singing, dancing, bizarre urban legends and a cast of performers who are also new mothers exploring their absurd reactions to real fears.

Théâtre Biscornu (Quebec City) Le Rire Muet Inspired by silent films from the beginning of the 20th century, this show will make the whole family smile. Featuring three mute characters who find themselves in a bizarre love triangle, Le Rire Muet brings black and white back in style, in a show where misunderstandings arise and laughter abounds!

Satellite Theatre in association with Compagnie Houppz! (Montreal/Strasbourg) Mouving Three characters wait for a bus. Of course, it never comes. Not to be deterred, their imaginations conjure a series of delightfully absurd situations that send the audience to far off places without ever leaving the ground. This new comedy combines live music, clown and marshmallows to explore humanity’s love affair with the grand voyage.

Zuppa Theatre (Halifax) Very Secret Ceremony The sun is setting in Dufferin Grove Park. One day is ending and another beginning. In partnership with Halifax's Verve Mwendo Dance, Very Secret Ceremony is inspired by various dance forms and created specifically for The Cooking Fire Theatre Festival. An end of day performance from the company who brought us Open Theatre Kitchen and Uncle Oscar's Experiment.

Performances begin 7:00 PM, dinner served from 6:00 PM
Admission is pay-what-you-can ($10 suggested donation) Festival info line: 416-655-4841


Soccer field, Saturdays 2 pm to dusk. Sundays, dawn to dusk The soccer field is used by the Toronto Eagles Soccer Club Monday through Saturday noon. Then from Saturday 2pm to Sunday evening, it’s available for free community use (on an “everyone welcome” basis). The park’s recreation staff help to allocate the field, so that regular users can schedule their times.
As of the beginning of June, there were no fixed arrangements on Saturdays (times are available).
On Sundays the schedule is :
11:30am - 12:30 Kids Soccer; 12:30-2pm Women's Soccer; 2-4pm Ultimate Frisbee; 4-6pm Cricket from the baseball diamond. All of these sports welcome drop-in users. For more information, or to set up another time slot, contact

Hockey pad: LGBT Ball Hockey Sundays 8-10pm, and Women’s Ball Hockey 7-9pm Mondays (beginning June 15). To book a ball hockey time:


Unlike at other City campfire sites, there is no fee for having a campfire at Dufferin Grove, and there’s a reason for that. If you and your friends make a campfire at the park, you’ve taken on a park job: you’ll be helping with park oversight while you’re at the fire.

The campfires started in 1994, to increase the night-time liveliness of the park and therefore make the park safer and friendlier. The two fire-sites are intentionally located right by the main park thoroughfare. Everyone can pass nearby and enjoy the beautiful light of the fire, and the smell of food roasting on the grill. This works wonders on other park users. Campfire cooks often share the food they cook, if someone comes along hungry or just curious.

A city is a place of many strangers, and it can be scary – a dark park even more so. But a campfire is a reassuring circle of light and activity. So the campfire participants contribute the neighbourliness of the park. A few times (very few) there has been trouble elsewhere in the park, and the campfire participants have gone to help. The trouble was quickly defused. Safety in numbers! This is exactly the point of a lively park – trouble goes somewhere else. So if you want to have a campfire, don’t forget: you’ll have an important job. If you like that task, you can book a time with


The wading pool renovation is behind schedule. City Councillor Adam Giambrone’s office originally thought that the remaining plumbing and the new coating on the pool surface would begin as soon as the weather warmed up in early spring. Then they were informed that the maple keys would drop onto the wet concrete and so would be better to wait until they had all dropped, and sweep the area clean first.

However, the work couldn’t begin then either (mid-May) because the contractor was held up with rain elsewhere. Then it seemed that construction would begin the last week of May, but the special drain needed was on back-order and hadn’t arrived yet.

Then the back-ordered drain arrived but the contractor was busy doing the railpath park. On June 3, City project manager Peter Didiano said the contractor would be finished the railpath work on Monday June 8 and would begin the Dufferin Grove wading pool work on Tuesday June 9.

Councillor Giambrone’s assistant Chris Gallop is following the progress closely. Parks supervisor Peter Leiss has assured him that the wading pool will be ready to open on the citywide opening date of June 27. The two problems are

  1. Last fall the contractor did the work in nine and a half days, but those days were spread over two and a half months.
  2. Parks users had an agreement with the City in the last few years, that the wading pool could be open on any days when there was an early heat wave (temperatures over 29 degrees for two days running). This would apply to heat waves during the whole month of June. This year, hot-weather pool days before summer vacation will not be possible if the renovation is still unfinished.

As during last fall, the website will record all work being done.


1. Playground changes: City Councillor Adam Giambrone announced to playground users on May 15 that there will be no decisions on Dufferin Grove playground changes until next year. The councillor felt that the budget available ($75,000) was inadequate, and also that more consultation would be good.

The triangle-bulletin board in the playground has many photos of different playgrounds, and no doubt there will continue to be lots of talk among parents and kids, as they’re in the playground, about how any funds might best be spent. People are sending in pictures of playgrounds that they admired in other parts of Canada and in other countries – they are posted on the CELOS website and also on – have a look.

Meantime, Toronto’s ongoing citywide playground changes are rather uneven. At R.V.Burgess Park in the Thorncliffe Park area (North York), 30,000 newcomers (mostly families with children) are squeezed into apartments built for 12,000. Their park playground structure was demolished in the big playground purge of 2002, and it’s never been replaced. They have been told there is no money to add any equipment until 2014 (and even then only $50,000). Meantime, at Vermont Park, around $500,000 is budgeted to renovate the park, including replacing the current wooden structure with a bigger one. Dovercourt Park, which now has a wood-and-metal structure, will get a new metal-and-plastic structure in the fall of 2009. Their budget is $30,000 for a new sand base and $40,000 for the structure. The existing structure is to be discarded.

2. Playground repairs: The push for repairing, re-using, recycling, has not really reached the playground world yet. Playground manufacturers suggest discarding a playground after 15 to 20 years, and buying a new one.

The idea that fixing rather than replacing playground equipment might open the city to lawsuits is very widespread. CELOS used the Freedom of Information Act last year to check into playground-related claims against the City. There have been only nine, and eight of them had to do with swing s-hooks breaking and frames giving way. More fixing, not less, is needed!

Happily, the swings at Dufferin Grove all had new chains put on last summer. This spring, one of the wooden steps leading up to the baby slide was rebuilt, a missing carriage bolt was replaced on a platform railing, and some protruding nails were pulled out of the split rail fence. Still to do: replacing the missing teeter-totter arm and the missing platform rail with the “steering wheel.” Also the “spider” climber needs some rust sanded off and some new paint, and the monkey bars need the torn plastic coating removed and replaced with some paint. The City’s technical services staff say they’re coming back soon to do all those things. If they don’t get there, volunteers may shortly need to step up.

The throwaway-playground days may soon come to a close, as money gets scarcer. Then adaptation, ingenuity of repair, and imagination may return to playgrounds again. It will be interesting!


In mid-May it seemed that the water for the playground (including the cob courtyard) wouldn’t be turned on until the wading pool renovation was done. With Councillor Giambrone’s intervention, that decision was changed. Having water at the cob sinks meant the snack bar could open on weekends, and the kids could resume their engineering practice, making rivers and dams in the sandpit. (Park friend Simon Evans put the taps back on, which he has been faithfully doing every spring for four years, and the City plumbers, Tom Feeney and Eugene Kenny, reconnected the water heater).

Having water also made the yearly cob repair easier. The counter was scrubbed and broken shingles were replaced on the top of the wall. The dysfunctional fireplace was removed (by Jenny Cook, with help from Heidrun Gabel-Koepff). Jenny found that the top part of the fireplace was inhabited by a big ant colony, which was not fun when she was chipping away at the cob during removal. She wondered if the whole cob wall had been colonized, but it turned out to be a very limited section only. (The world contains many more insects than people…)

Next on the cob maintenance list is rebuilding the wall where the fireplace was, and re-plastering the cob benches where the plaster has given way. Heidrun is the main experimenter, trying out new recipes for earth-based plaster that work in a cold climate. This year she plans to try adding 8% cement powder, to see what happens. She and Jenny will be holding workshops to rebuild the cob wall, in July. To take part and learn how to cob, talk to the summer park staff or contact


The park’s wireless “hotspot” internet access has been intermittent, so at the end of May, the Wireless Toronto people came to reconfigure it. Gabe Sawney and Michael Perreira brought some new parts that will hopefully allow access from most parts of the park. They brought along a PhD student from Auckland New Zealand, Alex DeFreitas. Alex is studying the effect of free wireless internet access on how people use the internet, so he’ll be walking around the park this summer, looking to talk to people who are catching up on their e-mails under the trees.

In the years since the Wireless Toronto folks installed the wireless access at Dufferin Grove (with start-up support from Kijiji), it’s been interesting to see who comes to use it. Newcomers living at Dover Square, who have a laptop but not the funds to pay for home internet, are one group. Young travelers are another, especially in summer. Andrew Akiwenzie, the fisherman from Georgian Bay who sells at the farmers’ market, brings his computer down to the market because he only has dial-up internet at home, and he can work faster at the park with the high-speed wireless.

The people from Wireless Toronto do their connecting work as a gift to the community. They welcome helpers, to hook up more cafés, community centres, parks, etc. To find out more, or volunteer:


The fountain at the little marsh near Dufferin Street lasted for 12 years, but then it began to falter. Gene Threndyle, who built the fountain with help from park staff in 1997, figured out a simpler arrangement and brought his landscaping crew over to the park at the end of May, to remove the metal “soup bowls” that used to catch the water, and replace them with a concrete circle that can channel the water back into the pump chamber (the water recirculates). As soon as the City plumber, Tom Feeney, installs the pump for the season, the new system can be tried out.


This is a very good time to get local carpenters, electricians, plumbers, stonemasons seamstresses, shoemakers, upholsterers and other trades to fix things and make them work better. The website has a section called “neighbourhoods.” It has a lot of local neighbourhood news, but right near the top it also has a red link called “Local Service Providers.” This is a long indexed list of various local trades and skills. The list is made by posting every recommendation (and a few warnings) from the five neighbourhood e-lists. Every once in a while, there’s also a plausible self-recommendation, such as this one from local contractor Winston Abernethy
“I honestly am confident that I can facilitate the careful and professional reroofing of any shingle or flat roof. I actually believe there is a niche here for me as there is a shortage of sober, clean and responsible roofers in the core. If you know me well you know I will stand behind my work to an unreasonable degree...if you don't I would appreciate it if you could let me speak to you regarding any needs you have regarding your roof.” To get in touch with Winston:

The local service list doesn’t take ads, only local recommendations. We’ll be looking for a corroboration backing up Winston’s testimonial, but since he knows half the neighbourhood, that probably won’t be hard.


Bev is a certified personal trainer and certified Older Adult Specialist with considerable experience in sports training. She runs Active Age Fitness. She writes: "I have noticed that neighbourhoods with active running and walking clubs in Toronto seem to be friendlier and safer. So I started the Monday Night Run/Walk Club in February, and there has been an excellent response. There is a different route every week with maps provided - historical tidbits about our neighbourhood will keep you focused on the scenery rather than your quads. You will really get to know the area and have good company at the same time! Meet 6:30 p.m. every Monday at the Chelsea Lofts, 1375 Dupont St, SE corner of Lansdowne and Dupont. Easy-pace run or walk, everyone is welcome."



The street will be for pedestrians only, from Lansdowne to Christie. Last year it was filled with vendors, interesting information tables, outdoor eating-places, impromptu performers, and strolling people. To find out more:

Metrolinx GO Rail Open House, Lithuanian Hall, 1573 Bloor Street West Tuesday June 9, 3- 8 pm.

This should be lively. The people living around the Junction area, where the pile drivers constructing the high-speed rail underpass have been firing off diesel explosions many time a day for months, are now seeking an injunction. The website collects all local e-list comments on the rail construction. Some samples: “Our house was shaking all day and my nerves feel like someone put them through a juicer…. I served for 3 years in the Israeli army- back in the 80's in south Lebanon and the West Bank. The current noise feels to me like a war zone, with constant shelling going on….I was just informed by a grocer on Osler Avenue that the GO construction workers get physical checkups every few weeks due to the stress of the shocks. GO Rail obviously knows that there is the potential for long term injury…. I work from home full-time because like many major corporations, my company decided to shut down its expensive Toronto office and force its staff to work from home. Our home is not even that close to the tracks and my water glass started moving across my partner’s desk from the vibrations…. Currently, the sound right at source (i.e. the pile drivers) is ~ 115 dB. That is 8X more sound pressure than is considered non-harmful, the safe level being < 85 dB. ….OK, now part of my ceiling has fallen down! I have big craters throughout my house in the ceilings and walls. That high pitch vibrator shook my house so badly a huge piece of plaster has fallen down in my living room. …My dog, whose canine hearing is far more acute and sensitive then my own, started frantically barking outside to come in and is now pacing around my feet with his tail between his legs…The company is giving out free yellow industrial ear-muffs, do they make them for pets and my infant baby?…. “

To find out more, and also about the 350 “dirty diesel” trains planned to pass through the neighbourhood daily, and the cleaner electric alternative, go to


Market manager Anne Freeman sends out weekly market news. To get on her list, go to the market page at A sample from her June 4 news: “The Greenfields report: Cool weather with night temperatures dipping dangerously close to freezing, may not be everyone's favorite, but it makes our spring greens tastier than ever. Right out of our fields we'll have wonderful tender bunches of CHARD in all colours, Green and Black KALE, COLLARDS, Red MUSTARD, mild Red RADISHES, RHUBARB, ASPARAGUS and the last of the SUNCHOKES until fall. The farm is a buzz of activity with planting, harvesting, weeding, and of course farmers' markets all happening at the same time now.”


Newsletter prepared by: Jutta Mason

Illustrations: Jane LowBeer

Published by: CELOS

Web sites: Henrik Bechmann, Aseel Al Najim,

Park phone: 416 392-0913

Park web site:


June newsletter sponsors: Scooter Girl Toys, Edward Cayley.

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