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December 2008

Dufferin Grove Park Newsletter


Volume 9, Nr.12, December 2008

"let's meet at the rink" December 31, 2008

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


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.


When Amy Gordon, who lives in Massachusetts and writes urban adventure stories for kids, heard about the Dufferin Grove community bake-oven from a friend about ten years ago, she came to Toronto to find out more about it. Then she wrote a bake oven into the plot of a book about a group of children who look after a park in a big city. This book, part of a series, is called “The Gorillas of Gill Park.” Amy is in town to visit friends this month, and has agreed to do a reading from her book, by the rinkhouse wood-stove at 5 pm on Friday. Amy’s books are written for children from 7 to 12, but they’re fun for adults too. After the reading, Friday night supper food will be available from the zamboni café, and then there’s skating under the stars – a nice way to spend an evening.

click on poster to enlarge it


The vendors at this fair are sheltered by the market tents, outside along the rink house walls, a bit like at European Christmas fairs. Last year the craft fair happened on the same day as the winter’s biggest snowstorm. The crafters came anyway, and – to everyone’s surprise – so did the customers (some of them on skis). The quality of the crafts was very pleasing, and so were the prices. From organizer Lisa Logan: “Head on over on December 14th to meet, greet, treat and buy gifts from your community crafters. This outdoor fair will feature our seasonal favourites as well as new and exciting arts 'n crafts all made available to you at sweet prices in a frosty fun atmosphere! Look out for The Bike Pirates, Feist's Merch Girl Secret Agent, Happy Housewives and many more...Chai & soup from Yasi's place...Live music... Hope to see you there!”


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.


In winter there are lots of birthday-and-skating parties, at the rink-side campfire near the smaller bake-oven. The rink house can’t be booked for birthday parties – it’s open for everybody, not permitted out privately – and even the campfire circle is not closed to drop-ins when there’s a party. Even so, a campfire-and-skating party seems to work very well for celebrations. To book a campfire by the rink, or at the two other park campfire sites, speak to the recreation staff at the rink house, or e-mail


As was the case last year already, there won’t be sit-down community suppers in the rink house – it makes the rink too crowded for skaters. But the tasty market-food suppers will still be available to eat at the regular rink tables or at the bar-stool counter, on Fridays, and then (however long the leftovers last) through the weekend. Every day of the week there’s Mary Sylwester’s warming soup, Sosnicki’s perogies, the mini-pizzas and Beretta’s hot dogs and the park cookies. All that fresh air makes skaters hungry.

Rink News


Rink clubhouse: open Monday to Sunday: 9:00am - 9:00pm
Zamboni Café : Monday-Sunday 10:00am - 8:30pm ''' Shinny hockey:' same hours as the rink clubhouse except Sundays. There is a (strictly enforced) age schedule. From rink staff: If you ever see the wrong age group on the shinny ice, do us a favor and notify the rink staff right away.''

Pleasure-skating: always freely available. After 9:00pm, skating is unsupervised. Then it's like skating on a pond: shinny hockey and pleasure-skating are sometimes happening at the same time and people are responsible for their own use of the rink.

The large rink lights turn off after 11:00pm, and then the rink is locked.

Parking: One good place to park is at Dufferin Mall across the street. After 5 pm. there’s lots of parking across from St.Mary’s School at the north end of the park too.

Rink contacts: 416 392-0913 or The rink phone message will tell you the current ice skating conditions.



This is a website run by CELOS, giving information about all 49 municipal outdoor ice rinks, plus Harbourfront Rink. The site has maps, hours, schedules, phone numbers, ratings, and stormy-weather updates. It also has blogs about the individual rinks, with contributions from skaters. For information or comments:

The website was established because the City’s own website and its “rink hotline” (416 338-RINK) have had long-time problems in supplying up-to-date information. This year was tricky from the start: neither the “hotline” nor the website mentioned that City Hall Rink would be five days late in opening, and – conversely – when the Scarborough Civic Centre Rink had been open for 4 days, the “hotline” still had its March “the season is now closed” message. (City staff are trying to fix these problems.)

Toronto has more outdoor compressor-cooled ice rinks than any city in the world. It’s the free outdoor-ice-skating capital of Canada! It makes sense to run these rinks better, and to get the word out to skaters sooner. Until the City’s information sources change, is available. Response time to a rink user question varies from half an hour to two days, and there’s as much follow-up as the rink user wishes.


Sunday Nights From 9:30pm - 11:00pm Level One Beginner Shinny Drop-in: Are you a wannabe shinny hockey player, but just starting to get the hang of it? Dufferin Rink offers an hour of protected drop-in shinny hockey time, Sunday nights from 9:30pm - 11:00pm. None of the Dufferin Rink hot shots are allowed on the ice during that time. No need to register, and it's free, with a staff resource person on the ice who will pass to you, help you with drills, and give you pointers if you want. Or you can just practice as you choose. Space is limited each night to 30 players, and is on a first come first serve basis. For more information, e-mail or call the park at 416 392-0913. Ask for Dan.

Wednesday Nights From 10:00pm - 11:00pm Level One Beginner Shinny Skills Program: Are you new to skating, and want to try out the national game? Dufferin Rink offers skills practice and protected shinny hockey time for beginner skaters, Wednesday nights from 10:00pm - 11:00pm. None of the Dufferin Rink hot shots are allowed on the ice during that time. A resource person will be there to help you improve your skills through exercises, drills and organized games. This program is for those who are new to skating. It's a free registered program. Space is limited. For more information or to sign up e-mail, or call 416 392-0913. Ask for Dan.

Skating games instead of Skating Lessons: There are no skating classes at Dufferin Rink this year. Instead, Dufferin rink staff offer (free) organized “beginner skater” games on Saturday mornings. As well, on two early weekday evenings and on Sundays, rink attendants will be available on the ice to give help to kids and adults who are practicing their skating. There is no charge for this help – that’s what rink staff are there for. As always, learners can borrow chairs for support, and very little kids can have help from their parents, even if the parents are wearing shoes.

Youth “One-Off” Shinny Program, Saturday Night, 9 -11 pm. Local youth: get together a group of 12 or more and play shinny on the hockey pad. 9:00pm - 11:00pm. Contact Mayssan or Sarah at for more information. Free registered program, $50 deposit required - once you play, you get it back.

Shinny hockey and injuries
Shinny hockey is a different game than full-equipment, full-contact hockey. In shinny hockey there is no checking, and no slapshots. It appears that there have never been any shinny hockey injury claims against the City. The few rink-related claims have been for full-equipment hockey. Ice is slippery, for sure, and hospital emergency rooms get lots of people with fall-related broken bones. Most of those breaks are not from rinks, though – they’re from ice on sidewalks.


For the second year, city plows have made a long, wide snow path through the park from north to south, connecting both dead ends of Gladstone. This year they also plowed the rink user path that allows skaters to get to the rink along the pleasure-skating pad, from the east. A great improvement to skaters having to pick their way through snowdrifts to get to the rink. Many rink users have expressed their appreciation.

Playground update

CELOS has produced its first playground bulletin, available at the park or online on the website, in the “playground” section. It compares the work ordered by the city inspectors and their CSA reports, with the actual work done. The web site has a great deal of other material posted on its playground section, including some very engaging adventure playground descriptions and pictures. CELOS has a mountain of additional material, not yet posted, but the story is coming together.

City Councillor Adam Giambrone says he had hoped to have a community meeting about the future plans for the Dufferin Grove playground, before the end of 2008, but then it got too close to Christmas. The meeting will now be sometime in January, at St.Mary’s High School. It should be lively.

Wading pool update

The first stage of the renovation project was completed on December 4. The work took place on 2 days in September, 8 days in October, 3 days in November and 2 days in December. The workers were nice people, who must be quite busy elsewhere as well. The new paving around the pool seems to be done, with a long semi-circular stone bench and a chess table. The plumbing upgrades seem to be mostly done, with much-improved lighter aluminum covers for the water control pit. Now no one can lose their fingers (or worse) to a heavy pit cover falling on them. There’s a new drinking fountain. And the new asphalt paths have made going through the park a lot easier. Sadly, there are deep mud ruts along one side of the path already, where the park vehicles drive to pick up trash.

Altogether, the project took just over thirteen weeks from the scheduled start date (i.e. Sept. 2, right after the wading pool closed for the season) to get to the end of the first stage. None of the down times were due to bad weather. If the construction start date had been last May 1, as was originally planned, the wading pool would have stayed closed until August. Bravo to City Councillor Adam Giambrone for agreeing to change the construction schedule!


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

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.


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.

Business of the month – Multiple Organics, at 1545 Dundas Street West.

Three or four times a year, this newsletter reports on a local business that’s an asset to the neighbourhood. We’ve featured all sorts of businesses, from auto repair shops to shoe stores. In keeping with this newsletter’s “local” theme, this month’s pick is a grocery store: Multiple Organics, west of Dufferin at Sheridan. They have local produce (impressively fresh), bottled milk, Red Fife and other Ontario-grown flours, Monteforte cheese, Raani samosas and naan pockets, beans by the “Bean ladies” all local producers. The owners are Carriane Leung and Nupur Gogia. They write on their website ( “We are located in an area that has come to be known as Brockton Village. This area is very special, rich in many layers of history. On the Dundas "strip", you will find new-ish businesses like Lula Lounge, Pho Phuong, West Side Stories, She Takes the Cake, Beadle beside various Portuguese sports bars and barber shops. It is a vibrant, dynamic and humble little corner of Toronto and we are so proud to be here.” -- Nice!


From market manager Anne Freeman: “Now that December is here it's also time to mention that our schedule will not be the usual this month. Since Christmas and New Year's fall on Thursdays (for the first time in our history), we've decided to hold a special TUESDAY market on December 23rd, so everyone can fill their pantries for a long holiday. After that we won't be back until January 8th, so mark this date in your calendar.” That’s the farmers’ market fundraiser calendar, of course (see page 1).


Newsletter prepared by: Jutta Mason

Illustrations: Jane LowBeer

Published by: CELOS

Web site: Henrik Bechmann, Aseel Al Najim

Park phone: 416 392-0913

Park web site:


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