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January 2007

posted December 30, 2006

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Friends of Dufferin Grove Park Newsletter

Skating photo © Laura Berman

Volume 8 Number 1, January 2007



Park Events

posted December 30, 2006

A Medieval Celebration: Twelfth Night

Friday January 5, at 5.45pm

Twelfth Night is orthodox Christmas Eve all over the world, but it’s also an old festival of foolishness and fun which began in the fifth century. At Dufferin Grove Park this year it will involve a Lord of Misrule, a King and Queen of the Bean, a wassail song around an apple tree near the park fire circle (or a newly-planted tree decorated with apples), twelve small straw fires, a mummers’ play, and a campfire pot of hot cider with cooked apples and cream floating in it (“sheep’s wool”). The idea is to celebrate the gradual returning of the light and the earth’s fertility.

David Anderson’s Clay and Paper Theatre will present THE RETURN OF THE GREEN MAN, as the mummer’s play, with giant puppets. There’s a call for more volunteer mummers. David writes: “The show can be performed with as few as 8 actors, but benefits tremendously from having as many as 20 (or more!) performers. We need you. Please call 416 537-9105 or talk to the park staff. Volunteer now! There will be ONE rehearsal only, the night before in the gymnasium of the Wallace Emerson Community Centre. We have the rehearsal space booked for 2 short hours, from 8:30pm to 10:30 pm on Thursday January 4th.”


David Anderson
Artistic Director
Clay and Paper Theatre
163 Concord Ave.
Toronto, Ontario
M6H 2P2



Ted Carlisle

posted December 30, 2006

DJ on ice, with DJ Ted Carlisle

Sunday January 7, 2 - 4.30 pm

Park staff Ted is also a DJ, with a wonderful collection of music to please all ages. There will be some mats on the ice near the DJ, for little non-skaters who want to dance too (with Eroca Nicols, park dance teacher). But the most fun is on skates.

We stole this idea from Harbourfront Rink, where they have a DJ on most Friday evenings – and that’s another wonderful place to skate.

posted December 30, 2006

The 2nd Annual The Women of Winter Outdoor Shinny Tournament.

January 12th (Friday) and 13th (Saturday)

From women’s hockey organizer Deirdre Norman:

“Over forty-eight women shinny players of all ages and levels of play will celebrate Hockey Day in Canada by taking to the ice at Dufferin Grove Rink. This is Toronto's only outdoor, recreational shinny tournament for women. Organised by volunteers and supported by Parks, Forestry, and Recreation, The Women of Winter celebrates the thrill of playing the game we love in our own community. Last year’s tournament ended with an action packed overtime final – the puck bouncing both ways, spectators hollering, and snow falling. Don’t miss the excitement this year. New for 2007: a mom-daughter game and opportunities for players to sharpen their skills.”

To find out more, go to

Please note: there is no open shinny hockey on Friday or Saturday because of the tournament. Open shinny is available at three other nearby outdoor rinks:Campbell, Wallace, and Christie See City Rinks Web site for details about other rinks.

Neighbourhood Events

posted December 30, 2006

Wallace Rink: OPENING CELEBRATION, DJ on ice

Sunday January 14, 2 to 5 pm

The rink beside Wallace-Emerson Community Centre has been completely rebuilt, at a cost of over $1 million. The reason for rebuilding was to install a different kind of cooling system, which would use less ammonia (regarded as an explosion hazard). Since the rink was being rebuilt anyway, Councillor Adam Giambrone arranged for some improvements: a more interesting pleasure-skating rink (oval) and a less dingy change room. The shape of the new hockey rink is also easier for the zamboni to clean.

That’s the good news. The bad news is (1) the project went so slowly that the rink remained closed for most of the Christmas school holidays; (2) the designer forgot drainage holes and also made it more troublesome for the zamboni operators to fill their water tank; (3) there’s still no garage to house a zamboni (Wallace is the only double rink without its own); and (4) the stairs that were added last year to connect the rink with the rest of the park, and the parking lot, have gone missing.

It seems that the City’s project supervisor (who changed halfway through) was unavailable to collaborate with the City’s rink maintenance staff at all. Later in January, rink friends from this area will submit a City Outdoor Rinks Report to City Council’s Parks Committee, recommending some changes in how such projects get done in future.

But for now: it’s time to have an opening party. On Sunday January 14 there will be DJ music for skaters, a campfire with food, and a ribbon-cutting by Councillor Adam Giambrone. This is a collaboration between the three rink staffs. There’s plenty to admire, in the airy new rink change-room, and the pleasure-skating rink in the round, and the music will be fine. Come and have a skate at a rink that’s not crowded!

posted December 30, 2006

Campbell Rink DJ Dance on ice, with DJ Ted Carlisle

Friday January 19, 7 to 9 pm

Campbell Rink is on Campbell Avenue just a block west of Lansdowne, two blocks south of Dupont. Many soccer parents know the park from the summer. This year, Dufferin Rink staff are working at Campbell Rink on Fridays, running a twice-monthly kids’ hockey program. On January 19 they’ll make a barrel fire too, and there will be free hot dogs and marshmallows and great skating music.

posted December 30, 2006

Local Theatre “And what ALICE found there”

January 23 to February 4, The Great Hall Downstairs Theatre (Queen & Dovercourt), 8 pm (Sunday matinee at 2.30pm)

Many of the park on-site staff are at the park part-time, and do other things the rest of the time. They dance, or do research, or do union work, or grow food. And some of them do theatre. “And what Alice found there” is a new play about Alice in Wonderland, involving singing, dancing, video art, and puppetry. The park staff who are part of this Stranger Theatre Company (website) performance are: Lea Ambros, Sarah Cormier, and Christina Serra. Some tickets are available at the zamboni snack bar.

Park News

posted posted December 30, 2006


Pleasure skating

Monday and Friday: 10 am to 9 pm (one side)
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday: 9 am to 9 pm (one side)
Sunday: 9 am to 4.45 pm (both sides), 5 pm to 9 pm (one side)
Please take note: on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 5 to 7.45 pm, the learn-to-skate program takes part of the pleasure-skating side (about one quarter), also on Friday from 4 pm to 6.45 and Saturday 9.30 am to 1.30 pm.

Shinny hockey schedule

Monday - Friday:

  • 9:00am - 3:15pm all ages (New: on Monday and Friday the rink doesn’t open until 10am, for extra ice maintenance)
  • 3:30pm - 5:30pm Level 2 (about 13 to 17, medium pace)
  • 5:30pm - 6:30pm Level 1 (12 and under and parent or caregiver, or novice adult)
  • 6:45pm - 7:45pm all ages
  • 7:45pm - 8:55pm Level 3 (usually 18 and over, fast-paced)

Monday 9p.m: Seasonal permit (plus pond hockey on the pleasure-skating side)
Tuesday 9 - 11 pm: Women’s open shinny (plus pond hockey on the other side)
Wednesday 9-10: Seasonal permit. 10-11: “beginners only”drop-in shinny hockey (plus pond hockey on the pleasure-skating side)
Thursday 9 pm: Seasonal permit (plus pond hockey on the pleasure-skating side)
Friday 9 pm: Seasonal permit (plus pond hockey on the pleasure-skating side)


  • 9:00am - 12:00pm all ages
  • 12:00pm - 1:30pm Level 1 (12 and under and parent or caregiver, or novice adult)
  • 1:45pm - 3:45pm all ages
  • 3:45pm - 5:15pm Level 2 (about 13 to 17, medium pace)
  • 5:30pm - 7:00pm all ages
  • 7:00pm - 8:55pm Level 3 (usually 18 and over, fast paced)
  • 9 pm: single-occasion permit (open shinny on pleasure-skating side)


  • 10:00am - 5:00pm No shinny hockey. Pleasure skating both sides.
  • 5-6.30 pm: parent/child shinny permit
  • 6.30-8 p.m. Seasonal permit
  • 8-9.30 pm. Seasonal permit, pond hockey on the other side from 9 pm
  • 9.30-11: youth shinny league (plus pond hockey on the pleasure-skating side)

posted December 30, 2006

Novice adult shinny hockey practice

Wednesday nights from 10 to 11 p.m

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, Wednesday nights from 10 to 11 p.m. 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. For more information, call the park at 416 392-0913. Ask for Dan Watson.

posted December 30, 2006

Youth ice-games experiment

Kids of a certain age want to play British bulldog and ice tag, more than they want to breathe. The rink has a posted rule against those youthful, thrilling, obnoxious games, and the rink staff spend lots of energy taking kids off the ice for breaking the rule.

A few parents have suggested that maybe kids should be allowed to play exciting ice games for ten minutes, on the hour, so that skaters wanting a relaxing skate will know they can come at ten minutes after the hour and enjoy the next 50 minutes.

December was too busy at the rink to try this, but when things calm down in January, there will be an extra rink monitor posted. Sharp at 7 p.m. and again at 8 pm, on week nights only, there will be ten minutes of kids’ ice games. Staff will still supervise, but with a lighter hand. Feedback from other rink users is encouraged.

temporary stairs to rink

posted December 30, 2006


When people come to Dufferin Rink from the west, the access from the sidewalk up to the front door of the rink clubhouse is an uphill grade with no stairs, so smooth that people lose their footing as soon as there’s any freezing or snow. For some years, rink friends have been asking parks staff to build a little stairway from the sidewalk up to where rink door access path levels out, and this year the Parks manager said yes. But then it didn’t happen after all. So rink friends bought a two-stair riser from Home Depot and installed it as a temporary access until the City builds a permanent stairway.

However on Friday Dec.22, rink users arrived to find the stairs gone and the area surrounded by an orange danger fence, with danger tape for good measure. After some inquiry, the removal was traced to the Parks manager: "I arranged for appropriate City staff to inspect the stairs you installed and they are deemed unsafe, a trip hazard, and do not comply with code. Code and legal liability issues lie with City staff to ensure the park is safe and MUST be followed."

second destruction by the City

Within a few hours, there were seven pages of rink user signatures on a petition to City Councillor Adam Giambrone, asking the City to install the kind of stairs they like better, NOW, not next year or the year after. So many rink users have had a fall or a scare on the existing slippery access paths, everyone wanted to sign.

But by then all the parks staff – the Parks supervisor, the Parks manager, and her bosses all the way up the line – were on holidays. So a meeting is scheduled for Jan.2, to find out what code was being violated, and how the city carpenters can make a temporary stair for this winter, that will keep rink users from falling. Watch the orange danger fence (now doing double duty as a bulletin board) for an update.

posted December 30, 2006


At night-time after the rink is closed, people eager to play hockey often climb over the fence and play by the light of the “morality lamps” on the side of the building. For two years, the staff left the gate to the pleasure-skating side unlocked at night, so that people could skate (more quietly) on that rink, with less boards to bang a puck off. But the noise of the big groups that came to the rink, sometimes at 3 or 4 in the morning, drove the neighbours crazy. So the staff now lock the rink every night at 11 pm.

But hockey is so popular that people often climb over the fence anyway, late at night. Sometimes the staff notice a car waiting, so they stick around doing extra work, trying to outlast the hockey invaders. The staff also tell the young people about outdoor rinks that are unfenced and not in built-up areas – City Hall, Ryerson, College Park, Rennie, Wallace.

But still the hockey players climb the fence at Dufferin Rink. That’s because Dufferin Rink has more light (those morality lights), and so it’s easier to see the puck. Last year, Jutta Mason tried to get the City to let the on-site staff turn off those lights at night-time, to make the rink less of a draw. But City management said, “liability,” and refused.

Since other rinks don’t have such bright lights, it’s unlikely that there would be a liability issue only at this rink. So rink neighbours who are bothered by the noise should call the City to see if they’ll get a better response than Jutta did. Here are the numbers to call: Ward 18 Councillor Adam Giambrone, 416 392-7012. You can also try the Area Recreation supervisor, Tino DeCastro, at 416 392-0041. (But when he tried to get the morality lights turned off last rink season, he was also unsuccessful.) City Rinks manager Kevin Bowser is at 416-394-2486, although he rarely returns calls. Or you can call his boss, Brenda Librecz, General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation, at 416 392-8207. You can try the community response police, at 416 808-1400, although they don’t usually come to such nuisance calls.

If you’re really stuck and it sounds so bad out there that you can’t sleep, call park lead staff Mayssan Shuja at 416 709-0573. She’ll come even in the middle of the night, and talk to the invaders. That is the park staff emergency number, if something needs a remedy fast. The main thing to remember is to follow up by calling the other management numbers above – keep calling until there’s help, from the people paid to keep things in good order.

posted December 30, 2006


The Toronto Star, on January 3 1958, editorialized: “It is true that the parks department operates 58 natural ice rinks for skating and 23 for hockey - or will do so, if and when there is enough frost. For all the freezing weather we get here most winters, the department might as well spare the trouble and expense, and get on with the job of multiplying the number of artificial ice rinks." Did they have global warming then already?

posted December 30, 2006


During December, these were the main injuries: (1) a shinny player got slashed on the forehead with a stick, after he was repeatedly warned to stop slashing other people’s shins. (2) A little girl got a bad nosebleed when she was leaning against the chain link fence watching hockey, and a puck flew up and hit the chain link. (3) A 9-year-old boy was hit in the nose by a learn-to-skate frame, and it broke his nose. In that case, his family would have had economic hardship because the father had to miss work to take his son to the hospital for an x-ray and follow-up, so the park paid the lost wages (with cookie money from the snack bar, a wonderful resource). The boy’s nose is healing straight. And finally, (4) two players collided during women’s shinny time. One of them got a cut to the forehead because she hit her forehead on the other player’s hard helmet.

For those rink users who have said that shinny and soccer are played without helmets, in contrast to hockey and football, which are played with full gear: there’s been no response from the Parks management to informal requests for documentation of the decision to make helmets mandatory for shinny (pond hockey). Time for a formal request


posted December 30, 2006


Almost fifty years ago, on January 3 1958, the Toronto Star ran an editorial called: "If Sardines Skated They'd Choose Toronto." It said: "Skating is not much fun when people have to wait in line outside for half an hour or more, and then go on an intolerably crowded ice surface..."

There’s no waiting in line outside Dufferin Rink yet, but for the first time this December, the rink staff considered it. Why was the rink so crowded?

There are several reasons: first, two other double-pad rinks nearby, Wallace and Harry Gairey Rinks, were recently rebuilt. Although there are 8 months to do construction when the rinks are not running, the work didn’t begin until fall. Then there was a lack of inter-departmental collaboration, compounded by absent City managerial staff during holidays. So the two rinks were unfinished, and stayed closed, long after the beginning of the three-month rink season. They were closed right through most – or all – of the school holidays. There were many days when no construction took place. The buck didn’t stop anywhere. So more skaters came to Dufferin Rink.

The second reason why so many people come here is that although there are 49 other compressor-cooled outdoor rinks in Toronto, many of them are not that enjoyable. The simple things that make Dufferin Rink pleasant – reliable ice maintenance, cheap, wholesome food, lots of places to sit, the fire in the wood stove, and kids’ books to read there; capable, knowledgeable staff who work together with rink users – are in short supply at many other city rinks. So people come to Dufferin Rink from all over the city, and eventually the rink gets too crowded.

There are several remedies for the crowding. One is for rink users to let City management know that they have to do better when carrying out building projects. Our park researchers will write a report for the City Councillors on the Parks Committee, describing what went wrong at Wallace and Harry Gairey Rinks, and we’ll follow up to see what the councillors do in response.

The second thing is to keep trying to “take the show on the road.” Dufferin Rink staff sometimes go to other rinks when they’re not working here, talking to rink staff, giving them our new rink handbook, offering to collaborate. This is a dicey thing to do, since the Parks department is run enough like the military to raise issues of insubordination, if a lower-rank staff objects to the way a rink is run. So giving the other rinks a boost won’t work unless rink users at those rinks also get involved.

Back in the 1950s, when the Star wrote its “sardines on skates” editorial, a much-loved commissioner of Parks named Tommy Thompson got his staff to put up signs in all the parks: “Please walk on the grass.” The right sign to make the outdoor rinks better would be “Please talk to staff when you don’t like something.” Canadians famously don’t like to complain, but the City staff (see the contact list in “Night-time noise at the rink”) , and City Councillors, need to hear – from lots of people – how their rinks could be better. The compressor-cooled rinks that the city built over the years work very well in the warmer winters we’re having. They deserve to be better run, so that people can enjoy the rink in their own neighbourhood, and not be forced to travel far to this one.


crowded rink

crowds outside

posted December 30, 2006


Friday Night Suppers have resumed (6 to 7.30 p.m. on Fridays at the rink house, $6 for the main plate, between $2-$3 each for soup, salad, dessert, no reservations necessary). Also, seven days a week, the “Zamboni Café” snack bar will be serving substantial winter soups, farmers’ market perogies, park oven bread, organic hot dogs, mini-pizzas, and various sweets including park cookies. On weekends there’s more.

The price list at the Zamboni café reflects how much money is needed to pay for the materials that went into the food, plus a bit extra for other park uses, which counts as your park donation. But if your grocery money is tight, and you and your kids are hungry after skating, even the cheap snack bar food may be too much for your wallet.

If you’re hungry, but you can’t pay as much for the snack bar food, pay less. Park staff also like to do trades – if you can do something for the park (help shovel after a snowstorm, wash dishes, sort tools in the tool cupboard, break up wooden skids for the bread ovens) the park staff will tell you that your money won’t work at the snack bar, and you have to eat for free. That goes for kids too.

On the other hand, if you find the food very cheap and good and think it should cost more, pay more. Every penny goes to the park.

posted December 30, 2006


The year-round organic farmers’ market is a squash for skaters, but rink staff put a lot of extra benches out by the rink for skate changing, and there’s a campfire to get warm by. Market customers, please be considerate of skaters – it’s an odd mix of rink uses.


Newsletter prepared by: Jutta Mason

Illustrations: Jane LowBeer

Web Site: Henrik Bechmann

Technical Editor: Corey Chivers

Park photographer: Wallie Seto

Park phone: 416 392-0913

Web address:


Dog walker liaison: Judy Simutis

Winter park staff: Lea Ambrose, Anna Bekerman, Ted Carlisle, Corey Chivers, Jenny Cook, Sarah Cormier, Claire Freeman-Fawcett, Anna Galati, Sandy Gribbin, Zio Hersch, Mario Lourenço, Eroca Nicols, Christina Serra, Mayssan Shuja, Mary Sylwester, Dan Watson, Amy Withers..

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