Trinity Bellwoods Park

Trinity Bellwoods Park is located on the west side of downtown Toronto, Ontario Canada, bordered by Queen Street West on the south and Dundas Street on the north. The western boundary of the park is Crawford Street, running north to within a short block of Dundas, where the park extends further west several hundred feet past the Crawford Street Bridge to Shaw Street. Most of the park's area lies in the original Garrison Creek ravine and this creek, now a buried city storm sewer, still flows beneath the park from the northwest to the southeast corners.

History

The old Garrison Creek emptied into Lake Ontario at the site of Fort York, and the land north and west of the fort was set aside as a military reserve. As the town of York grew around the fort, the military reserve was gradually sold off in lots to retiring British officers and friends of the military command. British Army Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Smith is said to have bought 1000 acres (4 km²) of land here in 1801, which he called Gore Vale after Lieutenant-Governor Francis Gore; the Vale in the name referring to Garrison Creek ravine.

Much of the current park land was originally purchased from a Mrs. Cameron of Gore Vale in 1851 by Scottish-Canadian Bishop John Strachan, an influential Anglican deacon who wanted Toronto to have a private school with strong Anglican ties, partly in opposition to the recently secularized University of Toronto. Buildings were soon constructed and students began attending Trinity College in 1852. After federation with the University of Toronto in 1904 and completion of the downtown Trinity campus in 1925, the school left this location. The original buildings were then sold to the City of Toronto and most were demolished in the early 1950s. Of the college itself, only the stone and iron gates now remain, at the Queen Street park entrance facing south on Strachan Avenue, although the former St. Hilda's College building, (the women's residence of Trinity College) still overlooks the northern half of the park on the western edge. It is now a seniors' residence, John Gibson House.

In the 1950s Garrison Creek was entirely buried and the creek ravine backfilled around the Crawford Street Bridge, raising the surface of the northern end of the park to almost the height of Dundas Street. The steep drop from this upper level to the lower part of the park has become a popular local toboggan run in winter. Picnic tables and small barbecues are also provided here for summertime use, and public washroom facilities.

In 2001, the [http://www.trinitybellwoods.org/ Friends of Trinity Bellwoods Park] was formed to co-ordinate volunteer activities and provide input to the city on park management.

Features

The park has a community fitness and sports centre with an indoor pool, located at 151 Crawford near Queen Street. Adjacent to the community center is a volleyball court and large playground. There are lighted open air summer tennis courts in summer and an outdoor ice skating rink in winter on the northern east boundary. The main park area has field space for soccer, football and rugby, and three softball fields along the east boundary.

Trinity Bellwoods is a favourite place for local residents to walk their pets. The ravine, known as the dog bowl, is the designated leash-free area and was used in the film Dog Park. In all other areas of the park, owners are required by the city to leash their pets at all times.

Toronto Parks and Recreation maintain a marked Discovery Walk and cycling trail above and parallel to Garrison Creek, which runs through the park from the southeast to the northwest corner.

The park is also home of white squirrels the subject of urban folklore in the city. The Toronto Special newsmagazine featured White Squirrel hunts in a past issue.

The diverse variety of native and imported trees planted throughout the park, in various stages of growth from young to mature, provide a brilliant display of fall colour against the deep green grass. In winter the night view of the Toronto skyline rising above the ravine is extraordinarily beautiful, especially looking east from the Discovery Walk pathway near the western boundary. Tall black Victorian-style iron lamp poles along the main paths provide safe but soft illumination and a charming touch of character.

Events

Trinity Bellwoods has been the site of many recent cultural events, including an anarchist bookfair, live theatre, performance art, and informal summer drumming circles. The recent explosion of art galleries a few blocks west of the park on Queen Street will likely only encourage this welcome trend.

In June 2007 a weekly farmers market opened in the northwest corner of the park, at Shaw and Dundas. The market runs from 3 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday from June to October, rain or shine.

The largest annual cultural event in the park is Portugal Day, organized by the local residents and businesses of Portugal Village and the Portuguese community of Toronto. In the northwest corner of the park there is a small reminder of the diverse Latin American character of other nearby neighbourhoods: a bust of Simón Bolívar which was donated to the city.

The alleys and laneways which surround Trinity Bellwoods park have become an impromptu art gallery open to the public for one weekend in August for the past four years: [http://www.alleyjaunt.com Alley Jaunt] .

The park is the site for an annual art sale in September as part of the [http://www.torontoartscape.on.ca/qwac/ Queen West Art Crawl] .

The 2nd Annual "Zombie Walk" - Sunday, October 21, 2007. A great way to kick (drag) off the Hallowe'en season. The walk will start at the South end of the park at 3:30pm and will finish in the area of the Bloor Cinema at approximately 5pm.

And it is also home to section 3 of the Nuit Blanche art festival.

References in culture

* Treble Charger wrote a song called Trinity Bellwoods, which was on their debut album NC17.
* The 1998 film Dog Park was shot there.

External links

* [http://www.trinitybellwoods.ca Friends of Trinity Bellwoods Park]
* [http://www.rbebout.com/queen/libtrin/2pcreek.htm Landscapes Lost and Found]
* [http://spacing.ca/hidden-gems03.htm Spacing Magazine article, hidden gems: Crawford & Harbord bridges by Sarah Meehan]


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