Toronto Through My Lens

Category: Parks (Page 1 of 3)

Budapest Park

In my previous post on Beaty Boulevard Parkette I mentioned nearby Budapest Park, located at 1575 Lakeshore Boulevard West. Beaty Boulevard Parkette is located at the busy junction of Queen Street West, King Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue. From the Parkette, you can cross the Pedestrian Bridge spanning the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard West, and wind up in Budapest Park.

Budapest Park was created in remembrance of the fallen freedom fighters of Hungary who fought against the rule of the then-Soviet Union. The Park is located on the shore of Lake Ontario, to the east of Sunnyside and the Gus Ryder Pool. Facilities at Budapest Park include beach access, bike trails, drinking fountains, field houses, outdoor fitness equipment, a playground and splash pad, a parking lot and washroom facilities.

It was early spring when I visited, so the greenery was just in the very early stages of popping out.

Crossing the Gardiner Expressway

Looking west from the Pedestrian Bridge spanning the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard West

Reaching the Lakeside

The Pedestrian Bridge on the south side of The Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard West
The Palais Royale
After crossing the Pedestrian Bridge one of the first buildings encountered is The Palais Royale at 1601 Lakeshore Blvd. West. The Palais Royale is a dance hall from a bygone era. Originally built as a boat works, it became notable as a night club in the now-defunct Sunnyside Amusement Park, hosting many prominent Big Band jazz bands. Since the Park’s demolition, the building has ceased to be a nightclub, and is now used for special occasions, weddings, meetings and concerts.

Springtime in Budapest Park

Entering Budapest Park
Monument in Budapest Park: “The Crossing of Lake Ontario by Marilyn Bell”
On the evening of September 9, 1954, 16-year-old marathon swimmer Marilyn Bell became the first person to swim across Lake Ontario. Racing unofficially against the heavily favoured American swimmer Florence Chadwick, Bell endured eels, high winds, and frigid waters for almost 21 hours to complete her world-record-breaking 51.5-kilometre swim here. Her courageous achievement won unprecedented attention both at home and abroad for the sport of marathon swimming in Canada. This particular spot in Budapest Park is significant as this is the place where Marilyn Bell climbed ashore to complete her gruelling swim.

Freedom For Hungary Monument

The Freedom for Hungary monument in Budapest Park was designed by Victor Tolgesy and erected in 1966. The monument commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and Freedom Fight of 1956.

This totem poles are the gifts of Andrew and Eva Heinemann in memory of the fallen freedom fighters of the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Soviet rule in Hungary. Erected by the Canadian Rakoczi Foundation on October 23, 2008.

Budapest Park’s Lakeside Boardwalk

Seeking some lakeside vibes, someone slung a hammock between the trees
Looking west

Returning to the north side of The Gardiner

Artwork on the Pedestrian Bridge over The Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard West, leading back to Beaty Boulevard Parkette
Crossing above The Gardiner Expressway, returning to Beaty Boulevard Parkette
Returning to the busy junction of King Street West, Queen Street West, Roncesvalles Avenue and Beaty Boulevard Parkette

Beaty Boulevard Parkette

Beaty Boulevard Parkette is a long, finger-like patch of grassy, manicured land situated near the intersection of Queen Street West, King Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue:

There’s plenty to see and do in this historic neighbourhood; if one crosses the Pedestrian Bridge over busy Lakeshore Boulevard West, you will find the Palais Royale, the Boulevard Club, Budapest Park, Marilyn Bell Park and Sunnyside Beach.

A Bit Of History

Beaty Boulevard Parkette is the former location of the Sunnyside Railway Station, located at this King/Queen/Roncesvalles intersection. The Sunnyside Railway Station operated passenger service from 1910 until 1971.

The Sunnyside Station in 1915 (City of Toronto Archives)

The station was built by the Grand Trunk Railway in 1910 and was well-placed, with access to nearby streetcars and the Sunnyside Amusement Park.

GO Transit began service in May 1967 and took over CN’s Toronto to Hamilton route. While CN’s Hamilton train had stopped at Sunnyside, GO’s Lakeshore West line bypassed the station resulting in a significant drop in its use. CN closed the station in 1971 and its buildings were demolished in 1973.

The Katyń Monument

Beaty Boulevard Parkette is home to the Katyń Monument, which commemorates the 1940 Katyń massacre in Poland:

“In remembrance of fifteen thousand Polish prisoners of war who vanished in 1940 from the camps in USSR at Kozelsk, Ostashkov, Starobelsk. Of these over four thousand were later discovered in mass graves at Katyn, near Smolensk, murdered by the Soviet state security police.”

Made of bronze and erected in 1980, the monument was created by artist Tadeusz Janowski. The monument’s location here is quite appropriate in this, a largely Eastern European, neighbourhood.

“In remembrance of fifteen thousand Polish prisoners of war who vanished in 1940 from the camps in USSR at Kozelsk, Ostashkov, Starobelsk. Of these over four thousand were later discovered in mass graves at Katyn, near Smolensk, murdered by the Soviet state security police.”

But what was the Katyn massacre you may ask? The Katyn Massacre was a series of mass executions of nearly 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia prisoners of war carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD (“People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs”, the Soviet secret police) in April and May 1940. Though the killings also occurred in the Kalinin and Kharkiv prisons and elsewhere, the massacre is named after the Katyn forest, where some of the mass graves were first discovered by German Nazi forces (Source: Wikipedia).

The Smolensk Tragedy

Also in Beaty Boulevard Parkette is a secondary monument related to the Katyn Massacre. The inscription on the plaque for this memorial reads:

In memory of the 96 person Polish delegation headed by the President of the Republic of Poland Lech Kaczynski, who all died tragically in a plane crash at Smolensk, on April 10, 2010, en route to the official commemoration ceremony of the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Massacre. Without the Katyn Massacre there would have been no Smolensk tragedy.

Canadian Polish Congress, April 10, 2011

Memorial For Perished Polish Soldiers & Civilians

A few feet away from the last two monuments there is a third: this is the Memorial For Perished Polish Soldiers & Civilians:

The plaque on the memorial reads:

1940-2000

In Memoriam… Lest We Forget

May the tragic death of tens of thousands of Polish citizens in Soviet forced labour camps, political prisons and execution sites, always remind the world that freedom is bought with great sacrifice.

Dedicated to the memory of over one million seven hundred thousand Polish soldiers and civilians arrested in eastern Poland by the Soviet Secret Police (NKVD) in 1940-1941, for the only reason that they were Polish citizens and were departed to the far reaches of the Soviet Union (Siberia), where many were executed or died of hunger, cold, disease and exhaustion during World War II.

Alliance of the Polish eastern provinces in Toronto, February 10, 2000

Stay tuned for the second part of this post – a look at Budapest Park, which is on the other side of Lakeshore Boulevard West beside Lake Ontario.

Alexander The Great Parkette

In a beautiful plaza where the avenues of Danforth and Logan intersect lies a statue of Alexander the Great. Built in 1994 by the City of Toronto and largely funded by the Greektown community, the Alexander the Great Parkette is listed on TripAdvisor as a bit of the “local flavour” and personality of the Danforth.

It might seem strange that such a legendary figure, known for his prowess in military command, would be chosen to stand in the peaceful heart of Greektown—but the history of the Greek community in Toronto is not without opposition.

A Bit Of History

Up until 1918, Greek businesses, restaurants, and residences had formed their own neighbourhood on Yonge Street, in the centre of Toronto. It was at one of these restaurants that Claude Cludernay, a crippled Canadian Army veteran, was expelled for drunkenly assaulting a waiter on August 1st. Unbeknownst to any involved at the time, that would be the trigger to Toronto’s largest race riot, and one of the largest anti-Greek riots in the world.

Many Canadian veterans perceived this event as a personal affront from the Greek community, and on August 2, 1918, thousands of veterans gathered in the Greektown area and set about destroying Greek cafes, restaurants, and businesses. The mayor at the time, Tommy Church, was forced to invoke the Riot Act and call in the military police to back up the overwhelmed police forces already involved. However, their presence was reportedly ineffective at best, and negligent at worst. Victims of the destruction criticized the police for standing by and just watching as the veterans continued their rampage.

The following day, the militia and military police cracked down on veterans and bystanders alike. There were an estimated fifty-thousand people involved in the fights, and the aftermath of the riots totalled over one million dollars in damages by today’s values.

The riots were a result of growing resentments against new immigrants, the misconception that the Greeks did not fight in World War I, as well as a suspicion that the Greeks were pro-German. In fact, Greece was a friendly neutral party to the Allied Forces during World War I and was eventually brought to the side of the Allied Forces in 1916. However, their government’s neutrality did prevent many Greeks from fighting in the early years of the war. This, combined with the appearance of many able-bodied Greek men working public-facing jobs, lead to the misguided belief that they were “lazy” or ungrateful for Canada’s war efforts.

Rebuilding

After their businesses and homes were destroyed in the riots, the Greek community moved to Danforth Avenue and built a new Greektown. With this in mind, no better figure than Alexander the Great comes to mind to represent them. Alexander is a figure out of legend and myth. He conquered from India to Egypt and founded around twenty cities that bore his name along the way. He is known for spreading Greek culture, and for his military expertise. All in all, Alexander is a figure who reminds the Greek community of their own fight for inclusion, the dignity of their heritage, and their strength in survival.

Lukumum coffee & pastry shop beside the Parkette

A Night of Tragedy in Greektown

In my photos below candles, flowers, notes and other mementos are scattered around the statue of Alexander The Great. These items are in acknowledgement and remembrance of the Danforth shooting on the night of July 22, 2018. On that awful night, a lone gunman killed two people and wounded thirteen others using a Smith & Wesson M&P .40-calibre handgun. It was a totally random and unprovoked attack on innocent people who were on the sidewalk or on restaurant patios.

Redevelopment

The Alexander The Great Parkette is currently under redevelopment and, as of March 2024, is completely torn up:

Here are a couple of artist’s sketches depicting the finished Parkette:

Looking north
Looking south

Article text & references: On the Danforth website

The Toronto Inukshuk

The Toronto Inukshuk resides in Toronto Inukshuk Park at 789 Lake Shore Boulevard West, west of Coronation Park.

The sculpture is one of the largest of its kind in North America, according to the City of Toronto. It stands 30 feet high and its arms span 15 feet. Made of granite, it
weighs about 50 tonnes. The Inukshuk was unveiled in 2002 to commemorate World Youth Day, when Pope John Paul II visited the city.

The Inukshuk, a sculpture made up of piled stones, is a familiar symbol of the Inuit, mostly found in the Arctic landscape and often used as a navigational tool.

This Inukshuk was designed by Nunavut-born artist Kellypalik Qimirpik.

Former Mayor Mel Lastman spoke at the 2002 unveiling. His speech is engraved on this granite slab next to the Inukshuk. Part of it says:

World Youth Day has been a true navigational guide for millions of young people throughout the world. The Toronto Inukshuk invites each one of us to become beacons of light and hope, striving for justice and peace in this world.

Ice Storm!

All this inclement weather lately has put me in mind of the infamous Toronto ice storm in late December 2013. This happened 11 years ago now, so I guess it qualifies for one of my so-called From The Vaults posts (i.e. Toronto events and photos from several years past).

At the time of the storm I took a little walk around the neighbourhood to see everything more or less encased in ice:

The massive ice storm began on December 19, 2013 and dispersed on December 23, 2013. In addition to hitting Ontario the storm also reached Quebec, Atlantic Canada, Maine, New England, New York, Michigan and even Arkansas. In Toronto, the ice was so heavy it resulted in damaged hydro lines and trees weighing down onto roads and vehicles.

The 2013 ice storm consisted of 40-plus hours of freezing rain and more than 30 millimetres of ice, leaving 416,000 customers without power, 500 wires down and two million trees damaged. During the ice storm, Toronto Hydro said 73,000 metres of service wire and 80,000 pieces of hardware had to be replaced. The storm had a total cost of $200 million.1

The storm killed 27 people, particularly from carbon monoxide poisoning in enclosed and poorly ventilated areas as people attempted to keep warm and cook with gas generators and charcoal stoves.

Streets And Cars Were Shrouded In Ice…

An Icy Allan Gardens

Lots Of Broken Trees…

At the time I remember thinking how weird everything felt; the city had mostly came to a halt throughout the storm. The ice storm of 2013 remains yet another Toronto vignette I will never forget.

1 Stats courtesy of The Weather Network

Love Park

Earlier this year a new park opened in downtown Toronto. Dubbed Love Park, it is located at the southern foot of York Street and Queens Quay (96 Queen’s Quay West, to be exact). The 2-acre park responds to the need for flexible public space in the southern Financial District and Harbourfront neighbourhood.

Talk about making ugly turn beautiful: the former use of this space was the York-Bay-Yonge eastbound off-ramp of the Gardiner Expressway. During 2016-17, the ramp was removed and the space reclaimed for public use.

The project timeline went something like this:

  • June 2020: Design
  • July 2021: Construction starts
  • Spring 2023: Construction complete
  • June 23, 2023: Park opens with ribbon-cutting ceremony and community celebration

Here’s how Love Park looks from above:

Disclaimer: Not my image

Love Park is a deliberate departure from the hard surfaces dominating downtown Toronto, with healthy existing mature trees retained and dozens of new trees being planted. Tree-lined sidewalks outline the entire perimeter and internal pathways of the park site, marking the transition into a calm urban refuge. Rolling elevated grassy mounds provide further buffer from the adjacent roadways and offer space to relax and enjoy the park at different vantage points.

Love Park’s pond was designed and built as a natural pond, which mimics a wetland and uses a natural water filtration system, not chlorine. Foggy pond water with a green hue can occur for a few weeks while the water system balances its water chemistry. The pond water remains safe and is monitored and maintained as required. The changing water hue and clarity can be affected by fluctuating water temperatures, rainwater, sun and shade.

Plenty of little critters around the park…

If you’d like to learn more about the creation of Love Park, click here to go to the architect’s website, Claude Cormier & Associés.

Milkman’s Lane

This post is sort of a companion piece to my last post on Craigleigh Gardens. The quiet and scenic urban trail known as Milkman’s Lane is located off South Drive in Rosedale, next to Craigleigh Gardens.

Though short and steep, the trail connects with the Beltline Trail which leads to the nearby Evergreen Brick Works, Moore Park Ravine and the Lower Don trail system.

Seen on historic maps since at least 1890, the abandoned roadway is 130 years old. It’s been said the pathway was originally intended for mostly commercial transport including, presumably, deliveries of milk.

It’s now a beautiful dirt pathway bordered in by wooden fences and plunging hills on either side as you’re led further into the ravine system. It’s primarily frequented by cyclists, hikers and dog walkers.

The lush vegetation includes black cherry, hemlock, yellow birch, ironwood, the endangered butternut, oak and maple trees.

If you keep following the Park Road Reservation Trail west at the bottom of the ravine, you’ll be offered up pretty views of Yellow Creek as it flows by.

Reference: BlogTO

Craigleigh Gardens

Craigleigh Gardens is a quiet 3.4 hectare park near Castle Frank Road and Bloor Street East. The park features an entrance with ornamental gates, a mature tree canopy and a dog off-leash area. The secluded gem of a park is tucked away in the middle of Rosedale, one of Canada’s wealthiest neighbourhoods and is surrounded by beautiful Victorian-style homes.

Craigleigh Gardens used to be the site of the 25-room estate of Sir Edmund Osler, a wealthy businessman, founder of the Royal Ontario Museum, and trustee at the Hospital For Sick Children. Osler lived at Craigleigh for nearly 50 years until he died. The house was torn down in 1924 following his death and his family donated the 13 acres of manicured grounds to the city to build the park.

The ornate gates have the date 1903 in the metalwork on either side of the centre, which means they stood in front of the Osler estate at one time.

These gardens are presented to the people of Toronto as a memorial of Edmund Boyd Osler, and Ann Farquharson, his wife, by their children . A.D. 1926. Here, amidst his children and grandchildren, his flowers, trees and birds, Edmund Boyd Osler made his home from 1877 to the date of his death in 1924 A.D.

from Plaque on gate

Victoria Memorial Square

At 10 Niagara Street, on the corner of Portland Street and Niagara, sits Victoria Memorial Square:

Victoria Memorial Square is a park and former cemetery. It was established in 1793 as the burial place for those affiliated with the nearby Toronto Garrison (Fort York). It was the first cemetery to be used by European settlers in what would become the city of Toronto. Originally known as St. John’s Square, the park today is part of Fort York National Historic Site.

The Old Soldier
War of 1812 Memorial

This monument in the Square is entitled The Old Soldier, and was erected by the British Army and Navy Veterans’ Association. It was erected to honour the dead of the War of 1812, on this site of an old burial ground used between 1794 and 1863 for soldiers and their families from nearby Fort York. 

The memorial was designed and constructed by Walter Seymour Allward. He designed a bronze half-length figure of an old one-armed soldier in the uniform of 1812 holding his military cap, the George IV medal on his chest and the end of one empty sleeve pinned up.

The memorial’s cornerstone was laid on July 1, 1902. The cornerstone featured a time capsule, including newspapers, coins, and other documents of the day. Veterans of several wars were on hand for the ceremony, including those who had served in the Crimean War, Second Opium War, Indian Rebellion of 1857, Second Anglo-Afghan War, Fenian Raids, North-West Rebellion, and the South African War. The official unveiling was on July 5, 1907, after nearly 20 years of planning and fundraising.

Inscriptions On The Memorial

DEFENCE OF YORK (NOW TORONTO)

IN MEMORY OF OFFICERS, NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS AND MEN WHO WERE KILLED OR DIED OF WOUNDS IN THE FOLLOWING REGIMENTS OR COMPANIES OF REGIMENTS ENGAGED IN THE DEFENCE OF YORK (TORONTO).

APRIL 27TH 1813

ROYAL ARTILLERY
ROYAL NAVAL ARTIFICES
8th REGIMENT (OF FOOT)
ROYAL NEWFOUNDLAND REGIMENT
CLENGARY FENCIBLES MILITIA
INCORPORATED MILITIA
Front Plaque
IN MEMORY OF OFFICERS, NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS AND MEN WHO
WERE KILLED, DIED OF WOUNDS AND DISEASE, IN THE FOLLOWING REGIMENTS OR COMPANIES OF REGIMENTS ENGAGED DURING THE WAR OF 1812-1815 UPON THE WESTERN CANADIAN FRONTIER, WEST OF KINGSTON.

Royal Artillery – Royal Engineers
19th Dracoons 41st Regiment 100th Regiment
1st Regiment 49th Regiment 103rd Regiment
6th Regiment 82nd Regiment 103th Regiment
8th Regiment 89th Regiment
Royal Veteran Rect.
Royal Newfoundland Rect.
Prov. Dracoons Militia
Wattsville Rect. Militia
Canadian Fencibles
Simcoe Militia
Clencary Fencibles Militia
York Rangers Militia
1st Norfolk Militia
Coloured Corps & Indians
Rear Plaque
“Dead in Battle – Dead in the field”
More than his life can a soldier yield?
His blood has burnished his sabre bright
To his memory, honour: To him, good night”

This monument is to perpetuate the memory and deeds of the officers, non-commissioned officers and men who gave their lives in the defence of Canada in the War of 1812-15 and is erected by the British Army and Navy Veterans residing in Toronto. Aided by generous subscriptions from the British Army and Navy, and the citizens of Canada.

July 1st 1902

BATTLE FIELDS

RIVER CANARD
BEAVER DAMS
BLACK ROCK
CHATEAUGUAY
CHRYSLER FARM
DETROIT
FORT NIAGARA
FORT ERIE
YORK
FORT GEORGE
LUNDY’S LANE
THAMES
STONY CREEK
Side Plaque

Surviving Headstones from the Military Burial Ground

The park is Toronto’s oldest cemetery. The downtown site was used as a burial ground for nearly seventy years, from 1794 to 1863. During that time, it saw hundreds of burials, including many soldiers from the War of 1812.

The park was created by Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe shortly after the establishment of the Garrison at York and the founding of the town. Simcoe’s infant daughter, Katherine, was one of the first to be buried at the cemetery which was closed in 1863 when it was deemed to be full.

The cemetery was converted to a park in the 1880s. Its grave sites were levelled, paths were established, and the 17 surviving headstones gathered along the park’s western edge:


Historical Photos

1885 – Military burying grounds, today’s Victoria Memorial Square (Toronto Public Library r-2851)
1913 – Looking northwest from Portland Street. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 52, Item 192.
1950 – City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257

References

Government of Canada, Veterans of Canada site

The Daily Hive

In & Around Portland Street

On my way to photograph Victoria Memorial Square (stay tuned for a future post on that) I passed through the Portland Street and Wellington Street West area. Here’s a bit of what I encountered:

Nice bike!
Adelaide Street West, just east of Bathurst Street
More condos!
Just south of Richmond Street West. Condos are going up all around this site, hence the message on the painting: “The last inhabited house on this street”.

I found this graffiti and artwork in an alley behind Portland Street, south of Richmond Street West. Lots of colour here:


Interesting white flowers
Ruby Soho patio on Portland Street, just south of King Street West
The Happy Sundae
85 Portland Street. Lots of colour and ice cream here. Next time, I’m stopping for a sample!
Mural
On Portland Street south of King Street West

Clarence Square
On the corner of Wellington Street West and Spadina Avenue

Houses on Clarence Square
Charming houses on the Square

Mascot
Outside The Soho Hotel & Residences, 318 Wellington Street West
“Pas de Trois” (1984) by Russell K. Jacques
In front of office tower at 70 University Avenue, corner of Wellington Street West
Jump Restaurant & Bar
18 Wellington Street West. Love the spring!
That’s it for now… thanks for joining me on this little walkabout!
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