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Toronto Through My Lens

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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

Cherry Blossoms

You know it’s springtime in Toronto when the cherry blossoms suddenly pop out for their all-too-brief stay.

In Japan, flower viewing is an age-old tradition called hanami. Called sakura in Japan, the cherry blossom trees bloom in Toronto at the end of April to early May. When they bloom the trees look quite stunning, displaying their delicate, fluffy, pink and white flowers.

The first Japanese cherry tree was planted here in 1959; it was a present from the citizens of Tokyo. In High Park, 34 cherry trees were received from the Sakura project. Other cherry trees were also donated to other locations around the city, including Exhibition Place, York University and U of T.

I wasn’t up this year for the full-on urban battle that is High Park cherry blossom viewing, so I opted for a couple of alternate locations which offered a calmer, quieter experience:

103 Maitland Street

Robarts Library, University of Toronto

Trinity College, University of Toronto

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:


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.


These cast bronze figures, located in the driveway of the Park Hyatt Toronto hotel at 4 Avenue Road, are entitled Mixer. The work is created by sculptor An Te Liu, a Taiwanese-Canadian artist living and working in Toronto.

Mixer envisions its installation as a stage inhabited by a pair of cast bronze figures engaged in dialogue with passersby, hotel visitors, and each other. Bold and distinctive in silhouette and richly finished in a lustrous deep gold patina, the sculptural ensemble forms a vivid and iconic tableau establishing the Park Hyatt as a singular destination.

As a public artwork, Mixer is monumental in scale – visible from afar and instantly recognizable. Open and intimate, the work invites visitors to experience the artwork fully and in the round. People become a critical part of the scenography, which unfolds within the architectural proscenium and extends out into the city.

Mixer finds shape and expression in the rich history of Park Hyatt Toronto, merging classical figurative allusions with industrial, artisanal, and organic forms culled from glassware, vessels, and couture. The forms also stem from a reinterpretation of the artistic legacy of Henry Moore, a seminal figure in the history of the modern era in Toronto.

Mixer captures the allure of social encounters and celebrates imbibing in all the senses. They form a continuity between the illustrious past of Park Hyatt Toronto and its present renaissance as an exemplar of elegance and luxury. An Te Liu’s inspiration for this work comes more specifically from an archival photograph of the Park Hyatt Rooftop Lounge, commonly known as “The Rooftop bar at Park Plaza,” years ago. An Te Liu would visit during his years as a student at the University of Toronto – understanding its social significance as a landmark in the city.

Park Hyatt Toronto invites visitors to experience the artwork in the round, as this ensemble of works seems like an encounter or conversation. The hotel program inspired this meaningful concept as a place of social convergence, where friends and strangers cross paths and mingle.

Text source: Park Hyatt Toronto website

Night Walk On Yonge Street

Photo Project

Using a filter and utilizing some moody street lighting, my intent was to emulate – if possible – those wonderful, grainy old 1940s/50s night images of a large urban centre in the wee hours.

I captured these images a few weeks ago when walking in the Yonge-Dundas area:

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