Some Park History

History

Another historical photo of Trinity Bellwoods park from the Kiwanis Boys Club photos via park neighbor Gene.  In this circa 1935 photo you can see the beautiful American elm tree that still stands on Crawford just north of lane in the south end of the park.  In the background are the houses on Crawford Street, the Artscape building and the Candy Factory. 

Elm on Crawford circa 1935 B

The tree would be about 30 years old which makes it, today, over 100 years old.  Also of note is that it's a rare, hardy survivor of the Dutch Elm disease plague of the 50s and 60s, unlike many other elms in the park.

4- TBP football SW Crawford

Here's a game of casual football in the park aprox 1925.  They are playing south of the recreation centre that is not built.  Crawford Street is in the background.  The Candy Factory Lofts are in the background.

2- TBP boxing SW sector

Boxing in the park.  We think that the cars in background are parked inside the gates on the paved 'road' bit.

 

Park neighbor Gene Threndyle passes along a link to some Kiwanis Boy's Club Photos from the 20's, 30's and 40's.  The photos are heading to the Toronto Archives where they will go into storage, but here's a chance to look at some of these truly fascinating photos of what Queen West or Trinity Bellwoods was like then.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=440151846060153&set=a.440151792726825.1073741827.406458166096188&type=1&theater

 

Trinity College Kiwinis photo c 1930s B

South end of the park -- you can see what are now the Chocolate Factory and Candy Factory condo buildings in the background.

LIFE SCIENCE

Bird Transit Lounge
Every year, from late August to early October, there is a fantastic gathering of birds at sunset in the trees near the intersection of Lobb and Crawford Street. The birds, possibly Grackles, appear to gather in the trees prior to heading off on their winter migration. Some locals call it the “Bird Transit Lounge”. For a short while, it sounds like the deepest, wildest jungle... a fantastic racket, when suddenly, in complete synchronization, the birds fall silent... and then, all together, they start up their chattering again. In addition to making people nervous by swarming the trees, the birds swirl and swoop through the air like an aerial school of fish.

White Squirrels
For decades at least there has been a line of white squirrels living in Trinity Bellwoods Park, who have some cousins at the close by Queen Street Mental Health Centre. Colonies of these unusual squirrels have popped up in many places around the world, and while not true albinos, they represent some kind of genetic aberration. Sometimes a brown squirrel will arrive with a part-white tail. They give rise to fables and myths, eg that there is only one squirrel (who moves fast and has lived a long life!), or that they are the product of a science experiment that went wrong, or that they are more aggressive or have other unusual characteristics. Most of these seem to be unfounded but clearly they are one of the features that makes our park interesting and unique. There are at least two white squirrels that live in the trees near the diagonal path that crosses the circle. Seen together, they are quite an eye-catching pair.

Trinity Bellwoods Arboretum
Until the 1950’s, Trinity Bellwoods was a designated arboretum. Many of the original, arboretum trees are still standing today. Among the park’s diverse species are sugar maples, a shagbark hickory tree, black locusts, willows, meta-sequoias, oaks and elms. ADDENDUM: According to current Parks Branch Director, Richard Ubbens, the park was never actually a working arboretum although a sign was erected.  Ubbens himself had the sign taken down when he was Director of Parks' Forestry Branch.

Oldest Park Tree
The oldest park tree stands on the west side of the tennis courts, near the diagonal path that leads to and from the corner of Queen and Gore Vale.

Shagbark Hickory Tree
Just north of the bowl, is an aging shagbark hickory tree surrounded by a low, a stone wall. When the Garrison Creek Ravine was filled in with dirt from the Bloor street subway dig in the 1950’s, the wall was installed to protect the tree. The old shagbark hickory is perhaps the last remaining growth from the woodlands that lined the original Garrison Creek Ravine.

 

EARTH SCIENCE

Garrison Creek Ravine
The Trinity Bellwoods “Pit” or “Bowl” is the last remnant of the Garrison Creek Ravine within the park. Originally, the ravine stretched the length of the park, flowing beneath the former Crawford Street Bridge. Now, the bowl is a fantastic place to walk a dog, while glimpsing the CN tower at sunset. The Garrison Creek walking trail extends from the corner of Gore Vale and Queen, north through the ravine to Stanley Park and Christie Pits Park.

 

HISTORIC

Trinity Bellwoods Gates
At the intersection of Queen Street and Strachan, the newly restored Trinity gates have recently been installed. These gates were part of the former Trinity College, originally located just north of Circle and subsequently moved to the University of Toronto campus. As part of the southern edge of park, a wrought iron fence extended from the Trinity Gates along Queen Street.

St. Hilda’s Walk (partially completed)
Extending from Gibson House to just south of the playground is the partially completed St. Hilda’s Walk. In the future, the continued reconstruction of St. Hilda’s Walk may include the reconstruction of the Trinity College Principal Residence.

Trinity Chapel
Near the tennis courts, lie the buried foundations of Trinity Chapel. In the future, perhaps these foundations will be uncovered and properly demarcated.

Trinity College
Just north of the Circle, lie the buried foundations of Trinity College. A magnificent neo-gothic structure, Trinity College was one of the finest buildings in the City prior to demolition in the 1950’s. In the future, perhaps these foundations will be uncovered and properly demarcated.

 

CULTURAL

Queen Street West Arts Community
Trinity Bellwoods Park is located in the heart of the Queen West arts community. According to Mayor David Miller, there is a greater density of art galleries in the Queen West neighborhood than in any other neighborhood in North America.

Art In the Park
Every summer, Trinity Bellwoods plays host to Art in the Park, a children’s outdoor art camp that runs all summer long.

Queen West Art Crawl
In late summer, as part of the Queen West Art Crawl, Trinity Bellwoods hosts a giant art sale in the park with hundreds of works on display by local artists.

Spring Yard Sale
Every spring, local residents congregate to buy and sell precious treasures at a giant yard sale in the park.

Outdoor Theatre, Concerts and Films in the Bowl
During the warmer months, plays, films and a drum circle take place in the bowl after sunset.

Trinity Community Centre
The oldest community centre in Toronto, the Trinity Community Centre hosts a wealth of community programs. The building also contains various environmental design elements such as a gray water reclamation system that funnels roof water into adjacent park gardens.

 

NATURAL PHENOMENON

A Harvest Moon View of Toronto’s Skyline
On a full moon, a great place to view Toronto’s skyline is from the diagonal path as it bisects the Circle. Walk to the point along the path where the tree canopy parts and look up.

 

URBAN RECREATION

Playground and Outdoor Activities
In the heart of Queen West, Trinity Bellwoods Park plays host to a variety of outdoor activities including a children’s playground and wading pool, volleyball courts, a baseball diamond, skating rink, tobogganing, and tennis courts.

Here's some interesting Trinity Bellwoods history that was shared by an area resident, Leslie Cooper. Her mother was Grace Bickford Forbes. Thank you so much Leslie for sharing. Please see attached.

pdf Gorevale_Info.pdf

For more history of the park see “Between the Bridge and the Brewery” by Jon Harstone.  Harstone lives in the Trinity Bellwoods community and is a former board member of Heritage Toronto (formerly the Toronto Historical 13om·d) and former chair of the Toronto Local Conservation Advisory Committee (LACAC).  The book was published by, and is available from, the Trinity Bellwoods Community Association.  Here's an evocative quote from the book:

                                "Before the opening of Dundas street,
                                 the Trinity-Bellwoods area was reached
                                 by canoe along Garrison Creek or
                                 on a foot path through the woods."

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Tue Aug 05 @ 3:00PM - 07:00PM
Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market
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Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market
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Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market

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