Tuesday, June 4 marked the groundbreaking of June Callwood Park, a new public space south of Fort York in memory of the Canadian journalist and social activist. On hand to break ground was Janet Kennish, President of the Garden Club of Toronto, Jim Hart, General Manager of the city's Parks, Forestry and Recreation department, Mike Layton, Ward 19’s Councillor, Jesse Frayne, environmental researcher, author, and daughter of the late June Callwood, and Lani Moses, also from the Garden Club of Toronto, all along with a stiff wind.

From left to right: Janet Kennish, Jim Hart, Councillor Mike Layton, Jesse Frayne, and Lani Moses. Photo by Edward LaRusic.

June Callwood (1924-2007) was born in Chatham, Ontario, and rose to fame as a journalist at the Globe and Mail, and later on the CBC, where she would become the host of a number of programs, including In Touch and Caregiving with June Callwood. Known for her activism, Callwood was part of the creation of several dozen social justice organizations, including Casey House and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. She would become a member of the Order of Ontario in 1998, and be made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2000. Over the course of her lifetime, she would receive 20 honorary degrees and diplomas.

"I believe in kindness", a recording from the last interview June Callwood did. It became a significant piece of the design.

About fifty people of all ages including children were on hand to see the groundbreaking of what promises to be an amazing public space. Nestled inside the wedge outlined by Fleet Street, Gzowski Boulevard, Fort York Boulevard, and Bastion Street, the design will use its relatively narrow shape to physically transpose words from Callwood's final interview onto the landscape: “I believe in kindness”.

Visual rending of June Callwood Park from the side and above, and a description of its features, by gh3.

June Callwood Park is designed by gh3, and will have a number of interesting features to attract people of all ages. The features located within and around Callwood's words, and include:

  1. A ‘Puddle Plaza’, that purposefully will create pools of water when it rains for children to splash around in;
  2. A ‘Puzzle Garden’, a series of benches shaped in a whimsical manner for children to play in and around;
  3. A curvy maze, which will incorporate advanced “can-and-string” technology to entertain;
  4. A ‘Pink Field’, a large, rubberized surface meant for spur-of-the-moment and improvised play;
  5. The ‘Time Strip Gardens’, a series of gardens that borrow from a variety of “native landscape and European settlement” themes. A lone apple tree, the “Callwood Tree”, will lie where all the paths converge; and
  6. The “Ephemeral Pools”, an urban wetland that will act as a splash pool in the summer, and a mist garden in the fall.

Rending of June Callwood Park in Spring, by gh3.

The amount of attention put into the perishables in the park is particularly noteworthy, with hardier trees—Freeman maple and red oak—near the entrances from Fleet St. and Fort York Boulevard, hundreds of peonies, and 83 pink crab apple trees in the middle of the park. The shade of pink on the trees was selected to try and best match up to June Callwood's favorite colour.

Councillor Layton speaks before the groundbreaking at June Callwood Park. Photo by Edward LaRusic.

Layton started the ceremony off honouring June Callwood's legacy, followed by the importance of the various partners—particularly the Garden Club of Toronto—in getting this project off the ground. Behind him, several potted trees stood, early examples of what will be planted. As the wind was more than a bit strong, it knocked the trees over several times, forcing staff to right them. One gust even threw Layton off his speech once when the wind caught the notes he was reading. Still, the wind wasn’t powerful enough to ruin what this park would mean to both Callwood and the community.

Rending of June Callwood Park during the summer, by gh3.

Kennish would follow Layton’s speech, highlighting the amazing amount of time and effort that the 363 members of the Garden Club of Toronto puts into projects such as this one. She says that approximately 100 members and volunteers expect to start doing the planting in Spring of 2014.

The wind was constantly knocking over these trees all ceremony! Photo by Edward LaRusic.

An advocate for new public space, Layton is excited for what this park will mean, not only as part of the city’s ongoing battle to carve public space into a dense urban fabric, but for residents of all ages. “This new park is anticipated by the community, and will be well-used by the community.”

Rending of June Callwood Park at night, by gh3.

What do you think about the new park? Look for more renderings on our dataBase page linked below, join in the discussion at the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page!

Related Companies:  City of Toronto, gh3