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FOCUS: Grading our Greenspace (Dec. 2023)

December 23rd, 2023 · No Comments

Compiled by Alexa Méndez

Rejuvinated Queen’s Park looking north. MIA KESKINEN/GLEANER NEWS

Each year the Annex Gleaner reviews the abundance of parks in our coverage area using a variety of criteria. While there is no decisive “winner” of the grading, letter grades are assigned to convey the quality of the parks considering aspects such as upkeep, design, and amenities. The reviews accompanying the grades also let the reader know what makes each space unique.

This collection of park reviews contains the second nine parks reviewed this year, with more gradings to come in future editions of the Annex Gleaner 

Queen’s Park

47 Queen’s Park Cres. 

Grade: A (Last year B)

Time: 12:30 p.m.

Reasons to go: Queen’s Park is the friend that always gives and doesn’t expect anything back. The trees are the skyscrapers of the park, a subtle shield from the city’s vibrance. This park has a space for everyone—dozens of benches for uninterrupted pondering, leaf-carpeted paths for your daily strolls, and picnic tables for a change of scene during your lunch break. Even the dogs aggressively pull away from their leashes to get a sniff of the flowers blooming all around the park. It’s certainly a spot where you feel mesmerized by your simple surroundings of trees, squirrels, and people gracefully walking through. 

Overheard: “That’s a skateboard rider,” a child points out, fascinated as the skateboard smacks against the concrete.

Did you know: The 15-foot statue of King Edward VII in the center of the park’s roundabout was originally located in Delhi, India for 56 years before it was installed in Toronto in 1969. 

Jay Macpherson Green 

255 Avenue Rd. 

Grade: A- (Last year B+)

Time: 1:45 p.m.

Reasons to go: Jay Macpherson Green is on the corner of Avenue Road—often swarmed by cars—and Macpherson Avenue, a street lined by gorgeous Victorian homes. Though when the roads get lonelier, it’s harder to overlook the trees towering over the path, and even harder to ignore their invitation to stop and sit under them. 

Overheard: A jogger softly panting as he passed through the park.

Did you know: Jay Macpherson was a poet and professor at Victoria College.

The well-appointed Sergeant Ryan Russell Parkette features a coveted water fountain. ALEXA MÉNDEZ/GLEANER NEWS

Sergeant Ryan Russell Parkette 

250 Avenue Rd.

Grade: B+ (Last year B+)

Time: 2:00 p.m.

Reasons to go: Sergeant Ryan Russell Parkette may be your next stop after passing through Jay Macpherson Green right across the street. This park offers a safety blanket for children—a fenced playground—and it truly provides peace of mind for those minding them. The park also has a water fountain, a necessity for little ones after a day outside.

Overheard: “Just say excuse me,” a mother reassures her child while trying to get past a group of teenagers on the sidewalk.

Did you know: The Davey Mounsey Memorial Fund pays tribute to law enforcement, fire, EMS and military members through donating life-saving defibrillators to public buildings. The fund’s 133rd donation was in honour of Sergeant Ryan Russell, who died in the line of duty in 2011. 

Boswell Parkette

4 Boswell Ave.

Grade: C+ (Last year B)

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Reasons to go: Boswell Parkette can be easily missed because it’s squeezed in between two buildings, tucked behind a bus stop, and well, its size. This small parkette may be limited, but it’s a great spot to wait for the bus or take a quick break. It is impressively well-maintained—a garbage bin nearby and a generous selection of greenery.  

Overheard: An employee unloading bricks into a wheelbarrow on the back of a truck.

Did you know: Boswell Avenue—named after Toronto mayor, Arthur Radcliffe Boswell—was formally named Victoria Avenue.

Playful and creative Taddle Creek Park continues to shine. MARISA KELLY/GLEANER NEWS

Taddle Creek Park 

40 Bedford Rd. 

Grade: A (Last year A)

Time: 3:30 p.m.

Reasons to go: Taddle Creek Park is a breath of fresh air. Its playground has just enough for every little one to be content for as long as they’ll allow themselves. It’s the space you feel drawn to stay in for a while longer, and luckily there are numerous benches. It would be wrong to not mention the showstopper of the park, The Vessel, a sculpture made of 4 km of stainless-steel rod. This sculpture is a water-carrying vessel that truly ties the park’s personality together.

Overheard: “Can you come and take it for the rest of the way?” a man holding a wooden sculpture yells to a woman across the street. 

Did you know: Taddle Creek was one of the many water sources that the Anishinaabe Nation or Ojibway-speaking people of the region drew from.

Philosopher’s Walk is a truly beloved park described by our reviewer as simply “romantic”. HAILEY ALEXANDER/GLEANER NEWS

Philosopher’s Walk

78 Queen’s Park Cres. W.

Grade: A+ (Last year A+)

Time: 4:30 p.m.

Reasons to go: Philosopher’s Walk is the walk you need after studying for hours, attending back-to-back meetings, or sinking into your mattress for too long. The ancestral trees will truly make you feel as if you have escaped to a scene in Narnia or Harry Potter. A walk can be a cure for many things. Is that what they say?

Overheard: “See! I told you,” said a man in excitement to somebody on the phone. 

Did you know: Taddle Creek flowed through what is now Philosopher’s Walk, and the only bit left of Taddle Creek remains in the pond at Wychwood Park.

Modern playground equipment activates the Huron Street playground making it a great stopping place for kids on their way to and from school. ALEXA MÉNDEZ/GLEANER NEWS

Huron Street Playground

495 Huron St.

Grade: B- (Last year C+)

Time: 12:00 p.m.

Reasons to go: Within minutes of arriving, the playground was swarmed by dozens of children. A few swiftly climbed their way up the spider web climbing net, while others raced to the two web swings or curiously roamed the park. This park is a great stopping place on the way to and from school, but it feels like that’s all it is. It’s a fairly small space with only a few picnic tables and benches, so there is not an open invitation for all caregivers or passersby to sit down. Considering all the excitement and determination to play, the water fountain station is greatly used at this park. 

Overheard: A little boy screaming when a few birds flew gracelessly over his head.

Did you know: Dogs don’t have to miss out on the fun thanks to the fenced leash-free area!

Robert Street Park 

60 Sussex Ave.

Grade: A+ (Last year A-)

Time: 1:30 p.m.

Reasons to go: Robert St. Park is a friend to all. Even as you’re stepping over your feet to get to class on time or speed walking to catch your subway, this park manages to lure you in. It does nothing in particular—it has a field, a few benches, a few clusters of shaded Adirondack chairs—but you are drawn by how the community shares this space. You may get a glimpse of young girlhood—a dozen girls sit on the grassy hill, braiding one another’s hair and sharing secrets. Perhaps you will sit at one of the many benches along the outside of the grass field and listen to a group of young boys argue over who is keeping the right score in their game of frisbee. It’s a unique spot that has a space for everyone—alone or with company—and some may say the revitalization of Robert Street Park was worth the wait. 

Overheard: “I’m open,” a boy yells out to his friend during an intense ultimate frisbee game. 

Did you know: The University of Toronto invested in a geoexchange system to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by drilling 153 boreholes extending 850 feet below  Robert Street Park. 

Huron Washington Park 

406 Huron St. 

Grade: B+ (Last year No Grade)

Time: 1:00 p.m.

Reasons to go: Huron Washington Park is a fenced playground with a variety of play spots for children. The main emphasis is on the playground structure and the swing set. It’s a fairly small park with no greenspace within the fenced area, but it’s a great spot for children to have fun. This area has a lot of foot traffic, but it’s a quiet place for a city park!

Overheard: “The sun is so hot,” a boy says to his friend while taking a break from throwing their football around. 

Did you know: Dorothy Peebles was recognized as a lifelong, compassionate activist and her memorial tree is in Huron Washington Park. 


Tags: Annex · Life