Berczy Park Grand Re-opening moments

4 Jul

DDcXTDkXoAEvohrFive years after the initial idea of a Berczy Park revitalization took hold, Berczy Park celebrated a lively grand re-opening event on June 28, 2017. The event, hosted by The City of Toronto, St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA, Friends of Berczy Park and other community partners, drew well over 500 attendees to unveil the beautiful new $7.2 million park.

Following live music, children’s face-painting and storytelling – and a unique performance art appearance by Les Moutons, actors dressed as shepherd and sheep in the new park green space – speeches were made by Deputy Mayor and Councillor Pam McConnell, Mayor John Tory, and park designers Claude Cormier and Marc Halle of Claude Cormier et associes of Montreal. The crowd gathered for a ribbon cutting ceremony by the whimsical cast iron fountain with 27 dog sculptures (& one cat).

If you missed the event, or want to re-live some of the highlights, enjoy our slideshow below. Thank you to all the photographers who shared these photos on Twitter and Instagram,  including Jon from EstatePhotoArt.

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“Ask our pet trainer” at Pet-lovers Day in Berczy Park on July 8

2 Jul
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Ask our pet trainer to teach Rex a new trick a Pet-Lovers Day on July 8th

Are you ready to teach Rex a new trick? Or struggling to address jumping, barking, recall or other behavioural issues in your dog?

Then definitely join us for our third event on Saturday July 8th to take advantage of our free  “Ask the Pet Trainer” activity. Join Mary Fraser, a certified trick trainer with nearly a decade of experience training dogs & cats in postive reinforcement and motivational training methods. An expert puppy trainer, clicker trainer and groomer, Mary can teach your dog a new trick on the spot, or offer suggestions to help you work through common issues with your pet.

In the meantime, check out these images from our June 3rd event courtesy of our amazing photographer Jon from EstatePhotoArt.com. And, congratulations to our raffle prize winners from that day, Ian M. and Christina L. who picked up great prizes from Park9 and PetValu.

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If these photos have your tail wagging, stop by the park on Saturday July 8 for free coffee from Tim Hortons and pet treats from PetValu. And, register for great raffle prizes, including gourmet pet cookies from Northern Biscuit Bakery, and deluxe pet bath and nail trim gift certificates from Park9!

By the way: Got old pet toys, clothes or supplies you don’t need? Bring them to our event and we’ll donate them to Project Jessie, a rescue and adoption program run by the Animal Alliance of Canada.

So, look for our table in the mural garden/pea gravel on-leash pet area, behind the Flatiron Bldg.

  • Saturday, July 8, 9:30-11:30am
  • Rain date: The Sunday after, from 9:30-11:30am

Special thanks to our sponsors: Northern Biscuit Bakery, Park 9 Urbandog play care in the Distillery District/37 Parliament St; PetValu, 184 Front St E; and Tim Horton’s at 33 Yonge & 55 Front St E.

 

Adopt a tree in Berczy Park

28 Jun

IMG_2932You told us loud and clear – Now it’s your chance to make an impact in your park!

Friends of Berczy Park members have repeatedly told us that the trees are what you value most in our park. So, join our Friends of Berczy Park Adopt-a-Tree program to help care for these trees and create greenery that generations will enjoy!

Thanks to generous support from the LEAF non-profit organization,  Friends of Berczy Park is inviting community-members to play a hands-on role helping us tend the young trees during their first couple of vulnerable years of life. Volunteer adopters can take part at no cost!

IMG_1408What’s involved? Not too much:

  • Attend quick training in the park to be assigned your tree and learn to water and care for the tree.
  • Come once a week to water your tree, using the hose and supplies installed by Friends of Berczy Park. – likely 30 minutes per week. If needed, we can match you with a buddy to share the task when you are busy.
  • Although registered volunteers should be 18-years-of-age or older, this is a great activity for a family to do together, or an adult participant to bring along a youngster and involve them in nature.
  • Best of all, this is a free activity for our adopters, thanks to our sponsor LEAF.

How do I sign up?

  • Easy! Send an email to berczypark@gmail.com with the subject line ‘Adopt-a-tree’ program. Include your full name, address and phone #, and any questions you may have. We’ll respond and arrange a date for your brief orientation/training along with the other volunteers.
  • Expect the training and program to get under way by mid-late July, 2017.

Aren’t the Berczy Park trees on an irrigation system?

fullsizeoutput_1a15About half of the trees in Berczy Park are on an irrigation system with the innovative ‘silva cell’ technology to collect rain water and allow deep roots to grow (the trees on hard surface/pavement).

However, the rest of the trees (on turf/lawn areas) require regular watering like any young tree. So, we have lovely recently-planted elms, oaks, tulip trees and magnolia, as well as a number of mature/preserved trees, including ginkgo, katsura, pagoda, and amur cork, that need to be adopted too.

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LEAF’s Young Urban Forestry Leaders are ready to teach us how to be great stewards of Berczy Park.

How will we know what to do?

Friends of Berczy Park is grateful to have won a grant from LEAF, and its corporate and government sponsors, (among them TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and the City of Toronto) to introduce their widely-admired Adopt-a-Tree program in our park. During spring/summer 2017, LEAF’s Young Urban Forestry Leaders (female post-secondary students studying the fields of urban forestry and arboriculture) will inventory the Berczy Park trees, develop a stewardship plan for the park and help Friends of Berczy roll out the program. They are the experts and they’ll teach us how to run a successful program like others in Toronto parks.

That’s it! Thanks in advance for raising your hand to volunteer, for trying out your ‘green thumb’, and for helping make our new park green, lush and beautiful for many years to come!

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The official Grand Re-opening of YOUR Berczy Park

15 Jun

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A bit of Berczy history: Meet Berczy-backer Marie Day

14 Jun
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This parking lot occupied the site of present day Berczy Park in the 1970s.

If you think a few people can’t move City Hall, you should talk to Marie Day. After all, she deserves a lot of the credit for creating Berczy Park, despite tough odds.

Back in the 1960s and 70s, Marie, was one of a handful of concerned citizens who banded together to insist that the City convert a parking lot at Church and Wellington Streets into the Berczy Park we know today.

A long-time Toronto resident, whose career included writer, illustrator and stage director, Marie got her spirit for civic involvement from an early age. As the daughter of Mayor Ralph Day (1938-40), Marie remembers being just a little kid when she had to present a bouquet of flowers to Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) during a ceremony at Old City Hall.

Observing her father’s political life, Marie notes that, “I would never go into politics, but I felt we all had to pay our taxes, speak up and participate in our City.” (She later became a key organizer in the Bring Back the Don Task Force in the 1980s.)

While Marie admits some of the details are a bit fuzzy from 40 years back, when she was busy raising her children, she definitely recalls meeting with four other community-minded citizens who felt an injustice had occurred on the present site of Berczy Park. After the City had demolished more than 18,000 buildings* between 1965 and 1975, Day and her friends discovered that the block behind the Flatiron Bldg was listed as ‘parkland’ when in fact it was serving as a commercial parking lot.

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Site of Berczy Park, pre-1980 after the commercial parking lot was removed.

The group prepared a petition and lobbied the nearby businesses and City officials to make the block an actual park as the City Plan had designated the plot. Marie recalls a lot of back and forth discussions with the parking lot operator, who initially agreed only to add a few trees and grass at one end of the parking lot. This ‘mini-fight’ continued for some time before the commercial and civic interests relented to Marie’s group.

Marie remembers fondly the day the City finally bulldozed the unsightly parking booth that occupied the Berczy site: “We all went down to watch the demolition with a big grin on our faces and we shouted ‘Horray’ that the days of the parking lot had ended.”

While Marie is sad at the destruction of so much of the neighbourhood’s historic architecture, she’s proud of her ‘small role’ in bringing Berczy Park to life: “I’m also happy to see that people speak up a lot more these days and that young people have so many ways to get informed and join together for causes they care about.”

Thank you to you, Marie.

* The Toronto Story, Claire MacKay, Annick Press Ltd.

A bit of Berczy history … Boxing-in Berczy

11 Jun

While many people think Berczy Park dates back to the era of Old Town Toronto, they would be surprised to discover that the original park, prior to its 2015-2017 renovation, was only constructed in 1980.

berczy-park-2016_1980-aerial-shotThe park was part of an urban renewal project to redevelop many blocks of the St Lawrence Market neighbourhood. Countless blocks of historical structures were bulldozed and left as desolate parking lots until City officials determined new uses for the prime land.

But what stood on the Berczy Park site before it became a parking lot? Among the occupants of this irregular-shaped city block was the original factory of the Progress Paper Box Company (a predecessor of a company that celebrates its 100th birthday in 2017).

Progress Paper Box#1 copyToronto resident Marla Lukofsky recalls that her father’s father Morris Lukofsky, a new immigrant from Russia with no English and little money, came to Canada in 1914. Once settled in Toronto, he and his wife started a small storefront hatbox company on Spadina that turned into Progress Paper Box. Co. in 1917. When business grew, they moved the company to 31-37 Wellington St. East near the Flatiron building and stayed there for decades. They made boxes for everything from games to candies, from toys to clothing. Marla’s father, Lou Lukofsky later took over the company and made it even more successful.

Marla notes that “In 1967, the City of Toronto forced my father and Progress Paper Box Co. Ltd. out of his landmark building and property. The City gave him the standard rate allowed and Lou eventually found property on a barren lot near Keele and Finch.” The company went through a few name changes since then, including Progress Packaging and ProgressLuv2Pak, but it marks its 100th birthday in 2017.

As Marla points out, “This is a Toronto Story. This is a Canadian Story. This is an immigrant’s story. This is my father’s story.” And it’s an important part of the Berczy Park story too.

What else existed on the Berczy Park site? Claire MacKay’s history book, The Toronto Story (Annick Press), gives some clues, since each chapter illustrates the corner of Wellington and Church Street through the years (See the images below).

According to MacKay, the Berczy Park lot was a wharf-side pasture back in 1818 and by 1840 a stage coach office and The Wellington Hotel occupied the site, adjoining a tented circus and livery stable. By 1930, a handsome block of office buildings dominated the vista, including the Gooderham & Worts/Flatiron Bldg (1892), located close to the Stock Exchange at Wellington and Leader Lane. By the late 1960s, only the Flatiron Bldg survived, with a parking lot occupying the rest of the block, before Berczy Park was constructed in 1980.

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A bit of Berczy history… Who is ‘the Berczy Family’?

8 Jun

IMG_2889If you’ve ever stopped to inspect the ‘Berczy Family’ sculpture now located prominently in the south-east corner of the park, you know that our park history is tied to the Consumers Gas Company, the founding politicians of Upper Canada and Toronto, and several talented artists.

The sculpture of a mother and father sheltering two infants in their arms was donated by the Historical Society of Mecklenburg Upper Canada Inc., with financial support from The Consumers’ Gas Company and the Council of Metro Toronto in memory of Johann Albrecht Ulrich Moll, better known as William Berczy.

IMG_2888See our ‘About’ page for a few more details, but basically, Moll/Berczy, born in Germany, was co-founder of York (Toronto) in 1794. His younger son, Charles Albert Berczy, was the first president of The Consumers’ Gas Company, from 1847 to 1856, and Postmaster of Toronto. His older son, William Bent Berczy, was a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada and, like his father and mother, a gifted artist.

As an aside, during recent park renovations, Friends of Berczy Park was contacted by a nephew of the artist who made the Berczy Family sculpture, Almuth Lutkenhaus-Lackey , a well-regarded, German-born sculptor who emigrated to Canada. Her nephew recalls watching his aunt work on the sculpture in her studio more than 30 years ago.

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