Protecting Berczy Park fountain for the winter

8 Nov

Our new fountain by night.

The City Parks, Forestry & Recreation Dept advises us that, since the new Berczy Park fountain is a large tourist draw, they want to protect the features from potential graffiti, damage and the elements without making it look unsightly. As a result, they are looking into having the individual dogs shrink-wrapped with plastic to provide some form of protection and they will be installing some flat plywood covers within the fountain that will be painted the same colour in order to cover the lights and grates.

In addition, they will be putting up some fast fence around the perimeter of the fountain and dogs to keep the public back. These temporary measures will protect the fountain from the elements and potential off-season damage.

IMG_1566But holiday lights coming…

To brighten the park during the winter months, we can look forward to plans by the St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood Business Improvement Association (BIA) to resume their annual tradition of animating Berczy Park during the holiday season.

For years, the BIA decorated park trees and installed a brilliant lighted tree in the fountain as part of the The Old Town Toronto Cavalcade of Lights. This year, with park renovations completed, the tradition will return, with a fun new installation on the Berczy Park stage.

Join the BIA for an event on Saturday December 2, from 5:30-6:30pm, to light up the new holiday feature, including carol singing and free hot beverages for the community. Visit the BIA website for more details on this and other great Old Town events.


“Jacob’s Ladder” public art/kids play structure arrives in Berczy Park

27 Oct

IMG_4530Berczy Park keeps evolving with the installation – beginning this week – of the new public artwork/kids play structure, “Jacob’s Ladder” in the park green-space.

Designed by Toronto artist Luis Jacob, the artwork encompasses two giant bronze hands, with a rope lattice suspended between the fingers, forming a whimsical  string game. It’s perfect for climbing, swinging, playing, or a backdrop for a casual badminton game or a great ‘selfie’ photo moment.  The installation, including the intricate rope-work, will be completed by late November, with a public unveiling planned for Spring 2018.


Art inspired by the timeless kids’ string game!

The City oversaw a community judging panel – a committee of local residents and art experts – who selected Jacob’s work to bring to life his kid-friendly art concept.

Luis says the concept encompasses an image very familiar to children (the universal ‘string game’), with the hand sculptures designed to create human scale in our rapidly-developing neighbourhood. The string imagery also ties to Toronto art traditions in which rope and string art has been a popular theme over the years, notes Jacob.


Toronto artist Luis Jacob oversees the installation of Jacob’s Ladder in Berczy Park.

Born in Lima, Peru, Jacob is a multimedia artist based in nearby Parkdale. His recent works include ‘Spirits of the Grotto,’ a large-scale metal mosaic panel in the Dufferin & Queen St underpass.

The Berczy Park public artwork was selected as part of the City  arts procurement process, organized by the Cultural Services and the Parks, Forestry and Recreation departments, with the goal of creating a kid-friendly, playful centre piece for the green space in the redesigned Berczy Park.

IMG_4532Park visitors are sure to enjoy this artistic park feature, although smokers are advised that they must not smoke within 9-metres of the artwork, since it is a designated kids play area, and park users must comply with City of Toronto non-smoking regulations.

Halloween Haunted Walk with Friends of Berczy Park on October 25th

13 Oct
Original-HWT-Biden-St.-James-WEB-1024x684Looking for a spooky Halloween activity in our neighbourhood? Want to meet some neighbours in a fun setting? Want to take your pet out and show off their Halloween costume?
Then sign-up ASAP for the special Haunted Walk of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood, arranged for Friends of Berczy Park, led by the ghost story-telling guides from The Haunted Walk tour.
After meeting at 7:15pm sharp on Wednesday October 25th in the Berczy Park gravel mural garden, right behind the Flatiron Bldg, a tour guide from local business The Haunted Walk will lead us on a one-hour walk among some of the scariest sites, including The Hockey Hall of Fame, The Old Courthouse, the King Eddy Hotel, the St. James Cemetery and the famously haunted Mackenzie House.
Wear your walking shoes and dress for the weather.
And, feel free to bring your pet along on this walk (in costume if you like!), since we’ll have some pet treats to share.
The cost for this tour is just $21.75+tax per person and must be paid in advance directly to Haunted Walks. See tickets info below.
fullsizeoutput_1cd7Sounds fun? Then don’t forget to register in advance right away since space is limited. Call Rowena Brook, Toronto Haunted Walk Manager at 416-238-1473 to sign-up and arrange payment. Tell her you want to join the ‘Friends of Berczy Park Haunted Walk on October 25th” 

Cheer for the Marathoners in Berczy Park!

13 Oct

St Lawrence Cheering Section - STWM 2017

As usual, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon route will run along the northern border of Berczy Park, along Wellington St East.

Join the rambunctious, annual neighbourhood cheering squad (organized by Jamii arts organization, Canada Running Series, The St Lawrence Market and Friends of Berczy Park) on Sunday Oct 22nd, beginning at 10:30am.
Pick your spot along Wellington St East by Berczy Park (between Church and Scott Streets) and enjoy the music and excitement while rooting for these world-class runners as they complete the final kilometre to the City Hall finishline.

And, by simply showing up and contributing your voice or applause to our noisy cheering squad, you can help the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood again win a prize for ‘Best Neighbourhood Cheering Section’ by the Marathon organizers. This award includes prize money from the Marathon sponsor that will be directed to non-profit groups and community activites right in our neighbourhood.

Want to involve your children or pets? Then come out at 9:30am on the 22nd to join the 1Km Family Run. Meet at the St Lawrence Cafe at 248 The Esplanade for a fun run through the community with prizes for the best costume, fastest runner, best four-legged companion, etc.

So, come out to have some fun cheering for the runners and support your local community at the same time!

Best practices from the best parks … introducing Bryant Park in NYC

9 Oct

As we look to make and keep Berczy Park one of the best public spaces around, we take note of other innovative and inviting parks, like the beloved Bryant Park in midtown New York. Check out these images courtesy of our working committee member Judith, which show the creative park programming, and people-friendly signage, deployed at Bryant Park.

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Join our Berczy Clean-up on Sunday September 10th

1 Sep

Join volunteers like this local resident who pitches in at the park whenever she can!

Want to keep Berczy Park beautiful? Stop by our Berczy Park Clean-up on Sunday Sept 10, 10am-11:30am, and spend a bit of time helping us tidy up the park.  You’ll be amazed what a difference we can make in 30 minutes, an hour, or so!

What to bring? Just bring yourself, but please email us your RSVP if you are likely coming, so we can bring enough supplies, at . *If you can, do bring some clean-up gloves, a broom, dustpan or garden trowel, and remember any personal care items you might need, like sunblock or water.


Adam from Toronto Free Walking Tours hunts down trash in Berczy.

This event is inspired by the folks at Toronto Free Walking Tours, who led the first successful clean-up event, when they saw that our new park could use a bit of TLC. Now, Friends of Berczy Park and Toronto Free Walking Tours are working together to host these community clean-ups as needed, to help keep Berczy beautiful.

Can’t make it this time? No problem, but help us help beautify Berczy whenever you can. For example, each time you visit Berczy, pick up one piece of litter, or report poor park conditions to 3-11. Thanks!

A bit of Berczy history: Who was ‘Berczy’?

15 Aug
Scannable Document on Aug 15, 2017, 9_53_36 AM

Self-portrait of William Moll Berczy, co-founder of Toronto.

Members at the Historical Society of Mecklenburg Upper Canada recently pointed out that the new Berczy Park currently does not provide much explanation of the park’s namesake, William Moll Berczy, other than the Berczy Family Sculpture plaque in the southeast quadrant of the park.

Drawing upon materials kindly provided by this Society, we offer a few highlights from their 1976 illustrated booklet, German Pioneers of Toronto and Markham Township: The Story of William Moll Berczy.  The booklet covers many intriguing elements of Berczy’s life. Among the details provided:

  • Berczy was baptized as ‘Johann Albrecht Ulrich Moll’ on Dec 10, 1744 in Wallerstein Germany.
  • In early adulthood, he served a diplomatic post in Poland during the Russian invasion in 1764.  During his wartime exploits, the Hungarian leader of a militia troop nicknamed him “Berczy”.
  • Later, after studying at the Academy of Arts in Vienna, he travelled Europe as  a diplomat and worked as a painter in Italy and England in the late 1700s.
  • One of his English arts patrons encouraged him to lead a group of German immigrants to New York State in America. He adopted the surname ‘Berczy’ for his family for this next stage in his life.
  • Under Berczy’s lead, the group of farmers and craftsmen eventually settled in Upper Canada in 1794.
  • Scannable Document on Aug 15, 2017, 9_54_34 AM

    Upper Canada Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe and Willam Berczy discuss the development of York (Toronto)

    Berczy met Upper Canada Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, who persuaded Berczy to settle his Germans on a 64,000 acre site in the newly founded town of York (Toronto). As part of the agreement, the German immigrants would construct a road (Yonge Street) from Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe.

  • Upon completing the gruelling road-building project in late 1794, the group of 186 German men, women and children established the Markham Township, with farms, a saw and grist mill, school, etc. Berczy also explored the Rouge River as an faster, navigable route to Lake Ontario.
  • Unfortunately, in 1797, the Government of Upper Canada cancelled its land grants with the German settlers, leaving them in despair, and Berczy in bankruptcy.
  • Berczy travelled to England in 1799 to appeal the decision before the British Government. Although a British Committee decided in his favour in 1801, the ruling was not confirmed by the Executive Council of Upper Canada.
  • Back in Upper Canada, Berczy worked as an architect for the Town of York, consulting on the St. James Church and a Don River Bridge.
  • Joseph_Brant_by_William_Berczy_c.1807

    William Berczy painted this portrait of Mohawk leader Joseph Brant, circa 1807.

    After settling with his creditors, Berczy relocated to Montreal and worked as a portrait painter. Several of his works are today part of the collection of the National Gallery of Canada.

  • In 1812, Berczy departed for England, to  re-open his York land claim case. It is believed he died en-route to London, in New York, under mysterious circumstances on Feb 5, 1813, and is buried in the Trinity Cemetery near Wall Street.


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