By: Faezeh Ensafi
My thesis building site is located in Trinity bellwoods park, Toronto Canada. Trinity Bellwoods original spatial design can be traced back to its former occupant Trinity College, one of the sources for its name. Trinity College was founded as an independent institution by Bishop John Strachan, opened its doors in 1852 and was bought over by University of Toronto in 1904. Its neo-Gothic design (by Kivas Tully) is said to remind of the famous Cambridge and Oxford. With three more additions to the college buildings, Frank Darling designed pathways to connect the main building to the new chapel and convocation hall. In 1922-25, University of Toronto moved all the buildings to the main St. George campus. The city sought to reoccupy and repurpose the abandoned buildings in search for preservation and failed, hence the whole site was razed in 1956. Over the years the main straight pathway system and the gate (main entrance of Trinity College) were preserved.
Between 1928-1945, the park was home to a small amusement park, a park shelter and later a leisure park, similar to the English Pleasure Gardens. As a part of preservation project pathways were restored, tree-lines were improved on the northern parts and sports facilities were added. Looking through Toronto Archive photos, one can see the shift of activities over the years towards what’s today a community hang-out. The majority of photos include gatherings for sports and recreational activities, winter-slides, football games and so on.
Over the past few decades another social shift occurred in the entire neighborhood affiliated with the park. In the 1990s a gentrification movement started on Queen St West which resulted in low income class(which mainly consisted of ethnic groups and artists) to move to the more affordable west end of Queen St W (now called “West Queen West” or the “Art District”). This are slowly formed a more fused community mostly identified as the creative type. Trinity Bellwoods as the districts new community space now holds gatherings and events managed by the residents. The park, so rich in history becomes an inspiration to many artists to perform art installations, practice dance routines to finish large canvas paintings.
Walking in Trinity Bellwoods Park as a first time observer, you will get surprised by non-axial paths, dead-end walkways, straight yet oddly angled paths, irregular yet massive topographic elevations. U will notice elements that do not quite belong to a park ((i.e. the gateway, a deck in the middle of a giant topographical hole).