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Summer Along the Waterfront: 2016 Edition

Oct 6, 2016

Children running through the splash pad on the Front Street Promenade in the West Don Lands.

The Front Street Promenade in the West Don Lands is pedestrian-focused space with a variety of elements for people of all ages to enjoy, including this splash pad which is the perfect place to cool off on a hot day. (Image credit: Nicola Betts)

By: Meghan Hogan

This summer, the Toronto waterfront was abuzz with activity thanks to some incredible weather and a number of exciting (and new) events. With Autumn now in full swing, let’s take a look back at some of the season highlights along the water’s edge that kept residents and visitors alike entertained all summer long. 

Doors Open participants congregate around The Water Guardians in the West Don Lands.Participants gather around No Shoes during the Jane’s Walk public art tour in the West Don Lands.   
Left: Doors Open participants congregate around The Water Guardians in the West Don Lands. Right: Jane’s Walk public art tour in the West Don Lands. 

To kick off the season, Waterfront Toronto participated in two of Toronto’s most popular events: Jane’s Walk and Doors Open. At both events, we offered a series of public tours through the West Don Lands that explored the neighbourhood’s extensive public art collection. Approximately 320 people attended both events in May to learn more about the West Don Lands public art program and how it was built as an essential component to the public realm. Didn’t get a chance to join this tour? Watch this video for insights on our public art strategy and a look at the West Don Lands public art collection. 

One Thousand Speculations, by Michel De Broin haning from the Hearn’s northeast corner during Luminato.A shot of the blue flag installation along Cherry Street in the Port Lands.
Left: One Thousand Speculations, by Michel De Broin hung from the Hearn’s northeast corner during Luminato. (Image via Toronto Life) Right: A shot of the blue flag installation along Cherry Street in the Port Lands. (Image credit: Connie Tsang)

Toronto’s beloved Luminato Festival returned in June and celebrated its 10th anniversary by taking over the Hearn Generating Station. For #TurnOnTheHearn, Luminato asked us to see the decommissioned generating station as a cultural destination and shone a light on the possibilities for this heritage building and the Port Lands. We took this opportunity – with tens of thousands of people travelling to the Hearn – to create an artistic interpretation of where Cherry Street will cross the new Don River in the future. If you didn’t get a chance to see the installation, watch this short drone video for a bird-eye view.

Community members at Lawren Harris Square learning the West African Dance from Miss Coco.K Funk and Lady Ree teach a group of participants how to play the ukulele.
Left: Community members took over Lawren Harris Square to learn the West African Dance from Miss Coco. (Image credit: Connie Tsang) Right: K Funk and Lady Ree teach a group of participants how to play the ukulele (Image credit: K Funk and Lady Ree).

In July, we introduced our very first season of free arts and cultural programming to waterfront neighbourhoods through the summer, which included two community workshops. First up was Miss Coco’s West African Dance. Community members joined Miss Coco and her drummers in Lawren Harris Square for a live performance and community dance workshop where they were introduced to the basic movements of West African Dance. 

Across the road at Corktown Common K Funk and Lady Ree ran a series of fun and educational ukulele workshops called Uke Can Sing. Gathered beneath the park’s tree canopy, residents and visitors learned to sing and play some of their favourite pop songs on the ukulele with these two performers, who are becoming infamous for their ukulele performances in the Toronto subway. 

Sherbourne Common’s pavilion doubled as a canvas during Versa’s performance, with psychedelic artwork projected on its walls.Looking out onto the entranced crowd during Versa’s performance.

Left: Sherbourne Common’s pavilion doubled as a canvas during Versa’s performance, with psychedelic artwork projected on its walls. Right: Looking out onto the entranced crowd during Versa’s performance. (Image credits: Connie Tsang)

Next up, audiences were dazzled by Versa – a stunning audio/visual performance that took place in Sherbourne Common. Audience members took their seats on the spacious south lawn and watched as music created on a bass guitar was transformed into a kaleidoscopic art display projected onto the walls of the park’s zinc-clad pavilion. This auditory and visual treat took full advantage of the park’s unique design features and gave audiences a show to remember. 

Following an afternoon of workshops, Shadowland Theatre led participants through the paths at Corktown Common to Front Street for a celebratory parade.
Following an afternoon of workshops, Shadowland Theatre led participants through the paths at Corktown Common in a celebratory parade. (Image via Shadowland Theatre)

In August, children and adults of all ages enjoyed an afternoon of family-friendship workshops from Shadowland Theatre where they helped create and rehearse all the elements for a parade. Incorporating and celebrating elements of local waterfronts, participants helped create costumes, flags and even learned some choreography (not to mention stilt walking!). The day culminated in a jubilant parade through Corktown Common in the West Don Lands. 

Food vendor Young Animal serving up tasty eats at Movies on the Common.Movie-goers gathered on the south lawn of Corktown Common to enjoy an open-air screening of Apollo 13.

Left: Food vendor Young Animal served up tasty eats at Movies on the Common. (Image Credit: Connie Tsang) Right: Movie-goers gathered on the south lawn of Corktown Common to enjoy an open-air movie screening along with stunning views of the downtown skyline. (Image Credit: Nicola Betts).

Taking the festivities into the night, Waterfront Toronto – in partnership with Toronto Outdoor Picture Show – hosted a Movie Night in Corktown Common on August 11th. Many new residents from the Canary District, River City and from other neighbouring areas gathered together under the stars to enjoy an open-air screen of Apollo 13. Prior to showtime, visitors were treated to a free yoga class and bootcamp, along with delicious treats from food vendors on-site. 

Performers draped in white make their way down the water’s edge promenade to Sherbourne Common.Water Ceremony made use of all the park’s water features, including the water channel pictured here.  
Left: Performers draped in white make their way down the water’s edge promenade to Sherbourne Common. Right: The Gata: Water Ceremony made use of all the park’s water features, including the water channel. (Image credits: Connie Tsang)

Those who managed to meander down to Sherbourne Common on August 18th were treated to an incredibly moving three-hour performance that transformed the park into an opera house. The Gata: Water Ceremony incorporated elements of voice, dance, live music and innovative staging throughout the entirety of the park, from the promenade and open lawns, to the water channel and striking pavilion. Drawing from a wide array of wisdom traditions, The Gata was an eclectic celebration and acknowledgement of Lake Ontario and our earth’s most precious resource: water. 

Julia Aplin, Jordana Deveau and Georgina Simms perform "River Spirit” during Singing River.Diana Tso tells a story about how dragons came to be.
Left: Julia Aplin, Jordana Deveau and Georgina Simms perform "River Spirit” during Singing River. Right: Diana Tso tells a story about how dragons came to be. (Image credits: Connie Tsang)

On September 24, members of the community gathered in Corktown Common for a special presentation of Singing River. The interactive presentation rekindles our relationship with the Wonscotonach River (Don River) and highlights the richly layered history of the Don Valley through dance, music, storytelling and installation. Visitors enjoyed two complementary strands: Stream of Stories focused on tales of river creatures while A Rivers Journey presented live music, audio installation and dance inspired by water. You can check out a photo recap of the day here

Waterfront Toronto’s CEO, Will Fleissig, was joined on stage by Vass Bednar, Karen Carter, Susan Blight, Katerina Cizek, Eb Zeidler, and Margie Zeidler for Future Cities Talks.Waterfront Toronto’s CEO, Will Fleissig, was joined on stage by Vass Bednar, Karen Carter, Susan Blight, Katerina Cizek, Eb Zeidler, and Margie Zeidler for Future Cities Talks.
Waterfront Toronto’s CEO, Will Fleissig, was joined on stage by Vass Bednar, Karen Carter, Susan Blight, Katerina Cizek, Eb Zeidler, and Margie Zeidler for Future Cities Talks. 

In an exciting and climactic fashion, summer came to a close with in/future – a transformative art experience that took over the iconic Ontario Place grounds from September 15-25. As part of the festival, Waterfront Toronto’s CEO William Fleissig hosted a series of talks that challenged festival-goers, culture-makers and urbanists to reimagine what it means to be a City Builder. On the afternoon of the closing day, Will was joined by some of Toronto’s leading voices who described what they see as essential ingredients for building successful communities in the future. We plan to make this series a semi-annual event so keep your eyes peeled for details on our spring edition. 

 

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter – and join the conversation about waterfront revitalization using the #TOtheWaterfront hashtag.

post contributor

  • Meghan Hogan

    Meghan Hogan is a communications and public engagement specialist at Waterfront Toronto. When not mastering her craft, Meghan enjoys being outdoors, cooking, and attending as many Toronto events and festivals as possible.