Toronto has no shortages of public parks in the city, each with their own unique features, recreational facilities and adventure playgrounds. While some parks are named after the neighbourhood itself, others are named for notable Torontonians and local residents. Interestingly, many of these outdoor sites feature a historical plaque somewhere on the vicinity explaining the park’s origin and significance. Here’s how five popular Toronto parks got their unusual namesake.
Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens, (Lawrence Park)
If you’re searching for a quiet spot in the city, look no further than the memorial flower gardens in Lawrence Park. The iron gated entrance leads to the landscaped grounds and a rose garden surrounded by old trees and a pathway. But who was Alexander Muir? A Canadian poet and songwriter, Muir was best known for composing the patriotic song, “The Maple Leaf Forever” in 1867 and was the first principal of Alexander Muir/Gladstone Public School. He lived most of his life in Toronto including a house on Laing Street in Leslieville and passed away in 1906.
June Rowlands Park, (Davisville)
Named after Toronto’s first female mayor, June Rowlands served her term for one year in 1991, beating out the late Jack Layton and becoming the city’s 60th mayor. The Davisville park was named in her honour in 2004. Also inside the park, you’ll discover the “Sharon, Lois and Bram Playground,” recently dedicated to the popular children singers. With plans to expand the playground, it will soon be transformed into a musical haven for kids with instruments and skinnamarink-themed climbing structures.
Art Eggleton Park, (Harbord Street)
Located on Harbord just east of Ossington, the park is t-ball central in the summer months. Art Eggleton is named after Toronto’s longest serving mayor and features baseball diamonds, a playground and splash pad. Eggleton was the Mayor of Toronto from 1980 to 1991, now a Senator and working with John Tory on public housing issues.
Jimmie Simpson Park, (Leslieville)
The popular park and community centre located just east of Broadview Avenue on Queen East was named for James “Jimmie” Simpson, the former Mayor of Toronto in 1935. Born in 1873 in England, Simpson immigrated to Canada in his teens, and later worked as a news reporter and politician. The park is a neighbourhood gem where residents and city councillors take great pride in keeping the space clean and upgraded.
Jamie Bell Adventure Park, (High Park)
Located in one of the city’s best public parks, the adventure playground inside High Park is a main attraction. The playground is named after Jamie Bell, the General Coordinator of the High Park Adventure Committee and a volunteer who pioneered the idea of a “natural adventure playground” in the city. The community-built playground was constructed in 1998 but the park was later destroyed by fire and rebuilt by the community and HGTV host Mike Holmes. The park is a west-end favourite, swarmed with kids almost year round.
Photo by Alan L. Brown, Toronto Plaques