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How do you describe nature?

July 17th, 2017

Photo courtesy of the AGO.

There’s so much to look at in the brand new Grange Park, which officially opened to the public on Saturday, July 8. The Henry Moore sculpture Large Two Forms is a big hit in its new lush leafy location, having been moved from its original spot at Dundas and McCaul. The new playgrounds and interactive water features have kids swinging and splashing, and climbing on structures that look like tipped-over paint cans, crumpled up pieces of paper, and a giant squeezed paint tube. Then, there are more than 80 additional trees and newly-planted gardens that invite you to take a seat and rest awhile in the shade.

With so much beauty surrounding you, it might be easy to miss another one of the park’s new features—an inspirational walkway bearing quotes from iconic Canadian writers, artists and leaders, engraved into the bricks beneath your feet.

Photo courtesy of the AGO.

The idea for these engraved pavers came after the initial plan for the park was set, but the Grange Park Advisory Committee (GPAC) thought that a variety of short quotes reflecting on nature and city life would be an enlightening addition to the new outdoor space. A working group came up with several criteria the quotes had to meet: they had to be published, relate to the theme of “nature” or to Toronto and the Grange community, originate from a Canadian or someone based in Canada, and be less than 125 characters. A tall order, but GPAC’s email list of over 300 neighbours responded in droves, and the team whittled it down to a long list of 19 quotes for a community vote. The results of that vote chose the final 14 quotes, and GPAC contacted the estates or authors for permission to use those not in the public domain (all were very enthusiastic about participating in the project). Those quotes are now found on the pathway!

Photo courtesy of the AGO.

“Evoking nature and a connection to the Grange neighbourhood were central to our selections of these inscriptions,” noted Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, Honorary President, Grange Community Association and a member of the working group. “The words of these authors, poets and civic minded activists, who reflect the history and diversity within our community, have inspired many over the years and are now permanently included in our park.”

“Just as great stories have inspired the people of downtown Toronto, downtown Toronto and the Grange neighbourhood have inspired great stories. To celebrate in the Grange the most creative and fearless words from a varied and vibrant cross-section of writers is to pay homage to how neighbourhood spaces evolve and thrive,” said Joe Cressy, Toronto City Councillor, Trinity-Spadina.

Photo courtesy of the AGO.

The next time you’re walking through Grange Park, look for the following quotes engraved in the path:

Live with me on Earth
among red berries and the bluebirds
and leafy young twigs whispering.
– Milton Acorn, Live with Me on Earth Under the Invisible Daylight Moon, Dig Up my Heart: Selected Poems

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
– Margaret Atwood, Bluebeard’s Egg

Trees even breathe for us and never ask to be thanked – they give us unconditional love.
– Roberta Bondar, Introduction to Toronto Tree Portraits

We aren’t the masters of the earth. We’re the servants.
– Joseph Boyden, The Orenda

This city is beauty, unbreakable and amorous as eyelids
– Dionne Brand, Thirsty

I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.
– Emma Goldman

In Cree, trees are “who,” not “what”.
– Tomson Highway

We and our cities, just by virtue of being, are a legitimate part of nature.
– Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, will come the snow
but today the sky is the pure amazing blue that is the colour of promises.
– Vincent Lam, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures 

Look, in shattered midnights,
On black ice under silver trees,
We are still dancing, dancing.
– Gwendolyn MacEwen, Afterworlds

Do we know where each person came from, and why, And from which unfriendly land?
– Shimen Nepom, Tramvay Lider (Streetcar Songs)

All trees attest to the wonder of evolution, the ability of life to adapt to unexpected challenges.
– David Suzuki & Wayne Grady, Tree: A Life Story

 Mon pays, ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver.
(My country isn’t a country, it is winter)
– Gilles Vigneault, Mon Pays

It takes a lifetime to find one’s own light.
– Joyce Wieland, Artist on Fire: The Work of Joyce Wieland by Kay Armatage (film)

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