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// a personal geography of the Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood in Toronto.

I recently learnt that Trinity Bellwoods, one of Toronto’s premier parks, was never actually a part of the city’s urban plan.

Rather, the park was established after Trinity College merged with the University of Toronto, and the city subsequently took over the college’s immense grounds. Unfortunately, most of Trinity’s gorgeous original buildings were demolished; one structure does remain standing however, acting as a beautiful seniors’ residence in the middle of today’s park.

When I first heard that Trinity Bellwoods wasn’t included in Toronto’s formal urban plan, but was rather a happy coincidence, I have to say, I wasn’t too surprised.

It’s in perfect keeping with Toronto’s fundamental unplanned-ness that one of its greatest features was essentially an accident.

Toronto is the archetypal neo-Liberal city. The city is an unplanned jumble, a mix and mess of individual actors and their diverse desires that have interacted and coalesced into a city that is no more than the sum of its parts. Business and money rule here, and the wants of developers have largely shaped the city’s form.

If Toronto and its developers had had their way, there would be no Trinity Bellwoods park. Instead, extending west of Bathurst would be endless North-South streets, past Ossington, and all the way to High Park.

But fate chose a different Toronto. Happenstance gave us one of the most lovely urban parks, a place to hang, to relax: a spot to watch the streetcars sail along Queen and Dundas, past speckled trees and white gates.

The image above is a poster by Jack Dylan

There is a distinct quality to a row of houses that sit directly on a park in a dense urban core. Though they do not differ at-all architecturally from their regular-street counterparts, it’s the very situation of these houses that creates feelings of fleeting breeziness, of opportunity. These houses are concrete openness.

The houses open to Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto

Concrete openness toward Parc Jeanne Mance, in Montreal

Openness in Halifax, at the Windsor Parkette, just west of the Common