Category Archives: Beautification

Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden Celebrates International Downtown Award

On Friday, May 17th, the Roncesvalles Village BIA and the Friends of Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden celebrated an Award of Excellence for Public Space Improvements received from the International Downtown Association (IDA) for the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace  Garden (DRPG) . This Award is particularly significant because the IDA values collaboration. In its realization, this project galvanized the support of many community groups, the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation,  artists from both communities, and the City of Toronto. The project features heritage recognition, green street gardening,, community welcoming, pollinator habitat development, and acts as a living dedication of renewed relations between our community and Toronto’s indigenous people.

The IDA is a world leader in taking up the challenge of revitalizing downtowns around the world, from the USA, Canada, Europe and further around the globe, by encouraging best practices, and broad-based learning. It recognizes that innovative and effective renewals absolutely need cooperation between multiple interests, to promote good works. This was the only project given an Award of Excellence for improvements to public space, from the IDA in Canada for 2018. A copy of the plaque for the IDA Award was conferred upon the City.

PLANT Architect, and, the group of officials who helped bring the project to life attended, and were thanked for working so well with our community.

Part of the outdoor ceremony involved sharing with a representative of the Mississaugas of the Credit, with whom we exchanged sacred tobacco seeds, and planted sage — this year’s featured indigenous plant at the Peace Garden.

In our neighbourhood, the search to better understand our living history of Indigenous habitation, loss, and dispossession, starts with the Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden. This Peace Garden is dedicated to seeking better relationships between our peoples, and with the land, which desperately need healing.  Our intentions are embedded in this little plot of living green, restful, revitalized public space.

A class of grade 7 students who participated in our annual Tulips for Peace program, attended to see the beauty of the tulips they planted last fall.

New Mural at Garden and Roncesvalles Nearing Completion

For the last four month, during a record heat wave followed by a week of rain, we have watched the creation of a new mural on a large 24 foot by 106 foot wall at the corner of Garden and Roncesvalles Avenue. Locals, visitors and users of the bordering Bike Share Station have seen the brightly coloured elements and symbols emerging amidst scaffolds and tents, accompanied by buskers and a growing contingent of sparrows and fellow urban creatures. Local mural artist Jim Thierry Bravo has completed his portion. Lead artist Philip Cote and his assistant Nelly Torossian continue to work hard to complete the remaining third of the mural, encouraged by the positive response of enthusiastic onlookers.

Official Launch and Ribbon Cutting for New Mural at Garden & Roncesvalles Avenue

Artists Philip Cote & Jim Thierry Bravo will be present

WHEN: Sat., Oct. 20, 2018 from 11:00 am to 12 noon
WHERE: 149 Roncesvalles Avenue, Toronto

Join us and share the event on  Facebook.

Woodland Style fish and moose by mural artist Philip Cote.

Detail of 8th Fire Mural in progress at Garden and Roncesvalles by lead artist Philip Cote and local artist Jim Thierry Bravo. This section accounts for 1/15th of the wall.

The design concept of the mural reflects the thematic framework set out by our BIA’s Street Advisory Committee. These themes include: Nature in the City, the Urban Community, and the interconnected concepts of Legacy, Sustainability and Stewardship.

We have stories of prophets who came to the people a millennium ago to give visions of the future that would come in stages called the Seven Fires. In recent times there has been a talk of an Eighth Fire in which the ancestor prophets say that to light the Eighth Fire Indigenous People will come forward with their knowledge connecting with the western knowledge and from this union a new people will emerge lighting the Eighth and final Fire. This will begin the golden age of peace.

My work reflects this same importance of sharing the story of ancient Anishinaabe footsteps that crossed Roncesvalles in days gone by. It’s inspiring to know that we the Anishinaabe Peoples are still here sharing stories/oral histories much as our ancestors did for thousands of years and thus bringing the values of our culture into the present day …

~ Philip Cote

Learn more at roncesvallesvillage.ca/8thfire.

 

 

Mural Painting Underway at Garden and Roncesvalles

In partnership with StreetARToronto, we commissioned artists Philip Cote and Jim Thierry Bravo to collaborate on a mural for Roncesvalles Village.  In the cool hours of the day, you’ll find them painting the wall on the north east side of Roncesvalles and Garden Ave. They will work through July until finished. The official launch will be on October 20, 2018. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the work in progress.

Artist seated in front of white brick wall that features animal spirits painted in the Woodland style.

In the twilight, Philip Cote adds finishing touches on the bear at 149 Roncesvalles Avenue.

Cote and Bravo’s design concept reflects the thematic framework set out by the RVBIA’s StreetArt Advisory Committee. These themes include: Nature in the City, the Urban Community, and the interconnected concepts of Legacy, Sustainability and Stewardship. Their collaboration also draws on some of the insights gleaned from several community consultations. These affirmed that the people of Roncesvalles love being so close to High Park and Lake Ontario. They cherish all the trees and the gardens that make this a healthy and lovely place to live. Locals and visitors alike appreciate the sense of community, the village vibe, and tender loving care you can feel here.

Cote and Bravo bring together the sensibilities of a First Nations artist with those of a first generation Canadian artist. Bravo’s family immigrated to Canada in 1985 and settled in Toronto when he was young. Both have lived on Roncesvalles Avenue and are well known mural artists in this City. They have witnessed how the neighbourhood has changed in the past 30 years.

For example, Roncesvalles Village has much fewer Polish residents and businesses than it once did, but many people of Polish heritage enjoy celebrating their cultural roots here. In fact, our BIA still runs the two-day Roncesvalles Polish Festival each September. “The demographics of urban neighborhoods can change rapidly,” says RVBIA Chair Len McAuley, “so we must find ways to celebrate the culture of the new community of residents and businesses that have settled here more recently. Likewise, it is time to acknowledge that for thousands of years before the arrival of the British, Irish and Scottish to this area that is now called Roncesvalles Village, there thrived indigenous people whose tribes made up the First Nations.” These included the Anishinaabek, Wendat, Mississauga and and Haudenosaunee, among others before them. “Their shared ethos was—and still is— to serve as stewards of the land for future generations. Their stories reflect this.”

“People around the world have become more aware of the environmental impact of industrial waste and careless human lifestyles,” says RVBIA Manager, Veronica Feihl. “And, consequently of our responsibility to protect the air, water and soil along with nature’s rich variety of plants and animals that form healthy ecosystems. Not just for our own sake but for our descendants,” she adds. “So there is something to be learned from the First Peoples who lived on this land for ages before the newcomers arrived. Here’s an opportunity to look and listen, while enjoying some time in the neighbourhood.”

The BIA will provide online video and audio clips of the work in progress and hopes to share some of the stories and meaning behind the symbols on this mural.

PHILIP COTE ARTIST STATEMENT

The vision of my work starts with a journey into Indigenous history of this land that dates back 130,000 years and maybe even 200,000 years. The first humans in North America we call the Original People also known as the Anishinaabe “From whence lowered the original man”.

On the design of this mural we have first man and woman taking that first journey across the land and in communion with all life as displayed here by the animals, plants and the Anishinaabe Spirit World.

The design is deeply connected to the creation story of the Anishinaabe as this design with all its black lines speak about the beginning of the universe. In the beginning there was a great black void and in that void there was a spirit who sent out thoughts into the Universe. When no response happened, those thoughts were called back, and the creator said create light as you come back to me. Thus all the stars were born and from them planets were formed.  At the moment we have light and dark in the Universe, for Anishinaabe people believe we are all made of light and dark physical and spirit.

The painted imagery is in the style of woodland painting first created by Norval Morrisseau, an Anishinaabe artist and visionary his work brought the Anishinaabe (first people’s) world into public space in the 1960s. Norval had a deep understanding of the history of the Anishinaabe and created such a stir in the western culture at that time — and in his own community, which was upset that he shared those secret stories with the outsiders. His work describes the culture and mystery of the Anishinaabe people that gives everyone a clearer understanding of who these first people really are.

We have stories of prophets who came to the people a millennium ago to give visions of the future that would come in stages called the Seven Fires. In recent times there has been talk of an Eighth Fire in which the ancestor prophets say that to light the Eighth Fire Indigenous People will come forward with their knowledge connecting with the western knowledge and from this union a new people will emerge, lighting the Eighth and final Fire. This will begin the golden age of peace.

My work reflects this same importance of sharing the story of ancient Anishinaabe footsteps that crossed Roncesvalles in days gone by. It’s inspiring to know that we the Anishinaabe Peoples are still here sharing stories/oral histories much as our ancestors did for thousands of years and thus bringing the values of our culture into the present day and breaking down the stereotypes and racism that still prevails today. I am happy to be part of these changes in our country called Canada.

JIM BRAVO ARTIST STATEMENT

I have been given a great and honorable artistic challenge.  Artistic collaborations are a delicate dance of two visions. My vision for this design comes, I hope, as a sensitive and complimentary response to Mr. Cote’s narrative on the First and Founding Peoples of this region of our City/Province, etc.  Through an interplay of bold, highly stylized and graphic illustration (as a method through which to correspond with Cote’s Woodlands approach) I have chosen to present a take on what I feel are the three founding attributes of what is at present known as Ward 14/Parkdale-High Park. These three attributes are the waterfront, the long-standing local architecture which has witnessed the coming and going of many different settlers, and the wide natural array of trees, flowers and plant life.  The arrangement of the word “Roncesvalles” is designed to invoke a feeling of movement, change, development, space and inclusion, but ultimately that something is about to eventually settle down – only to be carried off again through progress, symbolized by the land rising out of the water.  I have decorated the word with flowers and plants found in the area and it is these swooping components that propel the word — and thus the community — into the present day. On close inspection various “umbilical” lines stemming to and from the text are placed as connection portals to Mr. Cote’s surrounding narrative.

Philip Cote’s works and CV can be viewed at: www.tecumsehcollective.wixsite.com/philipcote

Jim Thierry Bravo’s works and CV can be viewed at: www.JimBravopaintings.weebly.com

DRAFT DESIGN CONCEPT

The word Roncesvalles is written in staggered letters intertwined with floral elements.. It sits above images of indigenous animal spirits.

Version 2 includes an aqua background and ochre sky.

This design concept by Philip Cote and Jim Thierry Bravo is close to final. There are a few more changes to come including to the lettering of “RONCESVALLES” and the plants and foliage that are intertwined; removal of the blue waves above the moose and buffalo; addition of a forested landmass rising on the right side and some additional details. The final changes will be made directly on the mural. There are seven windows and two doors in the wall to work around. The pharmacy window on the left painted by a previous artist will be retained at the request of the business owners.

Meet Carol Holland

RoncyWorks Green Team Profiles

Carol Holland has been gardening with RoncyWorks for 5 years. She maintains three gardens located at 465, 392 and 319 Roncesvalles. In addition, Carol regularly monitors the gardens on the street, tending to them as she goes along. She is quick to help other gardeners who need advice or an extra hand. The RoncyWorks team refer to Carol as an unsung hero and their Garden Angel. We appreciate her dedication immensely.

Carol’s Bed by Roncesvalles Convenience

Carol’s appreciation of Roncy’s sidewalk gardens is what enticed her to garden with RoncyWorks. “I originally saw a sign in a store window that Roncyworks was looking for volunteers,” said Carol. “I had always admired the gardens on the street and I wanted to help.”

In addition to the gardens, Carol has enjoyed working with her fellow RoncyWorks Green Team members. “I find the other volunteers very inspiring. We have a group of very interesting, and knowledgeable people who really care about the street.”

Carol Holland

Before joining RoncyWorks, gardening had been apart of Carol’s life for many years. “I started gardening with my mother when I lived in our family home. When I bought my first home,
I created a garden in my empty yard.”  With all her experience, Carol shares her expertise with other gardeners, as they do with her. “Since starting, I’ve continued to learn from the other volunteers in the Green Team.”

Thank you Carol for beautifying Roncesvalles!

Meet Jackie Taschereau

RoncyWorks Green Team Profiles

Jackie Taschereau has been volunteering with RoncyWorks since 2011. She maintains the gardens at 233 and 223 Roncesvalles.

Jackie’s Garden at 233 Roncy

Jackie often refers to her involvement with RoncyWorks as gardening in the “Public Realm” and for good reason. There are many lessons she’s learnt from maintaining a sidewalk garden, including how the physical design of the bed impacts how the public interacts with it. “The slightly raised edge of a planter bed is an irresistible challenge to small children, demanding to be walked along to prove balance skills. This is preceded and followed by hopping on and off the bench.”

Jackie’s Garden at 223 Roncy

Another challenge of Jackie’s and her RoncyWorks volunteers is protecting the gardens from doubling as urban landfills. “Probably as much time is spent picking up garbage as is actually spent on gardening”. The litter Jackie and other gardeners deal far too often includes “cigarette butts and packs, coffee cups, food containers and remains, wrappers, soda cans and plastic bottles.”

Despite these setbacks, Jackie has found the benefits of tending to sidewalk gardens enriching in many ways. “I now have far better knowledge of tough plants that will survive in shade or partial shade”. Another “unforeseen benefit” of gardening has been meeting people from all walks and a newfound understanding of the importance of public gardens to communities. “I’ve got to talk to all sorts of people on the street, whom I would never otherwise have had conservations with,” said Jackie. “I find myself looking at public plantings all over the city, noticing what works and where there are problems.”