My introduction to Withrow Park was by nearly interrupting a wedding shoot. In doing so, I unknowingly also stumbled into the essence of this sizable park.
Entering the park from the south end at Carlaw Avenue, I immediately saw people tossing and hitting a baseball in the soccer field. As I ventured past the wedding party, the great slopes reminded me of the other parks in the east end – Riverdale Park East to the west and Greenwood Park further east. On its toboggan-friendly hills I saw people reading books and in the valley below, picnickers enjoying a late lunch.
Traveling around the side of the soccer field, I noticed a hockey rink, which I later (and delightfully so) discovered was the site of Toronto Maple Leafs outdoor practice a few years ago. North of the rink was the path-ridden, tree-covered portion of Withrow Park. If the area I came from was the subdued side of the park, this was the lively portion. Bicyclists, parents and children on family outings, and adolescent revelers took in the great afternoon. It made for a delightful stroll, and one which necessitated a return with company. It was also here where I re-affirmed how parks bring character to a neighbourhood and become focal points in how we build communities. Withrow Park does just that.
Withrow Park recently hosted a Shakespeare in the Ruff and continues to hold a Farmers Market every Saturday from now until late October. These tidbits capture the essence of this public arena: that it is a multi-acre park enjoyed by a multitude of people in a multitude of ways.
With this decade, Withrow Park celebrates on hundred years of serving the Riverdale community and the hoards of residents over the years. So beyond its many uses by many people in this lifetime, its sledding hills and skating opportunities seem to link multiple generations with one another.