(Image: Peter Andrew)
In 1967, amid the confetti and trumpets of Canada’s centennial celebrations, Toronto’s Dutch community made its own contribution to the festivities: 2,000 White Highland cedars, arranged in an orderly hedge maze on Centre Island and christened with a vigorous clog-dancing party. For decades, the maze enticed kids with its Wonderlandian whimsy, but years of neglect and a lack of sunlight eventually shrivelled the trees into dry brown kindling, and the city razed the patch in 2011. The following summer, William Meany, a wealthy Calgary businessman, brought a group of associates to the Island; he’d loved the maze as a kid and had spent the entire ferry ride hyping it up. When he saw it was gone, he called the city to get the story—and ended up offering $200,000 out of pocket to rebuild it from scratch. The new maze, set to open this month, consists of 1,300 black cedars planted by boy scouts and Toronto Islanders in a lush, twisting 15,000-square-foot labyrinth just west of the original location. It strikes that fairy-tale balance between shimmery magic and Gothic menace—challenging enough to be satisfying but solvable enough not to terrify school-agers. The deeper you get, the more it seems like you might never find your way out.