Grange Park is one of Toronto’s hidden gems. It’s surrounded by inspiring architectural sights—Frank Gehry’s AGO to the north, Will Alsop’s Sharp Centre for Design to the east—and it’s the end point of the John Street corridor, which leads down through the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district, all the way to Rogers Centre and the CN Tower. Even so, the park itself has never been particularly impressive. Owned by the AGO but operated by the city, the space consists of a couple hectares of grass, trees and benches. It’s a hangout for OCAD students and dog walkers.
On Thursday, the AGO announced that W. Galen Weston, food-industry magnate and father of Loblaws-commercial-guy-and-actual-Loblaw-executive Galen Weston, is donating an unspecified sum of money toward sprucing Grange Park up. “Grange Park has a cherished place in my family’s history,” Weston is quoted as saying in a press release. “It is just steps away from the original Weston Bakery where my grandfather lived and worked both baking and delivering the bread.”
The AGO says the money is being used to retain Greg Smallenberg, of Vancouver’s PFS Studio, to work up a landscape design for the park. Smallenberg’s firm is probably best known in Toronto for designing Sherbourne Common, a combination park/stormwater treatment facility at Sherbourne Street and Queens Quay East. That park is characterized by wide, grassy spaces interspersed with water features, a skating rink, a playground and a pavilion. The public won’t know what’s in store for the Grange until Smallenberg and the AGO start announcing details, but we can only hope the change ends up being for the better.