If you’ve ever spent time at an artist residency or celebrated a loved one’s nuptials at Artscape Gibraltar Point, you know the magic of the Toronto Islands.
Just a 15-minute vintage ferry ride from downtown Toronto, Toronto Island Park, as it is also called, provides a quick retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Toronto Islands, car-free parkland maintained by Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, is an archipelago of 15 islands, interconnected by bridges and pathways set against the backdrop of the city skyline.
Now as the City of Toronto embarks on the development of the Toronto Island Park Master Plan, they are developing a new vision and action plan for the park’s future development. To kick off this envisioning process, they’ve launched the Island Stories campaign, a digital storytelling initiative that invites people from across the city to share their stories about the Toronto Islands and what the place means to them.
“Toronto Island Park is such an important place to so many Torontonians, and by sharing those stories we are contributing to a collective sense of the importance of the park to this city,” explains Daniel Fusca, Manager, Public Consultation for Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation.
“Stories are also about our lived experiences, which can contain very powerful insights about a place. Through this initiative, we hope to learn about what makes Toronto Island Park such a special place to so many people.”
A video story contribution by Caroline describes her sister’s 1930s-style garden party wedding at Artscape Gibraltar Point:
In a written story, sarah koekkoek, Winter Island Artist-in-Residence for February 2020, shared her experience of working on the Toronto Islands:
“I often find myself retreating to Toronto Island when feeling overwhelmed and in need to reestablish my connection with self. Particularly in winter months when the city rings stiff and the island hums like a molten dream. Ice formations decorate the shore line and snow gently naps on each branch. Dancing alongside this body of water is a healing act of reciprocity.”
Over the next month or so, Torontonians can share their own written story, a link to a YouTube video, photos, poems or artwork through the form at www.toronto.ca/islandstories. Or, they can also share their story using the hashtag #islandstories on social media.
With storyteller’s consent, the stories will be shared with the broader public online igniting a city-wide conversation about the island. The stories will also be incorporated into the overall research framework that will inform the development of the Master Plan and the future of the Toronto Islands.
Do you have a story to tell?