The summer sun gives rise to never ending roadwork, otherwise known as holes we fill with money, and the fantastic hammock culture of Bannerman Park.
It’s important and worth noting that Bannerman Park is taken care of by only two very hard working gentlemen. In the past, the city would hire a small army of students to help in the summer months, today, zero.
All the trees, flowers, grass, trails, benches, garbage, washrooms, everything cared for and maintained by only two people. And yes that even includes the skating loop. I for one tip my cap to them, thank you Gents. That on its own is a very good reason to care for the park but not the best.
Tens of thousands flock to the park over the course of a year whether that’s to lindy hop your cares away or picnic with friends, to skate in the winter or learn to ride a bike on the summer. You’ve probably enjoyed a sweet hammock snooze swaying in the warm summer air, read a great book in that quiet corner by the fountain, or played a game of softball with work colleagues.
I’ve personally seen photo-shoots of all occasions, movies, documentaries, and music videos being created. I’ve been witness to jugglers and tightrope walkers learning new skills and to Hey Rosetta! launching a new single live in the park and broadcast around the globe by the CBC.
Bannerman park is the natural gathering spot at the end of the Pride Parade. It has been the home of the Folk music Festival since its inception in 1977 (except the year the park was being renovated). Also very good reasons to care for the park but still not the best.
The ultimate reason to care for the park requires some back story, just how did Bannerman gain such a prominent role in the life of Town? We need to go back before the park’s formation to the year 1846. This was a year of funny hats worn seriously, before the invention of the light bulb, and the year of the second major fire to devastate the city.
At this time, the land which comprises Bannerman Park was occupied by the Natives Society Hall, a botanical garden, and private land. After the city wide fire of 1846, over 10,000 people were made homeless overnight and many thousands of them found shelter on the land which would become Bannerman Park.
This was the first time that this piece of land had touched the lives of all ranks of society, this is where they rallied, where they drew strength and when a collective memory for this particular piece of ground was forged. It would not be forgotten.
In 1864 the land of Bannerman Park would be donated by Governor Alexander Bannerman creating the first public park in the province. Some of the park’s initial uses apart from a green lung, were two skating rinks and a hall for fancy dress balls, more silly hats.
In 1891, the city funded the design and development of the park as a formal Victorian Garden. In 1892, disaster struck. The Great Fire of 1892 was by far the largest city wide inferno and more than 11,000 people were made homeless in a matter of hours. Once more, Bannerman Park was the focal point for recovery, where thousands were sheltered, where we regrouped and rebuilt.
The number one reason to pick up your trash and place towels or blankets between hammock ropes and the trees, the number one reason to care for Bannerman Park is that it has always taken care of us.