Coronation Park has been rededicated as a memorial to Canadian World War I veterans following extensive renovations.
The waterfront park was developed in the 1930’s to celebrate the coronation of King George VI but was later transformed into a living memorial of sorts for the troops who fought in the First World War.
The park’s initial design featured a single Royal Oak tree surrounded by a ring of silver maples in honour of King George’s 1936 coronation but Maple trees were also planted beyond the initial ring in memory of those lost in the First World War.
Each of those trees had a granite and brass marker placed under them which was inscribed with the name of a military unit, though in recent years some of those plaques fell into disrepair.
The renovations to the park include new pathways, new engraved markers and benches and new signage that will help members of the public find the trees that have been dedicated to a particular military unit.
A second phase of renovations, which won’t begin until 2019, will focus on the Maple groves themselves.
“I hope the rededication of this park is hopefully accompanied by a lot of Torontinians coming here and understanding the history of the park and understanding the sacrifice that was made by so many young Canadians at the time of the First World War,” Mayor John Tory said following a special ceremony to rededicate on Saturday morning. “We do lots of refurbishments of parks but rarely are we able to have something like this, which I think is appropriate given the importance of this park and all it represents.”
The rededication of Coronation Park comes ahead of the 100th anniversary of the armistice to end the First World War, which will be marked during Remembrance Day events tomorrow.
Speaking to attendees during the ceremony, Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell said that the restoration of the park will allow “its original intent to take root anew.”
“In these strange and uncertain times may the rededication of this park be recorded in history as our recommitment to all it symbolizes – commemoration of duty, courage, sacrifice and service,” she said.
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