Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A little more about our project

Thank-you to everyone who has responded already to dog parc gallery! We are really happy that word is getting out and that more people are contacting us to give us their feelings and thoughts about the park. If you haven't already received your dog's portrait, you will by the end of next weekend. For now, here is a bit more information about the park's history and our project.

Parc Gallery, photographed 11 September 2010,
photo: Thomas Strickland

Throughout the late nineteenth century, the parcel of land between Olier, Basin and du Séminaire streets was the site of various industrial activities, finally becoming the Ogdensburg Coal & Towing Co., with a street address of 17 rue du Séminaire. City fire insurance maps (called "Goad" maps) show, however, that at some point before the start of the second world war, the site in question had become a "playground."

Goad Map of 1918, revised in 1940.
Source: BANQ

This map fragment shows how close the playground was to St Anne's church, which was situated immediately north and west of the public green. According to heritage expert David Hanna, the playground (then called the "Basin Street Park") was unique in this part of Griffintown. He writes,

"The only community resource in the middle [of the neighbourhood] was the Basin Street Park, located between Basin and Olier Street, opposite the Basin # 1. This vast land has been set aside for team sports (hockey, baseball, lacrosse) Griffintown, thanks to the activism of the Irish community, following the demolition of a coal plant.”

[Source: David Hanna, Griffintown: Son Histoire et son Cadre Bâti. (Montréal: Ville de Montréal: Service de la mise en valeur du territoire et du patrimoine. November 2007) (translation by pouf!), 117.]

In our research so far, we have discovered that the playground was used at different times for baseball, soccer, hockey and even children's theatre performances. This photograph from Richard Burman's book, 20th Century Griffintown in Pictures, shows a baseball game being played in the Basin Street Park, with St Anne's rising in the background.

This picture, reproduced on page 118 of David Hanna's study of Griffintown, is dated as c. 1950.
For us, this history of activism and community involvement is an important part of what is today called Parc Gallery. This social aspect of Parc Gallery is very much appreciated by its present-day users, as well. As two of our participants, Kevin and Erin Hascup wrote, 

"Our family has enjoyed this dog park almost every day for the past two years, since we moved to the area. The park has helped us make friends in a new city and gave our older dog enjoyment at the end of his life." Montgomery, the Bernese Mountain dog who Kevin and Erin descript as their "newest addition", loves the park as a place "to socialize and burn off energy." 

Many park users we met on Saturday told us that the social value of the park is for humans and animals alike. One of our participants, Kathleen put it beautifully: "You meet people, socialize, connect with community and exercise. Having a dog in the city brings out the best of city life."

Parc Gallery shows this to be true!

dog parc gallery - in action!
Photo: Shauna Janssen

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