Summer-in-Winter by the Lake

1 February 2014 — Happy February! Mild here, hovering at zero, and snowing, and the perfect day to visit lakefront examples of summer-in-winter.

I mean: Sherbourne Common, at the foot of Sherbourne St. (no kidding!); and Sugar Beach, named for the still-active Redpath Refineries, flanking this beach at the foot of Jarvis. Both parks are very high-concept, very urban and, in design terms, very focused on summer. Which makes them a tad surreal in winter.

Sherbourne Common looking south

See what I mean? I’m plonked at Lakeshore Blvd. E., the north end of Sherbourne Common, looking south to Lake Ontario (down there in the white-out). In summer those towering arms spill treated stormwater down the metal curtains into a great curving pathway to the lake, aerating it as it goes. In summer, it’s a joyous, impressive (and socially useful!) sight.

Mid-winter they are ghost towers, still impressive, but quietly awaiting their season of service.

As are these benches…

Sherbourne Common, benches & grasses

It’s a wonderful play area for children in summer, from here south to the lake, a brilliant combination of family fun and environmental function. Now it’s still wonderful to look at, but not exactly action-filled.

swings in Sherbourne Common

So I’m working up to a tsk-tsk kind of moment, as I cross Queens Quay East and enter the south portion of the Common. Beautiful but useless, half the year!

Then I see this.

I raise the camera to show how the summer-time water course is snow-clogged in winter, then realize there is a jacket draped on one edge of the snowy pond. And then… ah!… it’s a child.

the Not-Dead Child, by the pond turned skating rink

No resemblance here to the luckless parrot in the Monty Python Norwegian Blue skit. This is not a Dead Child. This child’s skates have not been nailed to the pond-edge railing. This is a Resting Child. A Tuckered-Out Child.  A child soon prodded vertical again by a loving, laughing, but determined father.

Oh good, oh yes, the Common is also used in winter.

They move off; I move on to the south side of the little building, and then look back, admiring (as I always do) the curves of the water course. Even when draped in snow.

water course in Sherbourne Common, looking north from lake

I’m now lakeside, walking a very pretty path I know from summer, when it is alive with colour and action, buildings and people, and little boats in the lake.

Nothing like that now. But this, I decide, is even better.

path along Toronto Harbour, looking west to Sugar Beach

Even more striking now than in the bright certainties of summer. La Grande Allée d’Hiver.

To my left (I’m heading west), Toronto Harbour, with the Toronto islands as backdrop. Which I only know because I know it; there is no visual evidence, only pure white.

To my right, the World’s Happiest Dog.

fetch! again! World's Happiest Dog

His owner repeatedly flings the ball. WHD repeatedly bounds across the field, snuffles into the snow, and retrieves the ball.

The pure white on my lakeside left is punctuated by rescue ladders & rings: a sudden punch of red. And, in this case, by a thin crack slicing through the snow and ice on the harbour.

rescue equipment, lakeside

“No swimming,” cautions the sign.

My grande allée is now populated. One coat white, the other red; the couple hold hands as they stomp along. (I’d say ‘stride,’ so much more graceful, but really the best you can hope for, in this wet snow, is a shuffle-stomp.)

red & white & snow all over

They’re headed, as am I, for Sugar Beach, with its sugar refinery as backdrop, and huge Muskoka chairs and bright beach umbrellas all year ’round. Yes! Even now! Like this.

snow on Sugar Beach

A voice behind me says, “You hop on out there onto the ice. We’ll take your picture…” I turn; the man, his wife and I, we all laugh. It’s not only the dogs who are having a good, goofy time of it down here.

Even so, I decline the offer. Thank you, think I’ll pivot northward and take another land image instead…

Sugar Beach

It’s so silly. It’s wonderful. I love it.

And then I leave it, cross Queens Quay E., and start up Jarvis St.

Queens Quay E & Lower Jarvis

I’m back in the city.

Leave a comment


  1. I really enjoy seeing the city through your blog – it gives me a whole new appreciation – thanks!

  2. Wow, thanks so much for taking me on a walk through winter! What a great post. and I particularly love love love the pink umbrellas!! ~SueBee

    • I know, those umbrellas get me every time… another of these high-concept downtown beach parks, just a bit to the west, has companion umbrellas in sunshine yellow

  3. awesome………… I love the black and white effect that snow creates.

  4. Really enjoyed these photos especially those with some red content. The trees and walk and benches and red sunshades in another amazing
    Would like some snow here instead of rain! Found it especially interesting as I have a friend who lives near Lake Ontario

  5. Mike

     /  25 February 2014

    Another excellent article Penny. The wall in that last pic is full of some really amazing pieces by some world renowned artists. The piece on the far right side says ‘Art Child’. The big purple one that runs across the top says ‘Kwest’. The three pieces on the bottom from left to read are by ‘Pun’, ‘Skam’ and ‘Kems’. These were done during a festival type event and these artists, most of them GTA based, have commissioned pieces all over the world…very cool stuff, glad to see your interest growing.


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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

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