1933

Wentworth Park

Here is Wentworth Park and the children’s playground. The photograph, taken from the foot of Wentworth Street looking east, shows the vacant spaces of the former Glendenning field now occupied by the Curling Rink and the Woodlawn Dairy plant. At the extreme right is the edge of the outdoor rink set up after the Marks-Cross Arena burned down in 1933. The Dartmouth Lumber Company building fronting Canal Street has since been moved farther south to make room for the Dominion Stores building and parking lots. Among the trees on the upper slope Of the background are the towers of Hawthorne School. On the waters of the Canal may be seen a dory-load of youngsters, and a few boys paddling on homemade rafts. The one farthest left, supports Billy Webber and his little white dog seated at the stern. On hot days in summer there were often a hundred children frolicking in the salty water downstream where the older boys would dive from the railway trestle at high tide, or hop along the rows of logs.

During the holidays there was always a regatta with a varied program of rowing, log-rolling, paddling, swimming and diving contests arranged to suit all ages. The boys and girls cheerfully cooperated by soliciting small articles for prizes from merchants, and by selling regatta programs at a small fee. The proceeds went into a fund to build a cribwork across the Canal at South Street. Men and women of the neighborhood lent their efforts and arranged the details.

Later, much of the work was done on a reciprocal basis with the children. Those who worked for a certain length of time were permitted to paddle on the rafts for double that time. Seldom did a youngster work longer than t§n minutes. Labor was never enforced. My usual method with juveniles was to apply the Tom Sawyer psychology. The mere suggestion that the pickaxe, or the shovel, was too heavy for a boy handle, generally resulted in his pleading for the job. By this artifice many of the sturdy trees now flourishing ail the way from Wentworth to Dundas Street, were set out as young saplings.

Another effective practice at Wentworth Park was to bestow every tree, bush, shrub, even a single dahlia plant, upon a particular boy or girl who assumed responsibility for its cares. It was surprising and amusing to hear one youngster reprimand another for meddling with “my flower bed”. Under such constant surveillance, the vegetation thrived.

In winter, the Wentworth Park space is used by children to play with their sleds, or to make snowmen. The area is limited, but larger than most backyards. The grown-ups coast down the steep bank of the Canal, taking a chance on the open water below. Ice in the stream makes a good skating surface if the weather keeps consistently cold. Otherwise, it is ruined by tidal movements. Had funds been available our intention was to erect a four-foot height of concrete wall across the cribwork at South Street, so as to preserve a certain depth of water at all times for boating in summer and for skating in winter.