We had a perfect Sunday weather yesterday here in Toronto, so being inside was out of question. I decided to head down to the waterfront to enjoy the warm and sunny day. Since I heard recently that Canada Malting complex at the bottom of Bathurst St. was being demolished down there right now – mind you, the city is planning on preserving the silos as an industrial heritage site – I thought I should head in that direction to see the site before it is gone.
Well, I got there and I noticed a new memorial site in front of the silos. I must say that Toronto never seems to stop surprising me… as I have somehow missed the news about this place and actually never heard of it until yesterday! As it turns out it is called Toronto Irish Famine Memorial and the site itself is called now Ireland Park.
After digging a little for more information I found this interesting write up about the place:
Officially opened in the summer of 2007, Ireland Park commemorates the tens of thousands who fled Ireland during the Great Famine. In 1847 over 38,000 Irish men, women and children landed on the shores of Toronto, where Ireland Park now stands, fleeing famine and eager to start a new life. Although Toronto only had 20,000 inhabitants, the city welcomed the newcomers with open arms. Unfortunately over 1,100 new immigrants did not survive to make Canada their new home. Ireland Park is a tribute to all the Irish ancestors who came with only hope, for a new life in a promising country. (Source: Wikipedia)
So here is an amazing piece of history I did not know and I have learned yesterday… The park features a limestone wall with the names of those who died in 1847 and five moving bronze statues created by renowned Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie, here are some photos of those statues I took yesterday (you can click on the images to see the in a larger format):
The Jubilant Man
Woman On Ground
The Apprehensive Man
The Orphan Boy
All those statues are facing the city…
I must say those sculptures are really moving, the background of the old silos and the limestone wall make for a very dramatic backdrop. For more information, you can check out the Ireland Park Foundation web site here.