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Toronto walk by the lake: around the Winter Stations

Updated: Feb 24, 2023


WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? This walk includes the annual winter event Winter Stations + a boardwalk + great street art.


Since 2015, art and colour have been beating the winter blahs at Woodbine Beach. Each year, I look forward to seeing what Winter Stations has in store for us. There’s time. The free temporary exhibition will go on until April 3.


The designers must incorporate one of Woodbine Beach lifeguard stations into their concept.

Anchored on lifeguard stations


This event is an international competition involving private and university-based architectural teams. The designers must incorporate one of the lifeguard stations located on Woodbine Beach into their concept. The winning projects we get to see at Woodbine Beach were awarded $2,000 and given $15,000 for materials and labour.


We saw seven installations on Woodbine Beach but when I looked on their website, I learned that there was an additional virtual installation. Didn’t know. It is located east of the (Home) installation. You have to download the WE[AR], AR Art Installation app from Ashari Architects Inc to enjoy it by scanning the QR code on a nearby sign.


Before and after


Most of the following photos were taken on the bright and sunny day of February 20, 2023. I returned on February 23... Quite a different experience! February is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you'll get. it's part of the fun of the Winter Stations. The experience is different every day and at different times of the day.





Conrad the Raccoon


Conrad, the giant raccoon was definitely a hit with family visitors. We do have a love/hate relationship with our unofficial mascot. (Very hard to dislike garbage vandals with such cute faces!)


This installation (kind of facing Kippendavie Avenue) is the work of Novak Djogo & Daniel Joshua Vanderhorst, inspired by the raccoon found dead on a Toronto sidewalk one morning in 2015. Since it took City staff more than 14 hours to dispose of the body, a vigil was spontaneously organized for the deceased, with the help of social media. Never a dull moment!


The next installation, a long red tunnel created by the WeatherstonBruer Associates team, was designed to allow visitors to roll balls through the chime-studded tunnel to generate a joyful sound. Unfortunately, when I visited on the first day, some idiots had blocked the circuit with pebbles...


Pavilion of canoes


The following installation is quite elegant, composed of structures evoking beautiful canoes, grouped to shelters us from the wind. The connections between the panels forming each alcove must be admired closely. This is the work of students from the Department of Architectural Science at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson).



The kids couldn't resist the illicit slide down the curved surface of the next installation, created by Mexican team S-AR.


Let there be light


Further on, the Winter-net installation is simple but evocative. The concept is the creation of students from the Department of Architecture at the University of Waterloo. As the month progresses, the creators anticipate that wind-blown snow and sand will become entangled in the nets and filter the light into ever-changing patterns. I’ll be back to check it out.


The next work, the (Home) by Toronto-based Scott Shields Architects, is stunning and from the comments I heard, a firm favourite with visitors. It's no accident that it looks like a church. The designers were inspired by the notion that our home is a sacred place, a perception that reinforced during the pandemic.



Each wall is made of a single slab of wood with names of Toronto neighbourhoods cut into it. The open spaces, clad in coloured plastic, were casting warm reflections on the sand on the sunny day, reminiscent of stained-glass windows.



The last installation looks like a lighthouse. A nice touch of colour to brighten up the rest of the winter. Its creators, Nick Green and Greig Pirrie from the United Kingdom, gave it the excellent name Delighthouse.


For a longer walk


From the first to the last installation, there are about 600 meters. To extend the walk, you can go beyond the Delighhouse to lovely Ashbridge's Bay, which a trail circles over 2 kms. Note that the boardwalk runs over 3 kms. East of the giant raccoon, you can stroll along the waterfront for 1.9 kms.


I’m including here a 3.8 kms loop that I like to do when in the area. It includes part of Woodbine Park and 500 metres of panels made by street artists along Lake Shore Blvd, west of the skate park. These were commissioned to represent a water theme, in reference to the nearby construction of the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant.







Past the panels, walk through the parking lot of the storage company to access Woodfield Rd and reach Eastern Avenue. Then turn right to stop at Rorschach Brewing Co (1001 Eastern Ave) for a flight of artisanal beers (they open at 12 noon).


Too early? Keep going eastbound on Eastern and turn left on Lower Coxwell to find the excellent Simple Coffee (1636 Queen Street East)




This post is a complement to local author Nathalie Prézeau's walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. You already own this book? Check Nathalie's WEEKLY WALKS calendar available on her site www.torontourbangems.com/calendar. It's free, easily printable by season, and it includes page references which should help you enjoy urban walks year-round.


Nathalie's guides are available in Toronto’s major bookstores, on torontourbangems.com/shop and amazon.ca or indigo.ca. We also deliver or contact the author directly at nathalie@torontourbangems.com to arrange for a pick up with a discount at 299 Booth Avenue, in Leslieville.



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