Thursday, 17 April 2014

Is there a real Gatepost Park? Toronto as depicted in YA fiction

Rusholme Street House, Toronto
I made an amazing discovery today. A space that I imagined in a book, an imagined space that never existed, left a magical imprint on a park bench. Which likely doesn't make much sense, so okay, I'll start at the beginning. I've written three books in the Lost Gargoyle series, which are all set in Toronto. Some of the descriptions of all three places are very real: the CN Tower, the Rogers Centre, the CNE grounds, the Riverdale Farm and Necropolis, all are true and actual places in Toronto. The magical action between the main characters and their gargoyle friends takes place in these real settings. There is also a house in my neighbourhood, which is very much like Christopher Canning's house that I describe in The Gargoyle at the Gates. The real house (on Rusholme Street) near me has a wraparound porch and turret bedroom, but it is not beside my imagined creation of Gatepost Park. In fact, Gatepost Park doesn't exist. Which is sad, because it would be beautiful, with a wrought iron fence, a seahorse fountain, and gorgeous gargoyles at the gate posts. I've looked, the park exists only in my imagination. 
Bench in Leslie Grove park: the gargoyles in my book
plant an apple tree in Gatepost Park
BUT, Gatepost Park is very loosely based on a once unloved park on Queen Street East, called Leslie Grove Park. I lived in Leslieville for several years in the 80s, and used to walk through this little neglected space and think how much it needed someone to care for it. Well, like Gatepost Park in my story, someone clearly does care for Leslie Grove Park these days, and now it's transformed. Look what someone painted on a bench there: "Green grass, green hanging leaves, whispering in the gentle breeze, a treasure hidden beneath the trees, a fallen apple."
This is lovely enough, but guess what my gargoyles plant in imaginary Gatepost Park? An apple tree. Those apples somehow made their appearance on the poetry on this Leslie Grove bench. Pure magic!

Grey is Gentle: a poem for poetry month

Grey is gentle

Grey is gentle, in between,
neither one, nor the other.
Not young, not old,
not frightened, nor bold.
This greying I welcome,
my edges will unform,
boundaries soften, too.
Like the wall I kept for you,
leaned against in sun,
in springtime, chasing the wind,
restless over its rocky width,
sheltered in the divide.
Time wears that wall thin,
a few rocks tumble low,
to these I stoop and slow.
Pilgrim! Clamber and breach,
in ash, rags or foolish skin,
worn silver and gentle, it’s true,
still drawn, sage and delighted, by you. 

PD, For my friends, all greying gracefully/Feb, 2013