High Park hosts public art tour

Jun 19, 2023 | Arts

Toronto History Museums hosted its second annual Public Art in High Park Tour with staff and visitors urging more people to learn about and attend the event.

The Public Art in High Park Tour is held annually on the first two weekends of June from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

“This made me reflect, made me enjoy and also appreciate modern art more and how it interplays with nature,” said Eva Eggar who happened to stumble upon the tour right before it started.

“If I had come here without the tour, it would have been a regular walk in the park,” she said.

Eggar said the free tour was insightful and said it was a must for visitors to understand and appreciate Toronto’s history.

Susan Fohr, acting museum coordinator developed the guided tour originally to accompany the Toronto Biennial. That then turned into an annual tour for Torontonians to learn about the history of the art sculptures within High Park.

However, attendance was an issue.

Event organizers said on Saturday there were only 10 attendees, and on Sunday only four, two of whom just happened to stumble upon the tour right before it started.

There were also many other events that occurred this weekend, including Toronto’s kick-off the summer festival, Do West Fest. Which could have contributed to the low turn out.

Bruce Beaton, the museum programs officer said he encourages Torontonians to express their curiosity to support more museum programs and events.

“In the museum world we thrive on your curiosity. Anything that you’re curious about is something we’re curious about. We love that,” he said.

The tour, exploring Toronto’s diversity and culture as well as the history of High Park, focused on seven art sculptures in the park.

Among the works of art were the Wind Oracle sculpture created by Eduardo Navarro for the Toronto Biennial, the Portuguese Monument, and a sculpture of the Ukrainian poet and playwright Lesya Ukrainka.

As well, there were three sculptures from Sculpture Hill: The Hippy, Three Discs and the Temple.

The tour ended with an unfinished sculpture by Toronto artist, Irving Burman, who was unable to complete his sculpture due to mental health issues.

Beaton encouraged attendees to reflect on each piece and what it meant to them.

“My tours are different,” he said.

“I’m more interested in what people feel about things, what do you think about this, does it add to your experience.”

Visitors who met at Colborne Lodge Museum in the park were told of the Toronto Purchase of 1805 from Indigenous peoples, also known as Treaty 13.

The tour also covered the Howard family who purchased the land in 1842. John Howard was an architect, painter and surveyor who came from Great Britain, his first job in Canada was as a drawing instructor at Upper Canada College.

He was given the job by John Colborne who was the top-ranking military official at the time, who Howard later named his house in High Park after.

Inside the Colborne Lodge Museum attendees were able to see the paintings created by Howard and his wife Jemima, medical tools and health advertisements used in the 1800s, and a map of High Park at the time the Howards owned it.