There was senseless destruction of much of the Beach Community Fireplace over the past week. The fireplace was designed by the award-winning Metis architect Douglas Cardinal, who famously designed the serpentine Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec and the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.
The curved Beach Community Fireplace opened on Woodbine Beach during the Winter Stations festival in February with Mayor Tory in attendance while the 82-year-old Cardinal sang and played a hand drum. It is constructed of cedar finished and charred according to the ancient Japanese technique of Shou-Sugi-Ban. This technique helps to preserve the wood, and makes it difficult to burn.
City of Toronto parks staff who maintain the east waterfront said the fireplace has been enjoyed and appreciated with respect from all citizens. The fireplace has become much beloved by families and school groups gathering there during the cold to enjoy a fire, or to roast hot dogs and get out of the wind.
However, under the cover of night, vandals ripped dozens of cedar boards off the fireplace wall, apparently to try to burn the wood.
The future of the Beach Community Fireplace will be discussed by City of Toronto parks officials, Ward 32 Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, Friends of the Beach Parks, Winter Stations organizers and the anonymous donor who paid for the design and construction of the fireplace.
In the interim, until the structure can be repaired and reinforced, the pyramidal metal fireplace has been locked to prevent further fires.
My hope is that heightened awareness of the Beach Community Fireplace will inspire people in the community to safeguard this iconic public gathering space for years to come.
Given the design significance of the fireplace and the joy that it has brought to so many people, the Friends of the Beach Parks is determined to find a way to restore the structure and make it resistant to vandalism in the future. Please join us in this effort.
Friends of the Beach Parks