On a Sunnyside Mourning

September 11, 2008

By Mike Landry
A vintage view of the Parkdale of yore.

A vintage view of the Parkdale of yore.

Home to the roller coaster with the “dippiest dips on of the continent,” Sunnyside Amusement Park was once Canada’s Coney Island. People would flock to Toronto’s then affluent Parkdale neighbourhood for its beach, restaurant and dancing.

Standing on the corner of Ronscavalles, King and Queen Street West with the noise from the Gardiner Expressway and the streetcar depot it’s hard to imagine Sunnyside ever existed. Torn down in 1955 to make room for the Gardiner Expressway, only the Sunnyside Pool and Bathing Pavilion and the Palais Royale buildings survive as relics. But one site-specific performance piece, On a Sunnyside Mourning looks to resurrect the park.

“The park stood as a beacon for the development of Toronto, and sadly no one really knows much about this park at all anymore. Mainly because no one ever goes down to the waterfront anymore,” says Laura Mendes, co-head of Toronto’s Labspace Studio and performance participant. “The Gardner hasn’t just severed our relation to the waterfront, it’s severed its history.”

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