25th Trillium Award

Gwendolyn MacEwen Park

 
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July 21, 2010, Gwendolyn MacEwen Park, a small island of grass and trees at the centre of Walmer Road Circle, one block north of Bloor Street West in Toronto, reopened in a memorial ceremony to erect a bronze bust of the late poet and author who spent most of her adult life living in the Annex area. The park originally opened in 1996, but members of the Annex Residents' Association spent the next fifteen years in consultation with the city of Toronto in an attempt to reimagine the space in a more fitting tribute to a creative genius. Finally, 19 years later, the park was reopened. "I think it's damn-well time," Margaret Atwood has said. "Artists and writers should be recognized in this country. We are so far behind."

Author and playwright Claudia Dey was on hand at the ceremony to read one of MacEwen's poems. Dey's play The Gwendolyn Poems, was nominated for the 2002 Governor General's Award and the Trillium Book Award. Also in attendance was Stan Bevington, founder of Coach House Books, MacEwen's sister, Carol Wilson and Virginia Dixon, a painter and one-time gallery owner, who, with the help of auctions, fundraisers and the support of Councillor Adam Vaughan, secured the funds to have a sculpture erected in MacEwen's honour.

"It's a marvelous tribute to [Gwendolyn]," says Carol Wilson. "It's a little park, but she knew it well. She was a great one for riding her bike around the area."

The sculpture itself was made by a good friend of MacEwen's, John McCombe (Mac) Reynolds who died in 1999. Interestingly, the sculpture that Reynolds had intended for the tribute was never completed. So the organizers received permission from Reynold's family to erect another bust in MacEwen's likeness completed by Reynolds in the 1970s. MacEwen was often the subject of Reynolds's work. The granite is inscribed with some of MacEwen's poetry:

But it is never over; nothing ends until we want it to.
Look, in shattered midnights,
On black ice under silver trees, we are still dancing, dancing.

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