Gage Park worthy of a celebration

Gage Park worthy of a celebration

If you have driven along Main Street East in Hamilton lately you will have surely noticed the remarkable regeneration of Gage Park. It is a fine example of a community master plan successfully executed. There are new greenhouses, an elegant entry plaza and restored flower beds along the main street perimeter. The jewel of the development, however is the complete restoration of the historic beaux-arts Gage Park Fountain to its original 1927 configuration, as well as the redevelopment of the fountain plaza.

All in all it is a truly glorious site. As has been written here before the park and the fountain provide a showcase for some of the most creative early figures in Canadian architecture, landscaping, design and sculpture—John Lyle, whose Union Station and Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto are iconic landmarks; Howard and Lorrie Dunnington-Grubb, pioneers in landscape architecture, Frances Loring and Florence Wyle sculptresses of the ducks and turtles on the fountain who later created the massive Lion obelisk that sits at the entry to Toronto on the QEW; and one of Canada’s earliest town planners, Noulan Cauchon who inspired park development across Canada and who, incidentally laid out an early version of Hamilton’s mountain access road system.

The person who assembled this talent pool and who fought for the park to be purchased in the first place was Hamilton’s Thomas Baker McQuesten—a man of rare vision when it came to the application of art to public works. All of which suggests that it might be appropriate to organize a suitable civic celebration or re-dedication of the park, as was done involving Governor- General Willingdon in 1927. Most of the restoration will be completed this year, so next spring or summer might be an appropriate time for such an occasion. A variety of events could be organized serving the purpose of focusing attention on a real jewel in Canadian parks but also to focus a younger generation on the rich heritage of Hamilton, and on the kind of selfless public service combined with extraordinary creativity that Gage Park still represents.