Berczy Park is one of my favourite places in downtown Toronto, and I’m sure I’m not alone. The park is just outside the financial district and light at the end of day streaks across the wide-open plaza, enveloping people sitting and strolling, and highlighting the amazing and innovative fountain at the centre of it all.
On a recent group photo walk with Tdot Shots, we wandered from the downtown financial district hub at Bay and King Streets toward the Gooderham building at Church St. and admittedly the stop in Berczy Park was probably the highlight for me.
I find if the sky is lacking clouds and interesting texture that the Gooderham site is not always rewarding. Many of my best photos there are either blazing sunsets or moody post-rain or snow scenes.
But Berczy Park is satisfying on its own, and regardless of the sky, on my last visit the sun was boldly illuminating the park, some of the illumination seeming to appear from reflections off office towers downtown. The shadows were long and the golden light worked magic around the dogs in the fountain and the dogs hanging out (with their owners) nearby.
St. Lawrence Neighbourhood, Gooderham Building and Berczy Park
It’s an incredible area of the city and so close to central transit hubs like Union Station. If you are already nearby on Front or King or Wellington streets, the iconic Gooderham building (also known as the Flatiron building) and Berczy Park make for a great concentrated stop in the heart of downtown east Toronto.
So how did this park come to be? This park was redesigned in 2017 (credit for the amazing design to Claude Cormier and Associates) and the updated version is absolutely stunning. It’s a playful fountain at the centre, with dog sculptures ringing the scene, a few of them even shooting spouts of water back into the fountain.
According to the Atlas Obscura website: “The cheery fountain is part of the park’s playful redesign by Unfortunately for the cat, the name of its breed isn’t said on the architect’s website, making it clear that this fountain really is for the dogs. The cat, which sits with a fearful expression on its face near a German Shepherd, also doesn’t partake in the water-spitting festivities. A few of the 27 dog breeds featured at the fountain are: Fox Terrier, St.Bernard, Dalmatian, West Highland Terrier, Great Dane, Jack Russell Terrier, St.Bernard, Giant Schnauzer, Golden Retriever, Beagle, Pug, and the Bernese Mountain Dog just to name a few. “
Admittedly, I never pay attention to the cat, but focus my eyes on the amazing interplay between the park visitors and the fountain. There is a really amazing dynamic at play here as residents and tourists mingle with the fountain and sculptures.
Mural on the Gooderham Building
It must be noted that the incredible mural on the back of the Gooderham building is also a perfect photo opportunity, not to mention place to sit, a stone’s throw from the Berczy park fountain.
From Wikipedia: “The Gooderham Building / Flatiron Mural by renowned Canadian artist Derek Michael Besant uses a trompe-l’œil effect to not only make the wall appear to have more windows than it does, but to also give it a more mobile effect by having its edges ‘fluttering’ away where they are not ‘tacked’ down. It is a picture of the Perkins Building, which is located directly across the street.”
In the photos I snapped recently I managed to get an angle with the amazing bright yellow flowers planted just below the mural. The entire base of the back of the building is a lush garden area with some seating and additional sculpture. Like Berczy, this spot inspires one to slow down, contemplate, and perhaps even pause to sit and take in the scene.
Resources and Links
There are many sources of information for Berczy Park in the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood of Toronto.
Photo Walks and Toronto Walking Tours
If you join Tdot Studio, the community site of Tdot Shots, you can register for seasonal photo walks. These meetups are a wonderful way to network with local photographers and get out to shoot some unique spots in the city.
You can hire Mike Simpson for a guided tour of downtown Toronto. I can show you many top notch photo spots and I love to talk about the architectural and cultural history of Toronto. Please shoot me an email if you want to get in touch. Cheers.