City of Toronto officially opens Dr. Lillian McGregor Park honouring Indigenous culture, community health and spirituality

2023 May 9

Today, the City of Toronto officially opened Dr. Lillian McGregor Park at 25 Wellesley St. W. in downtown Toronto.

The new 6,400 square metre park is named for Dr. Lillian McGregor of White Fish River First Nation. She was a celebrated and respected member of the Indigenous community.

Councillor Chris Moise (Toronto Centre) was joined by members of the McGregor family, Elder Sylvia Maracle and others who have helped make Dr. Lillian McGregor Park a reality to honour indigenous culture, community health and spirituality.

The new park, in the heart of the city, features a central gathering space for community events or performances with seating and art, a children’s playground and a flexible open lawn. Public art by Kenneth Lavallee recognizes regional Indigenous histories and cultures and honours themes important to Dr. McGregor, including health, spirituality and language.

Dr. McGregor (1924-2012) was a dedicated nurse and community leader widely recognized for promoting Indigenous culture and education. She received the City of Toronto Civic Award, the National Aboriginal Achievement Lifetime Award and the Order of Ontario. She was the first Indigenous woman to be awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Toronto while also the first Elder-in-Residence.

The park’s design is inspired by the crane, which is Dr. McGregor’s family clan sign, as well as the rock outcrops, water and reeds of her childhood home on Birch Island. The park creates a small natural refuge in downtown Toronto with artwork woven through the site and fully integrated with the landscape.

Artwork within the park includes:
• A family of cranes consisting of four separate bent aluminum sculptures perched on stone foundations. Each crane depicts a different stage of life according to the Medicine Wheel: Childhood, Youth, Adult and Elder.
• In the central gathering space, a mosaic medicine wheel is inlaid into the pavement at the convergence of the main park paths.
• Laser-cut aluminum reed screens spread throughout the park are painted a teal shade of green to mimic the tall reeds where cranes make their home.
• An abstracted feather acts as a canopy over the Wellesley Street entrance, providing shade and protection from the elements. The white feather is made of laser-cut powder-coated white aluminum and supported on thick steel tube quills.
More information on Dr. Lillian McGregor Park is available on the park’s webpage.