Many individuals led the way in organizing support for the creation of the Artscape Wychwood Barns park, among them two stand out.
One was Cookie Roscoe who, with the Friends of a New Park group, built a pizza oven from the bricks in the derelict industrial yard and then lit the fire in this hearth by organizing weekly make-your-own pizza nights. On several occasions she transported the oven by placing it brick by brick onto her pick-up truck and then re-assembling it in a local school where along with the pizza, she fed children and parents the vision of a new kind of park.
Cookie Roscoe also laid the groundwork for a farmers’ market by coordinating the Food Share ‘Good Food Box’ program in the neighbourhood. Having inspired us to love our local vegetables and using the front lawn of the church around the corner from the still-under-construction park, she organized a farmers market which, once it moved into The Stop’s Green Barn in the Artscape complex, became one of its cultural and financial cornerstones.
In the bitterest winter months beginning in the late 1990s the “Lord of the Rink,” as he became known locally, would emerge daily from his home beside the streetcar yard and turn his hose on a flat patch of ground. His intention was to re-incarnate the shinny rink depicted in a William James photograph that a neighbour had found in the municipal archives. Like the creation of the pizza oven, his repetitive task was both humble and monumental. We began to see this previously ignored space with new eyes.
The rink flushed us out of our houses to collect again and again beside the barns. In the process we began to understand the park as something we were making, not from tangible building materials but from our habitual gatherings. In the memorial that followed the Lord of the Rink’s death from cancer last summer his neighbours honoured his contribution to this essential aspect of the creation of our park.
The Lord of the Rink, as I had discovered when I met him in 2004 while skating with my children, was none other than Peter MacKendrick, artist, specialist in architectural restoration, and great grandnephew of William Gordon MacKendrick.
To read more go to Menu: “Paving the Way to Paradise…” Conclusion.