Park Watch

16 x 16 Acrylic on Canvas

February 2017

“For over fifteen years, I have spent every Sunday, adorned in a yellow park watch vest, as a host to visitors to High Park. On the rare occasion, we do encounter difficult situations. In general, however, we enjoy our contact with the public. From a personal perspective, I have grown very fond of the actions of the children and the questions they ask.

The first indication of a barrage of questions is the shy little voice behind you that you can’t quite catch. An adult voice follows: “Ask that gentleman in the yellow vest”. Presumably Billie agrees, followed by a tug on your pant leg.

“Mister, did you catch the crocodile?” A Cayman was abandoned in Cat Fish Pond adjacent to High Park. This received a great deal of publicity and encouraged several youngsters to ask this type of question.

“Will I be attacked by the beaver’s ugly brothers? [capybaras]” Once again, publicity over the escaped animals was prevalent. The kids, seeing pictures, thought Bonnie and Clyde were beavers. Similar comments were heard when a peacock toured the neighbourhood.

“Why did you burn down the castle?” [Jamie Bell Playground] The playground was off limits for several weeks from the action of an arsonist. Several local children were frequent visitors to the playground. Our “official looking” vests encouraged the questions, although not stated in the most diplomatic manner.

“Mommy and Daddy losted me. Can you find them and tell them I having fun?” Both the playground and zoo have shaded areas, a welcome relief to a parent keeping an eye on her child. They were not “losted” but taking a cooling break.

If you visit the park, may I encourage you to visit the zoo and watch the expressions of the children as they encounter the various animals. In the spring and summer when the llama pen is open, the expressions of delight, fear or astonishment on a little one’s face is one of the best free entertainment activities in Toronto.

And last, but not least, wander over to a T-ball game with the thought that the youngsters practicing controlled chaos will be our future leaders. Hint: a butterfly, moth, piece of grass or floating cloud may affect the outfielder’s ability to concentrate.”

Story by John Hardie

Find the hidden capybara and caiman in the painting! Check your answers here.


I don't want you to miss out on great stories and art! Sign up for monthly stories and art. 5% of every purchase supports Canadian parks.

You have successfully subscribed! Your coupon code will be emailed shortly!