Douglas Coupland's downtown park honours Canadian icons

It will probably always be known as the park with the big red canoe.

It will probably always be known as the park with the big red canoe.

But the new $8-million downtown green space, designed by Vancouver artist and writer Douglas Coupland and still to be named, alludes to many classic Canadian icons — including a mini beaver dam, giant multicoloured navigational buoys complete with water jets, and a pathway called the Terry Fox Miracle Mile.

A contest is planned to name the park, but area Coun. Adam Vaughan said it’s already being referred to as the park with the red canoe.

The oversize canoe sticks out from a hill near the edge of the Gardiner Expressway, bringing nature to the big city.

“To me, what’s going to be interesting is the relationship people inside it have to the people driving by.

Are they going to wave? Are they going to be indifferent?” said Coupland, at yesterday’s opening ceremony at Concord CityPlace, in the heart of the old railway lands.

For Coupland, a special part of the park is the running perimeter — marked by red maple leaves — that measures out exactly one mile, in honour of one-legged runner Terry Fox who ran a daily marathon back in 1980 before his cancer returned and ended his quest to cross the country. Along the path are giant images of Fox memorabilia, from a lucky sock to running shorts.

His brother, Darrell, who was on hand yesterday, said the tribute was ideal given that Lake Shore Boulevard West is visible just to the south.

“That’s where Terry ran out of Toronto 29 years ago. This is a perfect location,” Fox said, adding he hopes residents will come often to complete Terry’s journey. “This wonderful piece celebrates my brother and honours the city of Toronto, the place where the run really gained momentum.”

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