The Dog Fountain of Berczy Park

Dear Readers, just around the corner from St Lawrence Market in Toronto there’s Berczy Park, a small green oasis in the midst of all the high-rises. With over 2000 canine visitors every day, it’s only fair that they should have their very own fountain, and here it is, designed by Montreal landscape architect Claude Cormier. Although there wasn’t any actual water today, it was still a rather whimsical sight, and I was amused to see several real-life dogs being rather taken aback by all the make-believe canines.

The design of the fountain is based on a studded dog collar, and all the dogs are looking upwards at a golden bone suspended in the centre. At ground level, the larger breeds look up from outside the fountain itself.

Inside the fountain is a circle of pugs, and at the higher levels there are a  variety of small breeds, some of whom are wearing blue and yellow dog coats in support of Ukraine.

Cats haven’t been forgotten either – one of the locals apparently complained that the fountain was very dog-centric, and so there is a single cat, who isn’t taking place in this bone-adoration and is instead looking at some ceramic chickadees perched on a nearby street light. How very feline to be completely aloof from all the doggy shenanigans.

The only cat…and what is she looking at?

This isn’t the only quirky feature in the park either. How about this trompe d’oeil mural? I love that the windows in the middle are real ones.

The mural is by the artist Derek Besant, and it was completed in September 1980 – Besant completed it after winning a competition to design a work of art for the site.


Then there are these hands emerging from the sward. They’re by Toronto artist Luis Jacob, and originally they had a cat’s cradle  of red rope between them, for children to play on. This seems to have disappeared, maybe as a result of the Covid requirement for social distancing. Still, I think that, as they’re right opposite the Centre for the Performing Arts they continue to have resonance, both as a representation of the hands of musicians and dancers, and also with their sense of reaching for the sky. And reaching for the sky is certainly something that Toronto is doing in spades, with more skyscrapers appearing every time we visit.

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