A Touch of Whimsy

I was looking in my photo library for something a bit different for this week’s Thursday Doors, and then I remembered this wonderful little find.

It was the day I went looking for the Cadbury chocolate factory.  I had taken public transit to avoid driving downtown on a Friday afternoon … life is too short to drive anywhere in Toronto on a Friday afternoon.  I took a walk from the subway through a park I had never heard of before.

Dufferin Grove Park is a pretty little green space, and based on the many people in the park on that hot afternoon, it is also a very popular meeting place.

A refreshment kiosk was located near a children’s playground, and what an interesting kiosk it was!  It’s called Cob In The Park, and its name derives from the mixture of sand, clay, and straw – known as “cob” or monolithic adobe – used as the building material.

Dufferin Grove Park6

In 2004, the Toronto Public Health department required that a proper washing station would be needed if a refreshment stand was going to operate here on a regular basis.  A local resident conceived the idea of the earthen courtyard and in 2005, armed with permissions from the City, she directed about 500 volunteers during the process of building the Cob.

Dufferin Grove Park4
I really wanted to move that board before I took the photo, but I didn’t want it to appear like I might be trying to break into that storage compartment

As if the mosaics covering the Cob weren’t pretty enough, rustic doors made from reclaimed wood and decorated with old pieces of cutlery were used to secure the various little cubbyholes used for storage.

Dufferin Grove Park2

Dufferin Grove Park3

Dufferin Grove Park
Complete with a rooftop garden – again, I really wanted to move that trolley!

I avoided taking any photos of the actual service area because of all the small children around.  I felt like people were throwing me enough distrustful looks while I attempted to surreptitiously grab a few photos, without appearing to include children in them.

Dufferin Grove Park5

Such are the challenges of a blogger with a camera.

Thursday Doors is a weekly photo feature hosted by Norm Frampton at Norm 2.0.


    • Thanks 🙂 I love the unusual things I find.

      I got the impression this was very much a community park and people tended to know/recognize each other. You can kind of tell when you’re the stranger in the crowd and I think that’s what I was picking up. It was like being in a small town in the middle of the city.


  1. Very cute building! If you are looking for more whimsey – have you seen the new fountain at the parkette on Front Street just west of Church and next to the Flatiron Building? It will make you smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How fun is that?! I’d love to see something like that be built…by volunteers of course, in one of the many parks we have here in St Charles County. Something to research…!
    I now find myself looking at doors when I’m out and about and thinking “this would be a good one for Joanne to use in one of her Thursday Doors posts!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a delightful structure, and the story behind its creation is wonderful!

    I am always talking myself out of taking certain shots, then regretting that decision later. I once asked a mother if I could take a picture of her little boy (his face wasn’t visible). At first she hesitated, then said yes. By then, it was too late… the moment had passed. Oh well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m the same. There’s always the shot I didn’t take but I wish I had.
      I do occasionally ask if I can take a photo. Sometimes they say ‘no’ – like a few weeks ago with a work crew in one of the parks. That’s ok – although I’m disappointed.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think that children might have once been able to climb on the structure, but from what I’ve read, it’s in need of some repairs and considered unsafe … not to mention potentially creating more damage.


  4. This looks like a place where Hobbits would hang out. I love this building, but especially the rooftop garden and the door adorned with eating utensils. So cute!

    I understand about wanting to move stuff out of the way for door photos and not wanting to take photos of children. It’s a hard row to hoe being a door disciple.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes I get a read on the environment that suggests I might want to keep a really low profile. Other times I’m more confident about taking risks. I have to trust my instincts.
      On that day, I was definitely playing under the radar!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a delightful lil place! 🙂 I’ve never seen anything like it. I love that it was built on a volunteer basis. The rustic doors really are charming.
    It’s awkward to get photos of things with kids around. I had that trouble when I was on campus this summer. There must have been about 200 small children playing some sort of game in the quad, so I ended up getting shots from street sides of the buildings, mostly.
    Anyway, great find, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very cool. I wasn’t sensitive to taking pictures with kids in the background. I’m thinking of Disney World and other places where I have tons of pictures of strangers (they wouldn’t leave so I could take a picture of my subject!). Now I know.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is so cute, Joanne! I know what you mean about taking photos of kids. I once was taking photos of kids fishing off a pier where my husband was also fishing. One of the kids walked over to me and asked why I was taking his picture. I stopped right then and there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad to hear when kids are savvy enough to question the behaviour of strangers. Unfortunately, some adults can get very belligerent and confrontational if they think you’re doing something wrong – even if you’re not.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a fun looking place. Getting looks from strangers is not uncommon when taking pics in public especially if kids are around – understandable too.
    You did a good job of getting your shots and keeping folks out of them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know the one thing that seemed to be missing? … tables and chairs. You’re right – it would be a perfect spot to lounge for a while.
      All the people I saw were either standing around, sitting on the ground under trees, or had brought their own folding chairs.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Great find! About the kids – we were in Norway and my husband was taking pictures and there were 3 little girls playing outside. He took their picture, they all smiled big, and then one of them said “please don’t put that on Facebook!” Smart at a young age.

    Liked by 2 people

    • When I researched this structure, those were exactly the things that impressed me the most. Yes, it was really whimsical and a perfect addition to the park, but discovering how it was built by volunteers using repurposed materials that would have ended up in landfill definitely tipped the scale.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a wonderful discovery, Joanne! I live the fairy tale look to this place. It like you should expect cookies to magically appear.

    I’ve always felt that we should have the right to move stuff in order to get a better picture. But Norm is such a stickler with that “no bail” thing ;(

    Taking pictures around children is a problem. I have a friend who works at a school where they banned smart phones because there are several students whose whereabouts are not to be share with one parent. You never know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A few years ago I was royally chewed out by a journalist at the site of a road closure where all the local media outlets were on site covering the story.
      He assumed I had taken photos of him, and it didn’t seem to matter that I was offering to show him my photos to demonstrated I hadn’t.
      That incident proved to me that it doesn’t seem to matter what you’re really doing, it’s what people “perceive” you’re doing that really matters.
      I hate confrontation and now I’m extra cautious about how my behaviour could be interpreted.

      Liked by 1 person

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