With the immense volume of construction taking place in Toronto at any given time, the people of this city have grown quite familiar with the wooden walls that are installed around active construction sites, known as hoarding. We see it so often here that many of us have learned to overlook it completely, but what this suggests is that, in most cases, the reason we ignore it is because it’s simply not worth looking at. CreateTO is among those though who are thinking about hoarding differently, and has installed a panoramic art piece on the recently constructed hoarding wall at the Leslie Slip Lookout Park site. 

Hoarding wall at the Leslie Slip Lookout Park decorated with indigenous art installation, image courtesy of CreateTO

Designed by Indigenous artist Dani Kastelein-Longlade of design firm Brook McIlroy, the installation depicts scenes from a significant period in the history of the Anishinaabe people: the Great Migration. Thoroughly recounted in the oral histories of the Anishinaabeg, the migratory period lasted roughly 500 years, and brought the Anishnaabe population westward from their original homeland in the Atlantic northeast to start anew in the areas surrounding the Great Lakes.  

According to these oral histories, a series of prophecies collectively known as the Seven Fires bid the Anishinaabe people to migrate west, populating seven destinations that are known today as Montreal, Niagara Falls, the Detroit River, Manitoulin Island, Sault Ste. Marie, Spirit Island (Duluth), and Madelaine Island (Lake Superior). With a number of scenes that depict this mass migration and the establishment of new territories, the art installation celebrates this largely unknown period in the history of these lands while bringing a dynamic visual component to an otherwise barren construction site. 

The installation depicts scenes from the Great Anishinaabe Migration, image courtesy of CreateTO

The process of creating the installation was undertaken by Brook McIlroy. The design firm features an internal branch known as the Indigenous Design Studio, made up of a team of Indigenous designers who specialize in the integration of indigenous culture in contemporary place-making projects. The Studio has already been involved in the Leslie Slip Lookout Park design process to date, incorporating into the plans spaces like sharing circles, and procuring seeds from indigenous-run nurseries. The mural design, from team member Kastelein-Longlade, was the latest contribution from the Indigenous Design Studio, and one that has already made a positive impact on the appearance of the site. 

The installation was developed by Brook McIlroy's Indigenous Design Studio, image courtesy of CreateTO

Meanwhile, behind the hoarding, the CCxA-designed park has seen some notable progress in formation of the grassy ‘dunes’ that will populate the east side of the park. Pictured in the image below in February, we can see the rolling hills framing both sides of the pathway, while in the background, early framing work is underway for the lookout tower, a design contribution from gh3

Grass 'dunes' taking shape as construction work continues on the park, image by UT Forum contributor AlexBozikovic

More recently, an instagram post from gh3, another team member, shows how the lookout tower was coming along as of mid-May. From what we can see, the wood framing has now been engulfed by concrete. The image below pictures the chamfered base of what will eventually be a large cylindrical structure with an observation deck, mimicking the adjacent industrial buildings. 

Concrete forming of the lookout tower now underway, image from instagram @gh3architects

Work will continue throughout the summer, with a potential opening of the park targeted for late 2023. The hoarding will remain up until that time, after which it will be relocated to another location in the Port Lands (undetermined to date) where it will be displayed for another 18 months. 

Looking east to the design for the Leslie Slip Lookout Park, image from submission to City of Toronto

UrbanToronto will continue to follow progress on this development, but in the meantime, you can learn more about it from our Database file, linked below. If you'd like, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Related Companies:  CCxA, gh3, Greenloc Environmental Hoarding