“Goose Poo or Good View. You decide.”
#5 in West End
1755 Beach Avenue
Before there were stadiums, before there were rock concerts, before there were even radios, people gathered at Alexandra Park to hear the music play.
They listened to music coming from Haywood Bandstand, that massive raised gazebo right in the middle of the park. When it was built in 1914, the park didn’t have nearly as many trees surrounding it, and the bandstand allowed musicians to play where people could listen and watch without having to be on the very crowded adjacent English Beach.
As time went on, the original grandeur of the West End faded; bandstands became less essential, and the gazebo was renamed for a securities company that helped fund its restoration in the 1980s.
It’s still a grand structure though, in a nice leafy park ideal for picnics. And in the last century, the trees surrounding the park have grown to where Alexandra is a little more walled off from English Beach, a shady little bit of serenity next to one of the busiest beaches in Canada. A drawback is the aforementioned goose poop, and the lack amenities for kids.
The bandstand is still the centrepiece though. There’s also a fountain dedicated to Joe Fortes — the Black pioneer and the city’s first lifeguard — at the edge of the park, next to Beach Avenue.
A park with plenty of history, in other words, and one that’s still not a bad place to catch a sunset today.