Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Rock

In Yorkville, in downtown Toronto, on the site of a small park area on Cumberland Street there is this great mound of bedrock that has been moved there from somewhere in Muskoka, huge pieces, one chunk at a time, and reassembled to create a wonderful natural climbing/sitting/playing area for city-dwellers and tourists to enjoy. It's called 'The Rock'. The entire installation weighs in at about 600 tons and reproduces an inspiring sample of the Canadian Shield for those who might never have lived there and seen outcroppings like this or have forgotten the powerful calming effect stone can have because they are have moved to the crazy concrete jungle . 

“We were thinking of the rock as being the focal point of the neighbourhood, and it happened to be just that. It’s like nature’s sculpture,” says David Oleson, the architect for the project.
The billion-year-old rocks were bought from a dairy farmer in Gravenhurst, Ont., for $15,000, who was happy to have more space to grow grass for his cows.
“It’s funny, I would get calls from people saying, ‘Hey, we got a rock in our backyard, want to buy it?’ We could have become rock brokers,” says Oleson, laughing.
Because the subway ran directly beneath the park, industrial engineers had to practise assembling the 120 granite pieces several times off-location. One false move and the massive chunks would have fallen onto the subway and injured or killed hundreds. Starting underground and building on the vertical structure of the subway, the pieces were held together using sand and gravel. The 650-ton structure cost the city $250,000.

Seeing a granite stone installation of this mass in an urban setting reminds me that natural beauty will always be Canada's most enduring attribute.

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