There are a few key moments that mark the arrival of warm weather in Toronto (the proper, here-to-stay kind, not the false February spring): the first major ferry line-ups, the May 2-4 weekend, and for many people, the return of the garden car in Kensington Market.
This year’s installation will be a little different though: the iconic white car with the smiley-faced flowers, having served the community cheerfully for six summers, has been retired. In its place, a whole new ride.
“We made the original one in June 2006 and it’s been out there and overwintered since then—it was a little rough around the edges,” explains Kensington Market BIA coordinator Yvonne Bambrick. They still have the original car, she told us, and the BIA is “looking for a place for it to retire.”
In its stead on Augusta this year will be a successor, a 2001 sedan that the BIA purchased with the help of a 50 per cent discount from Standard Auto Wreckers.
Still in the beginning stages of its transition, the new car won’t look at all like the photos above by the time it’s done. Some work began a few days ago: cutting out openings, putting in some filler materials to provide bulk without weight, laying down some tarps, and then filling the sections of the car with gravel and soil. The clover lawn’s already been seeded; plants will go in a little later on.
In keeping with tradition, the car will be getting a whole new paint job, too. The BIA successfully applied for a mural grant from the City of Toronto and has hired graffiti artists Adrian Hayles and Erin Zimmerman to paint the car with a mural that “reflects the culture and history of the market,” says Bambrick. They plan to begin painting at the end of this week, including some live painting during the first P.S. Kensington of the year this Sunday.
Happy summer, Kensington.
Photos of the new garden car in progress by Alex Pietrowski. Photo of the previous garden car by Yvonne Bambrick.