Tatlow Park Celebrates

Tatlow Park – Bridge close to Bike Path

WHEN ?            

Saturday, September 24, 2022           11:00 am – 3:00 pm

WHERE ?         Tatlow Park.    Directions

WHY ?              

I was fortunate for Tatlow Park to be a mainstay in my growing up and adult life.  This is a community celebration of the activities, stories and the learning we take away from life in a neighbourhood park.

WHO ?            Everyone is welcome!

WHAT ?            

Bring along a picnic lunch and your own cup for tea.

Bring along your neighbourhood park stories and the activity you like to do in the park.  To date there will be a bird watching station, a bike station, a book club meeting, A City Farmer station, some tennis players, some crib players, some Wild About Outdoor Learning Society, some B.C Literacy Association members and a station for you to record your story in print or on camera. 

There will be a prize draw for all those people contributing park activity ideas and stories to the book or online. #TatlowParkCelebrates

Grants Available for Community Building Events

This project is funded by Neighbourhood Small Grants in the West Side Vancouver area.  For more information, follow the link. 

How It All Started

Michael at City Farmer on the Arbutus Greenway inspired this event. He expressed how much the community needed some positive Tatlow Park stories after the tragedy of the past year. I wrote a blog post about my memories about Tatlow Park which resulted in the sharing of more stories. It got me thinking about how many other people have stories about Tatlow Park and their own childhood parks. Faith Greer, Community Service Coordinator, was instrumental in stepping me through the process of applying for a Neighbourhood Small Grant. The goal is to share and celebrate the happy  stories of this park and other neighbourhood parks to be available for all. Following is the original blog post.

What Defines a Neighbourhood Park?

Carrie Froese in “The Monkey Tree” – Safe Zone during games of tag and a good place to read

Many years ago in Buffalo, New York, I had time to kill while waiting for a bus to take me to Youngstown, Ohio to visit my step-grandparents.  I got on a city bus and got off at a local “park” that had ‘lake” in the name.  It turned out to be a relatively small gravel area with an extremely large puddle of muddy water in the middle, some trees on the perimeter, a set of swings, a bench and a surprising absence of birds.  I was shocked that this would be called a park.

Sunday dinners at my maternal grandparents’ house are some of my first memories.  My Mum had one brother, two sisters, and when tallied, there were ten grandchildren.  On Sundays, everyone was invited, in fact expected to come for dinner.  Friends, and neighbours were also welcome.  My grandmother was a good cook and lived by “throwing another potato in the pot” to stretch meals to accommodate anyone who would walk through the door.  Boards or perhaps old doors were put on top of the table, hidden under tablecloths, when there were not enough leaves in the table to accommodate the group.  TV tables were for delighted kids when more space was needed.  In a pinch, you’d just put your plate on your lap.  

Keenan Family dinners in Tatlow Park house 

Summer was the easiest to accommodate our rambunctious crew.  The baseball game of “scrub” was halted, and we’d picnic on blankets outside.  Then we’d be off to play in the massive “yard” that included climbing trees, monkey bars, swings, a stream with a pond surrounded by a rock wall, two wooden bridges over the stream, tennis courts, a path around the perimeter to roller skate or ride bikes and a diverse range of trees with prickles, red ants, and long whip branches.      Sometimes a blanket was set up and my cousins would share their large collection of comics while sucking on homemade popsicles.

Bill and Edna Keenan – Tatlow Park Caretakers – 1965 – 1976

Go play outside!” was the refrain of my Nanny, Grandpa, aunts and uncles.  

And when we did, we learned all about working together on collaborative projects, solving fights, making new friends, and noticing the animals, plants, and trees around us throughout the different seasons.  We learned that death is part of life and that respect was required to mark the occasion.  We reminded each other to never touch a dead thing with your hands.  Disease existed and you had to take care.  Strangers were potential friends but you always travelled in a pack for safety. We learned what rain smells like and the feeling of sun on your skin when you’re sitting quietly in a hiding spot.

We learned that risks need to be calculated.  Roller skating down the “big hill” at the end of the park took skill.  So did jumping to the rock in the pond or climbing the big trees.  We also learned to watch the direction of the wind carefully if you were going to fly a kite in the park and that a high tangle meant saying goodbye to the kite.   

We didn’t go outside to exercise and take care of our physical and mental health or to develop relationships.  We played tag, hide n’seek, baseball, climbed on monkey bars and trees, roller skated, rode bikes and ran from each other, ran to the monkey tree, and ran to get dinner.  The outdoor activity was fun in the park in the midst of the tumultuousness of all of our lives.  Any physical health, wellness or development of relationship was a fortuitous by-product.  

Tatlow Park has a special place in my heart.  My husband knew it when he proposed to me on the bridge.  As he was on bended knee, my first impulse was to grab the ring.  I’d dropped and lost many things into the stream below that bridge as a kid.  I stared at the ring on my finger and then noticed that we had an audience.  Everyone in the park had gravitated towards us to watch the proposal and share in the excitement.  Because that’s what neighbourhood parks do.  They build community.   

Dandelion Dreams is the section of my blog devoted to myself as a writer. The name is inspired by my favourite piece of art by David Klassen.

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