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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Courante in the Toronto Music Garden

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Having grown up in the “city of lakes“, I find Toronto’s waterfront to be a welcoming refuge from the dry air and cement that characterizes the rest of the city. Of particular interest is The Toronto Music Garden, located on the south side of Queen’s Quay West, in between Lower Spadina Ave and Dan Leckie Way. During the summer it is a haven for butterflies and other insects, and is surprisingly quiet given its juxtaposition between the island airport and the Gardiner Expressway. 

From the City of Toronto website:

“Originally an Italian and French Dance form, the Courante is an exuberant movement that is interpreted here as a huge, upward spiralling swirl through a lush field of grasses and brightly coloured perennials and attract birds and butterflies. At the top, a Maypole spins in the wind.”

“Julie Messervy designed the waterfront Music Garden in collaboration with landscape architects from the city’s Parks and Recreation department. The garden design interprets in nature Bach’s First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello, with each dance movement within the suite corresponding to a different section in the garden. Two Canadian artists created special features for the Music Garden. Tom Tollefson, architectural blacksmith, fabricated the Music Pavilion, and Anne Roberts, Feir Mill Design Inc., designed the Maypole.”

photos by Shaun Merritt.



  1. fantastic—love the way it swirls up in space. i want to go there!

  2. Worth noting is that the Music Garden was originally proposed for a particularly sterile bit of public space in Boston, but ongoing political wrangling there left the original idea without a home.

    There is a good documentary on the garden’s move to Toronto in the Yo-Yo Ma Bach series (and some fabulous music too). At the end of the film, the site is bare land, and you can see just how far it has come today.

  3. it’s wonderful and also its story it is interesting.Wish to go there sometimes.Great design.