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June 10, 2005
The Franklin Children’s Garden - new destination park on Toronto Islands
  
Mayor David Miller, Councillor Pam McConnell and Toronto Parks, Forestry &
Recreation General Manager Brenda Librecz joined students from the Island
Public/Natural Science School today to welcome Franklin the Turtle to his new
home on the Toronto Islands at the official opening of the Franklin Children’s
Garden.

The new garden is a hands-on learning environment that combines interactive
features with free recreational programming for children to discover the
wonders of the natural world and to embark on the great adventure of reading.

The $2 million project is a joint venture between Toronto Parks, Forestry &
Recreation and its partners, including Kids Can Press: A Corus Entertainment
Company, TD Bank Financial Group, Unilever Canada Inc., Franklin author
Paulette Bourgeois, Franklin illustrator Brenda Clark, the Francine and Bob
Barrett Fund at the Toronto Community Foundation, Epic Plant Company, Toronto
and Region Conservation, Great Lakes Sustainability Fund, Toronto Zoo’s
Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme and the Great Lakes Renewal
Foundation.

"The Franklin Children’s Garden is built on the kind of creativity and
partnership that is transforming our entire waterfront," said Mayor David
Miller. "The Toronto Islands are a rare gem in the heart of our city and the
addition of the Franklin Children’s Garden enhances this already magnificent
landscape."

"Every now and again a project comes along that not only sparks my imagination,
but that I know is too special to let pass by," said Valerie Hussey, President
and Publisher, Kids Can Press. "In the case of the Franklin Children’s Garden,
I had the good fortune to discover that Leslie Coates with Toronto Parks,
Forestry & Recreation, as project lead had both a vision for a very special
park, but also the total determination and tenacity to see it come to fruition.
There are a few such parks in the world that have been inspired by characters
from children’s literature, so Franklin will be alongside such wonderful icons
as the Make Way for Duckling Garden in Boston Commons and the Ezra Jack Keats
Park in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. You can’t get much better than that company."

Franklin the Turtle, the celebrated storybook series, inspired the garden.
Known to children around the world, the Canadian series is written by Paulette
Bourgeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark. The Garden’s design comes from the
landscape architecture firms of Janet Rosenberg & Associates and Schollen &
Company Inc. and Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation. It comprises four acres
and has six areas with interactive features:

  • Pine Grove includes bronze sculptures of Franklin and his
    storybook friends to hug, touch or just make children smile. Canadian sculptor
    Ruth Abernethy created the sculptures.

  • Unilever Snail Trail invites children to race to the highest
    point of the Toronto Islands. At the top of the spiral walkway, binoculars
    provide a panoramic view of the garden.

  • Hide and Seek Garden has a wheelchair-accessible treehouse and a
    vine tunnel for children to explore.

  • Turtle Pond will add excitement to any child’s visit as they
    observe turtles, frogs, birds and other critters in a wetland environment.

  • Kids Can Press Little Sprouts Garden will nourish a new
    generation of gardeners as children learn how plants grow as they dig in the
    dirt, sow seeds, weed and water.

  • TD Storybook Place celebrates Canada’s best children’s
    performers. Authors and illustrators will take centre stage for the free
    storytelling and performing arts series.

    "TD Bank is thrilled to have played a role, alongside the City of Toronto and
    other great partners, in making the wonders of Franklin Children’s Garden a
    reality," said Karen Buck, Vice President, TD Canada Trust. "Because we
    strongly believe that the future of our communities and of our environment lies
    in the education of our children, we are excited to be sponsoring the TD
    Storybook Place. This beautiful amphitheatre will connect young Torontonians
    with children’s authors throughout the summer - promoting literacy and learning
    as well as a respect for the natural world."

    "Unilever Canada focuses its community efforts on the healthy development of
    young children and clean water stewardship," said Jeffrey Allgrove, President
    and CEO, Unilever Canada. "We are proud to be part of an initiative that brings
    environmental learning to young children in such a fun and engaging way."

    The Franklin Children’s Garden officially opens to the public on Saturday, June
    11, 2005, with author readings at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Free programming will be
    available daily from June to September, including a reading and performing arts
    series that features Canada’s best children’s authors and illustrators, and
    drop-in activities related to gardening and the environment.

    For more information about the Franklin Children’s Garden, including the
    calendar of events for summer 2005, visit: www.toronto.ca/franklin.


    Media contact:

    Toronto Parks, Forestry & Recreation media hotline
    416-560-8726



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