"Serpent’s" return to Colborne Lodge reunites oral history project participants, inspires local nostalgia|
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It was a sight in High Park that terrified, yet fascinated young and old. High
Park founder, John George Howard’s carved "serpent" lay curled and almost
animated on the south porch of his country home, Colborne Lodge in High Park,
for over 75 years. Made of an extraordinarily long and serpentine tree root,
Howard’s huge snake had life-like eyes and a wicked-looking tongue.
As the years passed the serpent became so decayed that it had to be removed.
The creature had disappeared, but not peoples’ memories of it and, the serpent,
along with many other personal stories, became the inspiration for an oral
history project about High Park entitled "The Legacy of High Park: Only a
matter of time."
On Thursday, June 2, a special ceremony will be held to officially return the
serpent to its former place in the sun. Bringing together many of the local
residents who shared their memories of the park, as well as the students who
helped create "The Legacy of High Park: Only a matter of time," the ceremony
will begin at 6:30 p.m. with official remarks starting at 7 p.m.
Led by Colborne Lodge Site Coordinator, Cheryl Hart, and Parkdale Collegiate
Institute teacher, Diane Sullivan, the oral history project came to life over
the course of the 2002-03 school year. It culminated in an exhibit of
reminiscences by local residents and multi-media works of art by the students
at Parkdale Collegiate Institute. The students expressed their impressions and
emotions about the residents’ stories of the park through poetry, music, cloth
work (a quilt, clothing) and even carpentry. One of the more notable project
pieces was the revival of the serpent, recreated from a fortuitously discovered
root. With the head carved from another found piece, the serpent was lovingly
recreated. Once its face was painted, the serpent lived again.
"We placed the new serpent on the veranda to see how it would fit," said Cheryl
Hart, Colborne Lodge Site Coordinator. "Within seconds of us bringing it out,
a park visitor commented on exactly where it should be placed and that its eyes
weren’t exactly right. This reinforced how strong the local memory of the
serpent is and how important the 'Howards’ park' has been in many people’s
Joining Cheryl Hart and Diane Sullivan at the podium on June 2 on the south
lawn will be the students and teacher who carved the new serpent and K. Haunts
who as a young child, played around the original serpent. The public are
welcome to attend.
Colborne Lodge, a City of Toronto Historic Museum, is operated by the Culture
Division. Parkdale Collegiate Institute is part of the Toronto District School
Board. Colborne Lodge is located at the south end of High Park, just north of
The Queensway on Colborne Lodge Drive. The Lodge may be reached by
416-392-6916 or email@example.com.
Cheryl Hart - Site Coordinator, Colborne Lodge - 416-392-6916