|Rosedale Field clubhouse, November 30, 1921. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 615.|
Chambers forgot Rosedale Park’s key role in Canadian football history. This might be understandable, as the Grey Cup’s debut there on December 4, 1909 was an anti-climatic affair. Fans and media expended their energy during the semi-final at the park the previous week, when the heavily-favoured Ottawa Rough Riders were trounced by the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 31-7 in front of a crowd of 11,000 spectators forced to sit 15 deep around the field.
|Front page photo, Toronto Star, December 6, 1909.|
Rosedale Park’s association with athletics stretches back to May 24, 1892, when it officially opened as the Rosedale Lacrosse Grounds. Those disappointed by the home team’s loss during the debut lacrosse match found other distractions during the opening festivities. “The presence of a large number of Toronto’s most charming belles was a noticeable feature,” the Mail noted. “The galaxy of beauty which congregated on the grandstand was enough to turn the head of even the most experienced among the players.”
The site was purchased by the City from the Toronto Lacrosse and Athletic Association in 1917. The grandstand disappeared, leaving more space for sports like cricket, high-school football, ice hockey, lawn bowling, and tennis. A few athletic organizations, like the Toronto Track and Field Club, wore out their welcome with neighbours and City parks officials. Despite being denied a permit to continue practising running and pole jumping on the grounds in 1951, the “Red Devils” continued to use Rosedale Park. Living up to their nickname by hurling “ungentlemanly remarks” at park staff and hanging around the fieldhouse after closing time didn’t help the group’s appeals to Parks and Recreation. After arrangements were made to move the club to Varsity Stadium, the pole-vaulting pit was quickly filled in lest they return.
|Rosedale Park, July 1, 1921. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 52, Item 947.|
The park remains a central part of North Rosedale’s leisure time. For over 65 years, it has hosted the Mayfair community celebration. Recent upgrades include new playground equipment and a revamped historical plaque unveiled earlier this year to honour the first Grey Cup. If he had been on hand for that ceremony, Charles Chambers would have eaten his words about the park’s lack of history.
Additional material from the May 25, 1892 edition of the Mail, the December 6, 1909 edition of the Toronto Star, and the December 5, 1909 of the Toronto World.