UPDATE: Join the new Friends of Charles G. Williams Park! The City is planning upgrades to the park and the community is organizing to have a strong voice. Join our list to stay informed of news and meetings:
Charles G. Williams Park is technically another park across Wabash Avenue from Sorauren Park, though many people call it the “Sorauren playground.”
It features the popular playground, sandbox, basketball court, and a wading pool open and staffed by Parks, Forestry and Recreation in July and August from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.
HISTORY: The park was an initiative of the Roncesvalles-Macdonell Residents’ Association called “12 Acres Short”. It was begun in the late 1970s to secure much needed parkland for the North Parkdale area (Sorauren Park didn’t exist then: TTC repair barns occupied the space).
The association was successful in acquiring funds from three levels of government that were used to buy and demolish an old paint factory on the site. City planners worked with local residents to design the park which was officially opened on June 25, 1983 in a ceremony organized by the RMRA and attended by politicians, historical board members, City planners, and local residents.
Charles Williams’s son, Harvey Williams, his two grandchildren, Gail and Richard Williams, and all of his great grandchildren were in attendance.
Charles Gower Williams was born in England and emigrated here just before World War 1. He was an early resident of Wright Avenue and representative of new immigrants to the community at the time. He enlisted in the Canadian army when war broke out, leaving his Welsh-born wife and two-year old son behind. He died fighting in 1917.
In 1984, a bronze plaque was mounted on the brick wall on the east side of the park that read as follows:
This park is dedicated to the memory of Charles Gower Williams, husband of Mary E. Williams, who died tragically during World War 1 defending our country and freedom.
We are the grateful beneficiaries of the sacrifice that he and so many of his generation made, leaving all that was dear to them, facing danger, enduring hardship, and finally passing from the sight of men.
LEST WE FORGET
The plaque is currently in storage, with plans to remount it as part of planned playground improvements in the next few years. Williams’s grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren still live in the area.
(Thanks to Rod Sherkin for this history. January 2014.)