Toronto's Riverdale Park East Might Get Renamed After Gord Downie

Downie lived in Riverdale for several years towards the end of his life

Photo: Gordon Hawkins

BY Ben OkazawaPublished May 15, 2024

Toronto's famous Riverdale Park East could be redubbed in honour of the late, great Gord Downie soon, as city council is reviewing a petition to change the park's name.

The Kingston-born singer best known for heading the Tragically Hip is something of a cultural icon and his influence — from his family band to his Indigenous charity to his posthumous album with Bob Rock — has lasted far past his death from brain cancer in 2017. 

Since he also lived in the Riverdale neighbourhood for several years as a beloved member of the community, it would make perfect sense to honour him locally.

Lake Fever Wilderness Company founder Damian Jakibchuk — whose company name derives from the Hip song "Lake Fever" — started the push to rename Riverdale Park after Downie with support from local businesses, as well as the band's manager Jake Gold, and both Downie's family and charity.

"When Gord died, I'd begun thinking about ways my company could do more," Jakibchuk told blogTO. "As we operate full-service camping trips, I thought that we could combine our affinity for the outdoors with Gord's environmental activism to rename an outdoor space after him, somewhere accessible where citizens and visitors could reflect on the impact he's had on Canada."

Although there's no word yet on the city's decision, the initiative does have the support of local ward councillor Paula Fletcher — who was also behind naming a nearby street after Blue Rodeo, and is a self-professed fan of Downie — so locals can hold out hope that future sunset, picnic and sledding excursions will be hosted by Gord Downie Park.

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