Friday, January 1, 2021


The winter photo contest should showcase the diversity of wildlife and the beauty of the natural landscape in Sam Smith Park during this or any previous winter season (images taken outside the park will be removed from the photo album).

Entry submission period – January 1st until February 28th 2021.

Anyone who has experienced the beauty of the park and is a FOSS Facebook group member is eligible to enter.  Judging will be done by the FOSS Facebook community through “likes”.  FOSS steering committee members will not be eligible to enter but can “like”. The photos must respect privacy – any discernible photos of people will be also removed from the photo album.  

In order to stay consistent with FOSS policies about not posting owl images from the park, any owl images will be removed from the contest album.
Post all submissions directly to the Winter Photo Contest album on the FOSS Facebook page. The album can be found under the heading “Media – Albums”.  A title and the photographer’s name may be added in the description box under the image if desired.  Please make sure that you have submitted no more than five images by the end of the submission period – Sunday, February 28th 2021.  It is understood that any image entered in the contest may be used by Friends of Sam Smith Park for promotional purposes only (e.g. slideshow).

Judging will be based on the number of “likes” an image receives from Facebook group members and can be posted any time during the submission period.  Any ties will be decided by coin toss. Facebook allows one like per group member per image.  A previous like can be easily removed and reallocated as the two month submission period unfolds by simply re-clicking “like” under the image to remove it. 

First prize will be a gift certificate to the value of $100, second prize $60, and third prize $40.  Winners will be privately messaged for contact information so that they can receive their prizes.  Winners’ names will be announced on our Facebook page and blog as soon as possible after contest ends.



Wednesday, December 30, 2020


Friends of Sam Smith Park's online winter photo contest starts January 1st, 2021 and will continue until the end of February when prize winners will be announced.  Details and directions will be posted on this blog and on our Facebook page on New Year's day as well as being emailed to our contact list.

It is important to note that only FOSS Facebook group members will be able to post their photographs and vote, so, if you are not a member already and you are a Facebook user, please take a few moments to sign up.

We are excited about this new project and look forward to seeing and sharing beautiful images of our special park and its wildlife during the winter season.

Saturday, December 26, 2020


Friends of Sam Smith Park
volunteers were out at Whimbrel Point over the holidays replacing the faded weather-damaged signs on the utility pole.

It gave them the opportunity to explain to curious park visitors the significance of that special spot, the best spot anywhere to observe the spring whimbrel migration, and to pass on the story behind the bench’s dedication plaque to Fred Bodsworth and his role in the fact that we can still see this beautiful bird and other passing shorebirds today.

Click here for a previous, more detailed, FOSS post on Fred.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020


Volunteers needed.

How it’s done?

See the attached park map and link to the Winter Bird Count List for Colonel Sam Smith Park. Print the list.

Go out in to the park area shown on the map on December 26 (Boxing Day) and look for birds . Keep track of the time of day you visited the park, all the bird species you saw in the park or on the water as well as how many of each species you found. Send a list along to Brian at FOSS (see address below) so we can add them to the overall Christmas Bird Count. If the weather is poor on the 26th then use the 27th for your count.

Here is a link to a printable list for you to use for your count.

Try to send a photo with or without birds.
We will try to place some of the photos on the FOSS website (no faces please)
Send your Bird Count to:  Brian Keaveney, President of FOSS, at by Dec. 28th.

You can scan your list and send the scan by email or just include the data in the body of the email. Results will be posted on the FOSS website.

Note: Bring a colour bird book with you to help identify birds or ask another birder that day.

Make it a fun family outing and stay warm

Brian Keaveney 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020


Friends of Sam Smith Park applied for and was recently given a modest grant from Park People to offer some in-person and virtual activities during the winter months.

Activities will have an environmental theme related to educating people about nature at Sam Smith Park.

We are planning to offer nature and photography walks, winter tree identification, a Winter Photo contest through our Facebook page and an online day in mid February.  

"People" events will be conducted under the appropriate Covid-19 guidelines.  All events will be announced here on the blog, by email and on our public Facebook page.

Watch this space!

To kick this off, we are starting a "Kid's Activity Corner".  Themes are the environment, recycling and fun!  Activities will be posted every Friday on this blog and on our Facebook page - starting this Friday, December 4th.

Look for this ....

Tuesday, December 1, 2020


The FOSS Winter Bird Feeder Project is up and running again for its 6th year!  There are 5 bird feeding stations set up around the Skating Trail at Col. Sam Smith Park.  Each one consists of a seed feeder and a suet feeder.  

FOSS owes a big thank you to "The Urban Nature Store" on North Queen Street again this year, for donating a 50 lb. bag of black oil sunflower seed to this project.  

When you are at the park, check out our feeders to see what birds we attract. Please do not walk on the ice without skates.
And a big shout out to Brian and Barbara Keaveney who, every winter, set up the feeders, organize seed collection and co-ordinate the volunteers.

Thursday, November 26, 2020


Summary: FOSS Steering Committee Meeting

November 23rd, 2020

7:00, Via Zoom Video Conferencing

FOSS PARK PEOPLE GRANT: FOSS applied for and received a grant from Park People that will enable FOSS to offer a variety of in-person and on-line activities for park visitors who appreciate all the joys of nature that Col. Sam has to offer. FOSS gratefully thanks Park People for their generous support.

Scheduling and organizing of activities have just begun. For updates, continue to follow the FOSS blog and Facebook page.

Proposed activities (subject to change) include:

Photo Contest: Participants will be invited to submit their photos to the FOSS Facebook site. Facebook friends will then vote to choose the winner. Prizes will be awarded. Photos must be taken in Col. Sam Park during the winter. 

Guided Bird Walks

Winter Tree I.D. Walk

On-line Photography Presentation and slide show

On-line Winter Nature Crafts

On-line Live Feeder Watch (watch FOSS’s feeders at Col. Sam)

COVID-19 rules will be strictly enforced: guided walks limited to 10 participants (including the leader), physical distancing, wearing of face masks, etc.

REPAIR OF PLAQUE ON COMMEORATIVE BENCH AT WHIMBREL POINT: FOSS will repair the plaque dedicated to Fred Bodsworth, well-known Toronto birder/author (The Last of the Curlews). 

WINTER BIRD FEEDERS: Once again, FOSS will erect and maintain winter bird feeders around the skating track. Thank you to the volunteers who faithfully maintain them.

PROTECTIVE WIRE CAGES AROUND PARK TREES: FOSS will send a thank you letter to the city.

REMOVAL OF TREES NEAR THE WATER TREATMENT FACILITY: TRCA and the city have been contacted about this matter. FOSS will follow-up and inform visitors of any new developments.


DRUG/GARBAGE/TREE PLATFORM PROBLEMS AT COL. SAM: Discarded drug paraphernalia and litter are on-going detriments in the park, particularly in the North Creek area. Visitors are asked to notify the police at 416 808-2200 for drug infractions and 311 for trash build-up. Any problems reported to 311 are greatly strengthened when accompanied with a photo.

Thursday, October 29, 2020


 Summary: FOSS Steering Committee Meeting

October 20th, 2020

7:00, Via Zoom Video Conferencing

FOSS FACEBOOK RULES: FOSS honours the concept that Sam Smith Park is a nature sanctuary. FOSS rules state that there shall be no harassing/baiting of wildlife. As a result of recent unacceptable behaviour exhibited by some park visitors, FOSS will not be publicizing the sighting of birds and animals on its Facebook page. Existing unsuitable posts will be eliminated and FOSS’s rules will be enforced.

WHIMBREL POINT PLANTINGS: Along with two representatives from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), 15 FOSS volunteers (following strict COVID-19 rules) completed planting a variety of native trees, shrubs and flowering plants at Whimbrel Point. In a thank-you letter sent by FOSS, a request was made for the non-ticketing of volunteers’ vehicles at future events.

BIRD STRIKES: Birds have been killed after striking the windows of the Power House at Col. Sam. FOSS has organized a petition that asks the city to apply anti bird strike dotted film to the windows. City representatives have yet to respond.

CENOTAPH RE-LOCATION: The 8th Street Cenotaph will be located to Col. Sam Park. Please refer to the FOSS blog for photos and more information.

BIODIVERSITY INVENTORY: FOSS plans to conduct an inventory of the flora and fauna of the remaining forested area of Col. Sam in the spring of 2021.  It is hoped that the knowledge gained will help counteract any threat to its future survival. FOSS suggests that this precious resource be called “The Wildwood” (located between the two schools, south of the footpath).


NATURE’S SANCTUARY PHOTO EXHIBIT: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the exhibit is tentatively re-scheduled for Fall 2021. A new date (when confirmed) will be posted on the FOSS blog and Facebook sites. Save your photos until then. 

FACEBOOK POSTINGS OF COL. SAM PARK’S BIRD SIGHTINGS: Many FOSS Facebook followers have expressed concern about crowded conditions at Col. Sam. Many believe that posting bird sightings serves to encourage ever more visitors. Some visitors are apparently not practising “social distancing”. To alleviate such problems, FOSS encourages birders to post only their back yard counts.

NEW TORONTO HOLIDAY MARKET: FOSS has been asked to participate again in December 2020 (COVID-19 dependent). FOSS hopes to expand the activities on offer. Adults particularly enjoyed making Christmas “swags”. FOSS plans to make them available in 2020.

DRUG/GARBAGE/TREE PLATFORM PROBLEMS AT COL. SAM: Discarded drug paraphernalia and litter are on-going detriments in the park, particularly in the North Creek area. Visitors are asked to notify the police at 416 808-2200 for drug infractions and 311 for trash build-up. Any problems reported to 311 are greatly strengthened when accompanied with a photo.

Monday, October 26, 2020


The City has started work on the site for the soon-to-be-relocated Cenotaph that currently stands outside the Legion on Eighth Street.  The Legion property has been sold to a developer.

The Cenotaph will be placed on the north side of the Assembly Hall, right on Lake Shore Boulevard, just east of Kipling Avenue.  Tree protection boxes have been installed to safeguard the adjacent trees.  Councillor Grimes' office has told us "there will be a path from the cenotaph to the sidewalk along Lake Shore, ideally 2 flag poles, and likely benches. We are working with the Legion on this project, and will do what is necessary to establish the cenotaph in its new location."

Click here for more information.

Thursday, October 15, 2020


As a member and president of FOSS, I attended a planting at Whimbrel Point, Col Sam Smith Park.

All volunteers had to sign-in online for attendance control and COVID 19 clearance.

The planting started at 10 am. 15 volunteers had signed up to help. Many of them were members of FOSS Steering Committee plus members of FOSS and other locals who saw the request distributed by FOSS on social media. 14 listed volunteers showed. We all wore our masks.

This made a full complement of volunteers.

When we arrived at the Point, the TRCA leader and assistant were already present. They had ample signage placed on the approach to the Point saying what was going on and listing the COVID protocols. Other park users stayed clear of our planting.

They had placed all the shrubs and other plants we were going to use in the designated spots for each. These areas included two patches. One was mostly planted the year before but was now cleared of weeds. There was a large variety of plants. Tools were placed at the site for us. We used our own shovel for the planting and put it in a used pile at the end.

Before we started, Jacob Mokrzynski and his assistant welcomed us, gave background, checked us off his list and explained the COVID rules.

We were broken up into groups and brought over to the planting site where the work was described. We then had a sample planting done for each group so that plants were put in properly, giving them the best chance for success. The mulching for each type was also explained. There was a large pile of mulch placed at the site for us to gather in buckets for each plant.

Jake and assistant worked alongside each group to answer questions and assist with the planting. They had a tent set up as well but it was not used. The weather was cool and ideal for the work.

Mulch was used for each plant and the excess was used to coat the entire area to help prevent weeds from growing in the patches.

I took several photos of the operation as well as a group photo at the end. We were finished before noon, which was the planned end time. The photos were placed on the FOSS website and to other media.

Last year when we did the planting in the first patch by the point, we took a longer time-period. This was a problem for those of us who had cars in the south parking lot, as after two hours of parking, tickets could be given. I went back to the parking lot early to ask the parking authorities not to ticket us. They had chalked the tires and were about to ticket. They took my story and did not ticket there. A simple solution to this problem with volunteers being ticketed would be to provide a small sign on the registration site to those registered to be put in the windshield showing TRCA Volunteer Event with the date.

The process and execution of the planting was very well prepared and executed by the staff of the TRCA.

I thanked the TRCA staff present as well as all the volunteers for their work.

I also thank their boss Vince D’Elia for checking in near the end of the planting and for his part in getting staff and organizing the event.

Brian Keaveney

FOSS President

Thursday, October 8, 2020


Friends of Sam Smith Park thanks the 15 volunteers, including 5 steering committee members, who came out today for the planting of native shrubs on Whimbrel Point.

Friday, September 18, 2020


Last fall, the TRCA and FOSS participated in a planting of shrubs at Whimbrel Point at Col. Sam Smith Park.  This planting replaced a large area of burdock.  Things are going well with the first planting, so TRCA is planning a second stage, right next to last year's.  They are looking for volunteers for this activity.  This event will be following strict COVID-19 guidelines.

Date:  Thursday, October 8

Time: 10 a.m.- 12 noon

Location:  Whimbrel Point at Col. Sam Smith Park

If you would like to help, please contact Barbara Keaveney (FOSS) at  

 Information from TRCA-

"The plan would be to do planting infill with native shrubs and expand the area we planted last Fall at Whimbrel Point with the objective of outcompeting the existing burdock and enhancing the natural habitat at the site   

Both TRCA and City of Toronto have established very similar COVID19 Protocols and Guidelines for these type of community engagement activities and these modified program guidelines include limiting the number of participants to 25 at the event, and following strict health and safety protocols, including health screening, sanitization of tools and physical distancing. The health and safety of staff and volunteers is our main priority. If the situation evolves we will adapt our plans accordingly and keep you up to date with any changes that are made."

Thursday, September 17, 2020



"Sunday, Sept 20th from 12 – 2:45pm we are going to be distributing Children's Activity Kits in Sam Smith Park at our “Tree for Free” give away where we will be distributing – via safe, physical distancing drive-through- 450 native trees to be planted on private property in Toronto."

Click here for more information

Wednesday, July 29, 2020


"In our Statement on Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion in Birding, Birds Canada committed to actively reaching out and welcoming communities that have been discriminated against, feel unsafe enjoying nature, and are underrepresented by nature organizations. We further committed to include and listen carefully to voices from minorities to better address their conservation and education objectives.

As a start, we’re offering 200 one-year free memberships to welcome Black People, Indigenous People, People of Colour, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, and others who have experienced barriers to enjoying nature and joining Birds Canada."