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Toronto laneway to be called Miriam Garfinkle Lane

October 10, 2019

The City of Toronto has approved the name “Miriam Garfinkle Lane” to identify a public lane south of Barton Avenue, extending easterly from Clinton Street.

The name recognizes Dr. Miriam Garfinkle (1954-2018), a physician and community activist who lived on Barton Avenue in a house which backs onto this laneway.

As the background documentation to the City’s decision notes, Miriam Garfinkle
“worked for a number of years to improve the laneway, notably by creating a “Community Laneway Garden” along the side of the laneway. She cleared away garbage and pieces of brick and concrete which had been dumped there over the years, fertilized the soil with compost from her backyard compost bin, and planted a variety of indigenous wildflowers and plants, including milkweed. The milkweed plants successfully attracted Monarch butterflies which laid eggs on them; some of these eggs were then collected and hatched in a protected environment by two Monarch butterfly conservationists living on Euclid Avenue. She created a sign identifying the Community Laneway Garden as a shared community resource, which motivated several nearby residents to become involved in helping to care for the garden.

“She was also active in the nearby Frankel-Lambert Community Garden, where in addition to producing tomatoes, rapini, kale, and garlic, she worked to do outreach to local community members, including residents of nearby seniors’ buildings, to encourage them to become involved in the garden. It was one of her ongoing goals to make the membership of the garden more reflective of the diversity of the surrounding community, including Indigenous people. In the last year of her life, she shared her garden plot with a young friend from NishDish, the Indigenous restaurant at Clinton and Bloor which she strongly supported.

“Miriam Garfinkle was a long-time resident of Seaton Village and the Annex, and a community activist. She lived at on Manning Avenue from 1980 to 1985, on Albany from 1985 to 1999, and on Barton Avenue from 2000 until her death in 2018. She practised medicine at the Immigrant Women’s Health Centre on College Street, at the Palmerston Health Centre at Palmerston near Bloor; at the Spadina Health Centre; and at the Regent Park Community Health Centre.

“Her children attended local schools (Palmerston, Huron Street, King Edward, and Harbord Collegiate) and she was very active in working to support the public school system. Her family ties in the area go back even further: both of her parents attended Harbord Collegiate.

“She was active in the community in a number of other ways, for example by advocating for traffic calming measures on Albany Avenue (in collaboration with Jane Jacobs) and Barton Avenue. In 1997, she founded, and played in, a successful women’s hockey league at Bill Bolton Arena. She also played shinny at the rink in Christie Pits.

“She was also active in larger issues: her house was notable for displaying signs expressing her opposition to the Line 9 pipeline and jets on the Island airport. She made a number of presentations at City Hall, speaking in favour of support for women’s reproductive health services and action on climate change.”

Miriam Garfinkle Lane.

About Miriam Garfinkle
Miriam Garfinkle Lane

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