The long-gone brick fort at Tommy Thompson Park

One of my favourite outdoor spots around Toronto to spend time in is Tommy Thompson Park (a.k.a. the Leslie St. Spit), a not-too-well-known peninsula that extends into Lake Ontario from the far south end of Leslie St. It’s essentially a chunk of reclaimed land, formed from the dumping of unwanted construction material in the 1950’s, which has since transformed into an environmental wetlands & conservation area.

I’d written about it once before here on my blog, back in 2014. Take a peek at it for a more thorough photographic depiction of the gloriousness of this urban wilderness as a whole, but what I’ve come here to talk about today is a certain corner of the park’s backroads that I chanced upon in October 2017.

The good majority of Tommy Thompson Park is accessible by an asphalt road but there are a number of smaller, more rugged trails that branch off the primary track. My friend Conor and I were cycling in the area on a fall afternoon and opted for one such weather-beaten way. We came to precisely this point on the map when we noticed a curious structure made from the countless bricks and cinder blocks that lined the shores:

A very talented & motivated artist / amateur architect (quite possibly a group of them?) had gone to an incredible effort to build a fort along the park’s southern banks. We spent some time wandering around, marveling at how such a construction could possibly have come together in such a remote and difficult-to-access area.

I returned a few weeks later with my camera and took a bunch of shots to preserve the memory. As much as I wanted to share them to Reddit at the time, I refrained from doing so as a viral post could have led to an overabundance of curious visitors and potential vandalism of the site.

Despite my frequent return visits to the park it took me quite some time to stop by this particular corner again; alas, by 2020 the fort had been demolished. I’m not sure if its demise was accelerated by the harsh Ontarian wind or if it happened purely by human hands. Regardless, I finally feel like posting my pics of this magical lakeside artwork in memory of its creator(s) and the handful of people who were also lucky enough to stumble upon it and leave their own marks of appreciation.

Dotted around the fort were some smaller pieces of art and emotive dedications:

I was also quite impressed by the sheer number of ladybugs resting on the debris-laden lakeshore:

Prior to writing this post I tried to locate some further information on the brick fort, assuming others may have posted photos or a journal onto the web in the years that have passed. It was my hope that someone out there had laid claim to its creation. Aside from this Toronto Star article seven years prior to my visit questioning the origins of a similar, smaller brick shrine, I haven’t been able to find a thing.

Whoever you were, dear creator, the time I spent getting to know your charming fort was certainly time well spent. I remain in awe of your superb craftsmanship.


  1. Omg! Oct 4, 2017 The White slab with the little heart! That’s my tribute. NL & MG my mate found the place just like I wrote, and we started to come back to contribute to the artistic build….we fixed the bench around the mosaic table, which we loosely mosaic’d…plus in the middle put rocks around to make a small sundial We spent a lot of time returning and playing about, we even built a little spot to put a tealight in. After I wrote my little love note to this paridise, I left my Sharpie so others could do the same. We were so pleased to see others had found and loved, and left their notes and thoughts on the white slabs, that we collected and left in a single spot with the sharpie, and low and behold….well you can see the other notes to this wonderful place.
    It was a sad day indeed, to ride our bicycles to our favourite spot to find it totally demolished, not a trace to be found, not even the notes on the white slab rocks could be found. My heart sunk. I can’t believe they tore it down!!!
    Thank you so much for taking the pictures….I truly cannot believe you took a photo of my note!!! Thank you for that xoxo

    1. Wow are you serious?! That’s incredible, I’m so happy you caught my Reddit post and clicked through! It was such a peaceful place to spend time at. I remember being really impressed with the mosaic table – that was some true attention to detail – and your sharpie was certainly put to good use by fellow visitors.

      Somebody on Reddit commented that these forts pop up from time to time but are eventually taken down by city workers for safety reasons, it’s a shame but it makes sense from a liability perspective and it explains why it was there one day and gone the next. I’m gonna be on the lookout for more of these structures next summer.

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