An invigorating climb to the summit of Downsview Park’s largest mound of earth you’ll find the Downsview Wind Rose: a dynamic installation that celebrates the wind, the view, and the Indigenous connections to this place. This interactive structure, created by Future Simple Studio, features a circle of vibrant blue flags attached to a radial network of 32 square arches, arranged in a compass-like formation that resembles a huge wind rose.
A wind rose is a time-honoured tool invented by meteorologists to map the direction, speed, and frequency of wind in a specific location. The wind rose for Downsview, depicted on the concrete bench at the installation’s center, is specific to the Downsview airport, and shows the local area’s prevailing northwest winds.
Where those winds prevail, you’ll find the jewel of the Downsview Wind Rose: a set of flags designed by Mi’kmaq artists, Chris and Greg Mitchell, who lead the Born in the North design studio. The work, titled “The Turtle and the Traveller,” is based on the history of these lands and the local area. The flags are positioned at the installation’s northwest, therefore one is white, representing north on the medicine wheel, and the other is black, representing the west.
The white flag depicts a traveller, honouring Indigenous people’s historic use of this place as an important route for trade and travel. The turtle on the black flag represents the land—Turtle Island—as well as the local wildlife. Its shell references a medicine wheel to highlight traditional teachings. The style is reminiscent of petroglyphs from the Eastern Woodlands people.
XOXO Downsview is a celebration of public art, culture, and local heritage launched in coordination with Toronto’s Year of Public Art. It involves dynamic installations, murals, multimedia works, and an audio walking tour on the Downsview Lands and in Downsview Park. The projects highlight local artists, aim to bring people together, and highlight the history and potential of Downsview as a destination and generator of cultural works.
The project was made possible through Northcrest Developments and Canada Lands Company.
Downsview Wind Rose
Location: Downsview, Toronto, Ontario
Architect: Future Simple Studio
Architecture Team: Christine Djerrahian, Ernst van ter Beek, Martina Di Bacco
Artists: Born in the North-Chris and Greg Mitchell
Collaborator: Dept of Words & Deeds
Client: Northcrest Developments and Canada Lands Company
Completion: Fall 2021