The Canadian Village Green

It's that time of year.  The days are slowly cooling off and the weather is quietly changing up. Opportunities to be outside enjoying this warm weather are lessening - so those last days of outdoor field sports or afternoon relaxation in the sun are becoming a priority to some.  There will only be so many more days to get out to play a game of touch football or Frisbee or even just to spread out a blanket and have one last read under or a tree or impromptu picnic.  September is a great month for getting out!

In other countries the "village green" is a prominent feature - where houses encircle this green expanse of space.  It's a commons and shared by all who appreciate it as a natural area that can be used for recreational purposes.  In some Canadian cities, it's harder to come by and one may argue that the sports field is the defacto replacement for this common green area.  But you could say that the spirit of an official recreational field is not the same, with so many sports teams booking the space which makes if feel like a semi-private park that encourages organized events rather than impromptu gatherings.

village green (vĭl′ĭj grēn): a village park consisting of a plot of grassy land, a piece of open land for recreational use in an urban area (link)

Large expanses of lawns and/or mown green spaces (where there are no painted lines or end of field goals) allow for casual recreation and creative play and are valuable in a different way than recreational sports fields.  These grassy locations really do seem to be owned by the citizens.  And they provide opportunities for city dwellers to stretch out, play some pick-up sports, spend an afternoon under the sun or just sit and watch the world go by.  What a great way to spend a day - lying in a grassy location, with no plans and a field of green surrounding you.

Remember the campus mall/lawn and how everyone would congregate there?  That's what village greens remind me of.

They are breathing space for a vertical city, an expansive green refuge for our cubicle driven lives and  a tactile and sensory reserve for the hard edged street grid that we find ourselves in.  Even if you don't find yourself spending as much time IN them as you'd like, even if you drive, walk or bike by them, they still can offer a mini-respite from an otherwise grey day.

Some lesser known green places in Ottawa:

- Rockcliffe has an official Village Green at Mariposa and Springfield (note the Black Locust trees!)
- Lees Avenue has an unnamed green space between Brunswick Street and the apartments
- There is the new Great Lawn at Lansdowne Park (envisioned for "festivals, family picnics and ultimate")
- One section of the Patterson's Creek Park (west of Bank Street) is a nice open grassy area
- Hintonburg has a green space on a hill along Bayswater Avenue near the Tom Brown Arena

There are also some very familiar public lawn locations including Parliament Hill, the lawn in front of the Supreme Court, Major's Hill Park and the grassy locations along Riverside Drive where ultimate teams gather.

Where is your favourite (unofficial) village green in Ottawa?

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