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Parks and Playgrounds

Trees with Southside Pond in the background

Southside Park - Where Our City Blooms

Southside Park is the largest park within Woodstock, and it began in 1909. It is home to many beautiful gardens, walking trails, sports fields and other features. To see the additional features of this park click on the features below. You can also learn more about how Southside Park came to be, click on the history tab.

Gazebo surrounded by flowers

Leisure Activity Features

This Park has many different features for the whole family.

  • Gazebo
  • Beautiful Gardens Including a Veterans Memorial Garden, and Sister City Plaque (Sylvania, Ohio)
  • Bandshell Pavilion
  • Boathouse Pavilion
  • Sea Cadet Building
  • 2 Playground Equipment Sets One North of Cedar Creek and One to the South of Cedar Creek
  • Large Open Grass Areas with Picnic Tables
  • Washrooms
  • Parking
Recreational Features

There are many different sports fields to enjoy.

  • 2 Softball Diamonds
  • 1 Hard Ball Diamond (Tip O'Neil)
  • 1 Cricket Pitch
  • 1 Soccer Field
  • 1 Beach Volleyball Court
  • 1 Skate Park
  • Toboggan Hill
  • Walking Paths
  • Bike Racks
  • Fitness Pavilion
 History

In 1909 the Woodstock Parks Commission held a meeting to secure land for parks. They had to decide between a piece of land to the North along the Thames River or a swamp area to the South. When the Canadian Pacific Railways refused to allow access across the tracks on Wellington Street the south location was the clear winner. The Parks commission had given the new parks committee the power to buy all available land. The City had already owned 35 acres but more land was needed square off the proposed park.

Black and white photo of 5 men and 8 horses, with two little girls to the left. There are trees in the background and scrubland in the foreground.

Beginning the Work on Creating Southside Park 1913
Credit: City of Woodstock Museum

The Sentinel Review asked subscribers to name the park. Many suggestions came forward, such as Iris Park, if they planted hundreds of iris'. Alexandra Park, after King Edwards VII's wife. Shackleton Park, after Antarctic explorer Earnest Shackleton, who in 1909 he reached the South Pole. Some citizens who were not happy about the new park came up with Frogmore Park, named after its current residents. Atlantis Park because that city had sunk below a sea of mud. Luckily one citizen wrote in and suggested Southside Park for its geological location, and it stuck

The Parks Committee started the project by straightening and widening Cedar Creek. The excess fill helped to build several gravel roads throughout the park. In 1910 a plan was proposed for a dam in Southside Park to create an artificial lake for recreation purposes. In May of 1913, construction of a dam for the lake and excavation to erect a bridge to the west of the dam began. The firm of Bain and Ross of Embro were hired for the job. In the winter of 1914 the committee was able to open the now 2.5 acre pond, and it was skating season.

14 men at a construction scene. They are standing in a single line, shoulder to shoulder. The men are dressed either in coveralls or business suits. All are wearing hats. The first man on the left is holding a wheelbarrow. The man 7th from the left is sitting on the ground. The first man on the right is standing on a wooden retaining wall and the man next to him is holding a wheelbarrow. In the foreground is the shore or opening to a river. Both sides of the opening have a wooden retaining wall. There is a pile of dirt and construction material on the right side of the photo. In the background are trees, hydro towers and houses.

Building the Dam in Southside Park to Create Southside Pond - 1913-1918
Credit: City of Woodstock Museum 

During the First World War the committee built a boat house and a bathing house. Many people bathed, swam or laid down on the sandy beach. The next year swamp land beyond the pond was cleared to create a boating channel. It went around an island at the southeast corner of the pond and boats could now travel to the second concession.

September 13, 1918 a pavilion was opened with several hundred citizens there. The 22nd band was there lead by John Edgington. They preformed before and after the opening ceremonies. The pavilion was then cleared for dancing and many stayed until midnight.

 Black and white photo of men at work putting a grid-like wall form into a dug out trench. Elements in the photo include 3 men each on a horse cart pulled by 2-horse teams, 6 men standing on the ground (to the right of the trench) and 1 man standing on an installed section of wall form. The background consists of trees and sky; the foreground consists of earth and gravel, a cement mixer and pouring trough.

Creating the Retaining Wall along the North Side of Southside Pond - 1913-1918
Credit: City of Woodstock Museum

In 1919 the Park Commission was asked by the Horticultural Society to help with a war memorial. They planted 150 English Pin Oak trees along the outer edge of the park. Each tree had a plaque placed in front of it to acknowledge a fallen soldier. The Society also suggested to build a Memorial Arch, this arch would not happen until 1925.

With the park flourishing, 1921 saw the very first superintendent, Arthur Dent. Dent was able to promote the park as a tourist attraction with a pamphlet that he created. It promoted free camping, hot and cold water facilities and the new cookhouse. This brought many people to our little town to enjoy the beach, dances and boating. Southside Park was getting so popular that a new and larger pavilion was built, and the boating facilities were updated. In 1927 Woodstock became known as one of the best campgrounds in North America.

Glass plate negative portrait of a people swimming with a park and tents/pavilions in the background. There is lots of people swimming, and there are also lots of people observing, and watching in the background. It looks like there could have been an event at this park. You can see lots of trees in the background, along with hydro poles, and people.

Swimming in Southside Pond - 1918-1920
Credit: City of Woodstock Museum

 WW1 War Memorial Arch

The arch was built as a WW1 Memorial. Constructed in 1925, the arch was built on two rubble stone pillars supporting a concrete beam. The beam has two lines of inscription, the first 1914-18, and the second: Truth - Duty - Valor.

The structure started to deteriorate over the years. It had been damaged by cars and snowplows hitting the twin pillars. Rust had penetrated the beam because it was built with uncoated rebar, which was the standard at the time. Pieces of the beam were starting to fall on the road below, becoming dangerous for those passing under.

In 2007 the City decided to start the restoration process. That same year the Veterans Affairs announced they would contribute up to $25,000 towards the project. A new location was decided on to prevent any future damage. The arch would be rebuilt 5 meters north of its current location. To try and stop any impeded visibility issues for vehicles entering or leaving the park.

Construction began late 2009, it took many phases, and was completed by Mississauga-based Roof Tile Management. Using a 40-ton crane a crew removed the beam and took it back to their headquarters. There they determined that it was too deteriorated to save, and needed to construct a new beam. While that was being built the next phase began; dismantling the stone pillars.

The stone pillars were the most difficult part of the restoration. Each of the thousands of stones were numbered and photographed before deconstruction started. That way they could be placed back in their original location. Even with all that effort it wasn't possible, each stone varied in shape and configuration. 

The new foundations were constructed and the rebuild began. Once the pillars reached 15 feet in height the new beam was put into place. The company attempted to rebuild the beam as close to the original as they could. With the beam now in place the pillars were finished and now stood 22 feet high. They capped them off with copper roofs to protect it from the elements.

WW1 Memorial Arch in Southside Park. Photo taken in 1973.
WW1 War Memorial Arch - 1974 

City Parks With Playgrounds

There are many parks within the City that have playgrounds, each playground is unique with different features. If you are looking to get the family out to play and have fun there is a wonderful park near you.

Park Rentals

You can request to book many of the cities outdoor facilities, for weddings, family reunions, picnics or photography sessions. Click the button below to fill out the request form, please note it may take 1-2 business days for a response to your email.

Book

     Left image is of the Boathouse pavilion in front of Southside Pond, middle image is of the Southside Park Gazebo surrounded by tulips, and the right image is of the Bandshell pavilion is Southside Park.

 Rental Fees

 Outdoor Area Rental Fees:

  • Open Picnic Areas:  $45.20/day (HST included)
  • Open Area - Fitness Class:  $12.00/hour (HST included)
  • Covered Pavilions:  $71.50/day (HST included)
  • Beer Garden: $229.95/day (HST included) 
  • Gazebo Rental for Weddings/Showers:  $31.30/hour (HST included)

 Special Event Fees:

  • North or Southside of River in Southside Park: $350.30/event (HST included)
  • UTRCA Lands North Shore: $734.50/day (HST included)
  • UTRCA Lands Special Event Rental Area: $169.50/day (HST included)
  • UTRCA Lands Special Event Administrative Fee: $339.00/event (HST included)

 

 All rentals require $2 million liability insurance coverage which can be obtained through the City at a cost.

Cottle Park Garden Plot Rentals over a picture of a shovel pushed into the ground

 Information and Pricing

Information

  • Registration for the use of Cottle Park Community Gardens is restricted to the residents of the City of Woodstock only. 
  • The garden plots are located at 664 Parkinson Road, Woodstock, and are 11.5ft x 16ft in size. 
  • Garden plot rentals are one (1) plot per registered person (maximum of two (2) garden plots per residence).
  • The community gardens area is fenced and gated.
  • All garden tools, seeds and plants must be supplied by the gardener.
  • All gardeners must keep their plots free of weeds. Gardeners are not allowed to use chemical pesticides, only organic products may be used on your garden plot.
  • The community gardens are located in a public park.
  • Pets are prohibited inside the community gardens area. Off-leash pets are prohibited in Cottle Park.

Pricing

  •  Garden Plots are $28.70 for the season.

Contact Us

© 2017 City of Woodstock P.O. Box 1539, 500 Dundas Street, Woodstock, ON N4S 0A7

 

Phone: 519-539-1291
Email: General Information

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