Public Bakeovens

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Welcome to Public Bake Ovens

Why bake ovens? Over the years, CELOS has found that these small brick or cob structures bring forth delicious pizzas, bread, and new friendships. They are also a magnet for stories of distant places, for community gatherings, and -- more recently -- for regulations. The following sections present the stories, photos, journal entries, newspaper articles, policies, and other documents that CELOS has collected about bake ovens.

Toronto Bake Ovens

Toronto boasts a number of permanent bake ovens in neighbourhoods across the city. Some are in public parks, while others are on private property. Each oven has a different story of how it got built and who built it, and each has its own unique programs. All of the ovens on the list below share the goal of being a public resource.

Dufferin Grove oven 2002

List of Permanent Bake Ovens in Toronto


Toronto Guest Baker Project (2010-2011)

Riverdale Dec 4, 2010

Christie Pits, Jan 16, 2011

Alexandra Jan 30, 2011

Mabelle Arts Oven, Nov-Feb

Lawrence Heights Mar 18, 2011

Alexandra Oct 1st 2011

DPNC/The Stop, April 7-8, 2011

Lawrence Heights, April 28, 2011

Artscape Oven, May 6

Falstaff Oven, May 18

Riverdale Farm, May 17

Thorncliffe Park, May 20

Riverdale Farm, May 24, 2011

Pelham Park, June 2

Falstaff, June 15

Cedar Ridge, June 26

Falstaff, Sept. 3

Riverdale Farm, Sept. 5

In 2011 there were eight or nine outdoor bake ovens in Toronto, only a few of which were used regularly throughout the year. The goal of the guest baker project was to learn what assets and challenges each oven has. Each story comes from a baker visiting and baking in the oven, often at a community event where the bread was then served. The process of arranging an occasion and actually baking unfolded according to the characteristics of the oven, logistics of baking, and politics that surrounded it. We hope that our findings help the future use of ovens as well as the building of any new ones. We created a chart from the guest baker project here: Bake Oven Chart

A note from the main guest baker (2010-2011)

Since the first day of my visit to Dufferin Grove Park, I have been in love with the ovens in the park. Ovens are not exactly a part of the Japanese culture I come from, but I have always aspired for one, a wood-fired oven.

Here at the park, the bakers taught me by doing, and I learned by doing. That is the way we decided to do our research.

An outdoor oven is really a wonderful thing to have, and I hope that more people and communities benefit from building one. --Yo Utano

Jeff Connell in front of the Woodlot oven

The first guest gig was on Dec.4 at Riverdale Farm, for their annual "Home for the Holidays" event. Yo was the baking assistant to Jeff Connell, and there was a preparatory meeting at Jeff's new restaurant, The Woodlot. Then as Yo visited each oevn she wrote up the story. You can find out about Yo's experiences at the links at the top of this page.

Here is a youtube post that Yo Utano found, called Uzbec cuisine. Cooking with fire, in all its glory!

Temporary Bake Ovens

Bread and Puppet oven from the front

from the side

There are different ways of making a temporary oven. Two examples are the baking day set-up by baker-artist Wendy Trussler at Healey Willan Park in 2002 (link below), and the oven that often accompanies Vermont's Bread and Puppets Theatre performances when that company tours. That oven was the pattern for the CELOS temporary oven. It's basically a box made of bricks piled on top of each other, with one side left open. Once all the materials are taken to a site, it takes about an hour to assemble the oven. The design is meant to create the simplest oven possible, so that people can enjoy the experience of baking on a brick hearth in their neighbourhood without (or before) going through the much more involved process of building a permanent oven.

Temporary Ovens

Healey Willan

Alan Carlisle community garden oven

"Show on the Road" Ovens

In 2007, as part of the "Show on the Road" grant, CELOS helped run pizza events in other neighbourhoods using a temporary bake oven. The links below connect to each of these events.

Bell Manor Park

Broadlands Rink

Crombie Park

Lakeshore Park

RV Burgess Park

Susan Tibaldi Park

Withrow Park

New Ovens Projects


No new ovens being built.

NEW BAKE OVEN POLICY passed on Nov.22, 2011....

by the Parks and Environment Committee -- to charge fees to baker volunteers. See the Star article

Here are some park oven baker reactions on Youtube: bake oven fees

Here's our deputation (it fell on deaf ears).

Here's our earlier response to the city's bake oven policy. It's in the same format as the policy so that the two documents can be compared more easily. Our approach was to maximize community oven use and stress the need for a collaborative relationship between City staff and bake oven users. This version was not accepted by staff and therefore not considered by the Parks Committee.

Follow-up, one year later:

A year after the bake-oven policy was passed, here is the census of park oven use in 2012 in Toronto:

Christie Pits: 3 times
Edithvale: about 10 times (new oven, started mid-season)
Scadding -- between 8 and 12 times
Riverdale: 31 times
Dufferin (2 ovens) -- 161 times

New public ovens built according to the policy: 0

Follow-up, two years later

When City Council approved the new policy on Dec.1, 2011, they called for a detailed follow-up report from the PFR general manager two years later. We have asked the Parks and Environment Committee whether this report has been scheduled for the December 6 meeting of the committee. No answer.

Note: the new oven installation policy prohibits building bake ovens near ice rinks. That makes the Dufferin Grove and Scadding ovens illegal.

The Thorncliffe Tandoor oven was finally installed and used in the fall of 2013.


Follow-up, three years later

There was NO oven policy follow-up in 2013 at the Parks and Environment Committee.

Here is the city's web page on how to get a bake-oven permit.


See also: Oven Construction

If you want a bake oven for your park...

Note (Dec.4 2015): it appears that Parks management has made a new rule -- that all ovens must have an engineer's stamp. For this reason, only small pre-stamped pre-fab ovens are now being approved for installation. Publicbakeovens recommends that community groups not try for such ovens, since they don't work well in public spaces.

Cooking with Fire

1. The cost of a bake oven varies a lot:

at an Arts co-op, $1500, volunteer labour, recycled bricks

at a historical museum, $20,000, expert oven builder

2. Maybe first test local interest with a few campfire cookouts:

breakfast in the park

big pot for goat, little pot for rice

Zakia at the tawa

pancakes at park "sleep-in" protest

3. It's also possible to bake in a temporary oven:

Ovens like this one can be made in an hour with loose bricks and angle iron to hold the roof.

Others, like this one, can last a long time even though they are made without mortar.


4. Permanent ovens come in many different kinds:

Dufferin Grove oven 2002, holds 40 loaves

Lawrence Heights oven has fire in two places

John Polanyi schoolyard has a barrel oven made with cob

Sociable sitting areas beside ovens

grow2learn schoolyard garden at Lawrence Heights

Alan Carlisle's temporary community garden oven

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Content last modified on October 21, 2015, at 07:23 PM EST