An early postcard view of Reaume Park from the late 1930’s. From the City of Windsor’s parks history:
- Coventry Gardens
Commonly known as: Reaume Park, Coventry Gardens
Former/other names: Ford Street Park
Location: along the riverfront between Thompson Boulevard and Pillette Rd.
Property acquired: 1935, 1975
Official designation: City-Wide/Regional park
First established in 1935, when the Town of East Windsor amalgamated with the City of Windsor,
Reaume Park is named after Joseph Reaume, who operated both a hot dog stand and a gasoline
station on the site in the late 1920s. In 1975, the City of Windsor purchased a parcel of land from
the Glengarda Ursuline Convent and several underwater lots from the Windsor Harbour
Commission in order to expand the park. This addition was called Coventry Gardens, a name
chosen to honour Coventry, England, one of Windsor’s international twin cities.
A showplace and tourist attraction on the banks of the Detroit River, Reaume-Coventry Gardens
was designed for relaxation, recreation and as a place of civic pride. The park layout was conceived
by Harry Brumpton, former Commissioner of Parks and Recreation. His ideas were incorporated
into a design by Landscape Architect Steve Loader. Brumpton’s plan included landscaping in
terraces from Riverside Drive down to the park site. Evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs
were planted to offset beds of annual and perennial flowers.
The resourcefulness of the Department of Parks and Recreation is evident in the granite sets used to
create some of the patios and walkways. This gray stone was recovered form the road deck of the
Ambassador Bridge when it was resurfaced. The circular design of the terraces resemble ever
widening circles of rain drops falling into calm water, designed to harmonize with the spectacular
Peace Fountain. These patios now serve as a unique staging area for concerts and other events.
An enchanted castle of dancing water, the Charlie Brooks Memorial Peace Fountain was designed
by Richard J. Van Seters, Fountain Design Consultant of M.M. Dillon Ltd., and T.W. Szalay,
Director of Special projects for Windsor’s Department of Public Works. The fountain is dedicated
to the memory of former labour leader Charlie Brooks (1915-1977), an enthusiastic booster of
Windsor’s riverfront development. When operating at full capacity, the fountain draws over 12,000
gallons of water per minute and propels it over 70 feet in the air. The fountain’s lighting display is
operated by an on-shore programming unit, and during the evening hours visitors to the park are
treated to an overwhelmingly beautiful visual spectacle.
The fountain costs $562,000 to build, and was financed through public subscriptions totalling
$265,000 and fully matched by Wintario funds. Labour, industrial and business groups also made
significant donations to purchase the fountain, and Granby, Quebec, another of Windsor’s twin
cities, made a welcome contribution.
Each year, thousands of visitors to Windsor enjoy the brilliant flowers displayed at Coventry
Gardens. An informal garden that presents a mixture of perennial plants, visitors can view a wide
variety of floral colours within a short walk. Summer concerts are popular at Reaume-Coventry
Gardens, part of the Department of Parks and Recreation’s popular Music in the Park series. The
subject of many magazine and newspaper articles over the last 15 years, the waterfront park won
the Ontario Parks Association Award of Excellence for its design and the development of riverfront
parkland in 1977.
Sometimes the public spaces we take for granted, like parks, have an interesting history of their own.