Public Bakeovens



Cooking with Fire in Public Parks


Toronto Bake Ovens

Toronto boasts a number of permanent bake ovens in neighbourhoods across the city. Most are in public parks, although a few 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.

The official City of Toronto bake oven information page is here (click on "outdoor ovens"). It includes a city training video "Using an outdoor oven in a city park": here. Caution -- do not try to make pizza this way.

Dufferin Grove oven 2002

List of Permanent Bake Ovens in Toronto


Braddock oven in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

this oven was moved with a crane from one Toronto park to another

Good oven-building advice from our baker friend in Virginia, Heather Coiner, and a post about how their oven is used for fun is here....

See also: Oven Construction

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

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

If an oven is not locally built but imported from a distance and has designers involved, the cost can go up very high: new Christie Pits oven ordered from France, cost $153,800.


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


new Christie Pits oven ordered from France, all-in cost: $153,800

lframe% | 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

Tandoor Ovens

Thorncliffe Tandoor Oven Project

What is Tandoor? An enhanced cooking fire

It is an open air cooking device traditionally used in many cultures ranging from the Middle East to Central and South Asia. In a tall clay pot with a fire at the bottom, insulated to keep the heat in, various foods such as bread, grilled/roasted meat and vegetables are made.

The tandoor oven was installed at R.V.Burgess Park in 2013 and first used regularly in 2014.

Here is a short Youtube video showing naan bread being made at the park in September 2014.


Feb.17, 2023 15th annual winter festival

It was a bitter wind and -6 at about 2 pm. So there were no games going on, but people were lined up at the shipping container cafe. There was a sign in the cafe window, saying there would be parathas for sale, along with samosas and pakoras but also pizza, chicken hot dogs, fries, poutine, and spring rolls -- a wide selection!

There was a little campfire in a small metal fire bowl, but no benches around it, and it stood in a very windy location. Getting the campfire permit at all was a last-minute cliffhanger.

cafe menu

shipping container cafe

new fire bowl, no benches

The tandoor was roped off with caution tape but the baker was gracious about allowing a curious celos photographer to get in the way.

-6 C and windy:at the tandoor



plain naan







At one point some free gifts were passed out -- little Harry Potter dolls among them. Metrolinx had a stand that was giving out cardboard train cars that could be put together. And there was hot chocolate, free for volunteers (as usual there seemed to be many youth ready to help). There were two city rec staff as well. But everybody looked a bit cold. Or more than a bit.




June 22, 2018

tandoor was at the perfect heat

the last bit of Golden Temple durum dough, 8.30 p.m.

volunteers and Foodshare staff

Anna Hill from Together Project came by to pick up some sweets for tomorrow's picnic at Dufferin Grove Park. There will be Syrian families coming to meet with their friends. The next day Anna sent some pictures of the picnic.



Oct.9 2015, visit to tandoor with former guest baker Yo Utano. Photos by Michael Monastyrskyj

Yo Utano, who carried out the CELOS guest baker project in 2010 and 2011, moved back to her home in Japan three years ago. In order to do a follow-up on public ovens in Toronto, CELOS was able to bring Yo back for three weeks in October. On a chilly Friday in early October, our friends from the Thorncliffe Park Women's Committee lit the fire in their park tandoor and had a show-and-tell bake session with us. Our friends are: Zakia Rasa, Sabina Ali, and Asiya Sohail. They brought another cook as well.

spreading the dough on the pillow

Yo presses the dough against the hot tandoor wall

discussing different kinds of dough

bubbles form right away

tasty naans

the cooking crew

Portable Tandoor

June 26, 2011 CELOS purchased a portable Tandoor. The tandoor spent several years at Thorncliffe Park's R.V.Burgess Park, until the park got its own tandoor. Then CELOS brought the tandoor back to Dufferin Grove and continued lending it out from there. Read more...

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

Our original inspiration for temporary ovens was the work of Bread and Puppet Theatre, who have been doing what they call "cheap art" in New York, Vermont, and many other countries since the 1960's. Their performances always involve puppets and bread, and when they are not at their farm with their own ovens, they build ovens with whatever materials come to hand.

The Healey Willan Park temporary oven

-- the baking day set-up by baker-artist Wendy Trussler at Healey Willan Park in 2002


"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.

Those ovens were 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 was meant to create the simplest oven possible, so that people could 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.


Bell Manor Park

Broadlands Rink

Crombie Park

Lakeshore Park

RV Burgess Park

Susan Tibaldi Park

Withrow Park


Alan Carlisle's temporary oven

The bricks for this oven came from an industrial site that had a lot of foundry bricks left over. Everything has been re-purposed in a most ingenious way. The pizzas baked up in minutes and were every bit as good as those we bake in Dufferin Grove Park's] permanent oven. read more


Winter oven lab, started December 2016

The City of Toronto put in a new oven at Christie Pits last spring. It was purchased from France, and by the time it was installed it had cost the city $161,000 -- way higher than anything built before. By October 2016 it had only been used 5-6 times, so the cost to the city per pizza was pretty high :-)

To counter the idea that outdoor ovens are complicated and expensive, our group (CELOS) held an outdoor winter cooking lab for which we built an unmortared oven in between snowstorms in December, using found materials (mostly stacked bricks). In addition to what we were able to scrounge, we paid $17 for a piece of cement board for the hearth base and $89 for a ceramic fibre insulating blanket. On January 4, three ex-Dufferin Grove bakers used it to make pizza, sourdough bread, scones, pita bread, roasted vegetables, and ghee, all from the same firing. The quality, as far as we can see, is very good. read more

really a pile of bricks, unmortared, ceramic fibre blanket overtop

the temporary oven goes up to 500 F in 3 hours

Ovens in other places


Rocket Stoves for Cooking


Healey Willan: the baking day set-up by baker-artist Wendy Trussler at Healey Willan Park in 2002 -- the baking day set-up by baker-artist Wendy Trussler at Healey Willan Park in 2002

Freedom of information requests and correspondence here.

We've collected three different city government permit information pages here.

Jode Roberts oven permit questions

Bake oven regulations and rules


December 2015, Christie Pits: engineer's stamp rule

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 have currently been approved for installation. Publicbakeovens recommends that community groups not try for such ovens, since they don't work well in public spaces.

This has not been stated directly, but the evidence seems to be there. For example, at Christie Pits the original oven, which was in good repair, was removed from its place in the fall of 2015 and placed at the side for apparent disposal. After some discussion, the oven was put back beside the footings for a new prefab oven. See Christie Pits oven correspondence.

Sequel, 2016:

In the case of Christie Pits the new oven was not small (although the actual hearth size was not much bigger). But the oven was imported from France and a large housing was made for it, Final cost: $161,000.

read more


March 2016, Dufferin Grove Park

barriers to block the public -- but no repairs

New rule: when there's a fire in the ovens, they have to be blocked off.

Reason: so that no passerby or child can jump inside. (Note: in 21 years of oven use, there has never been an injury to the public.)

Effect: On a bread baking day, the bakers have to tend each oven around 10 to 15 times per oven and per firing. That amounts to 20 to 30 times per oven per firing for the two ovens. That adds up to 40 to 60 times of the bakers moving the barricades on Wednesday and 40 to 60 times on Thursday. In addition to that they have to set it up - moving 2 heavy barricades to position them in front of each oven, and afterwards to put them away again.

Note: this new rule appears to be modeled on the Riverdale Farm oven rules. That oven no longer has public use.

barrier at smaller oven

barrier at larger oven
Sequel: summer 2016

The city carpenters devised rather ingenious gates, made of wood, with nice hinges in a barn style. The barriers could themselves catch fire if there were sparks (which there are not), and during baking the gates are left open to give the bakers access -- which means that when there's an active fire in the oven, anyone could still put their hand in the fire. Happily, people don't do that, not before and not now. And the wooden barriers look so much nicer than the metal ones.

oven barriers open when fire is in

oven barriers closed when fire is out

History of the City of Toronto bake oven policy

Bakeoven Policy

August 2011:

Proposed City of Toronto Bake Oven policy: staff report

September 2011:

Response of bake oven users to the staff report: here, CELOS deputation

Commentary from Dufferin Grove baker Anna Bekerman:

The proposed bake oven policy does not adequately reflect the range of requirements that would foster community use.

Bake ovens can be used for private events like birthday parties, but they need some expertise (more than a BBQ). More commonly, bake ovens are used for a long list of open-to-everyone, community-based events (make-your-own pizza days, community suppers, potlucks, food preserving workshops, community baking, City councillors' community picnics, etc).

The success of community initiatives depends on:

- a) Collaboration with PFR staff. The amount of involvement from PFR staff would vary depending on the needs of any given community, from simply helping access water, kitchen space and bathrooms, to providing oven scheduling assistance, to providing staff. There needs to be clear language in the policy that supports collaboration.

- b) No fees for open-access community events, small as well as large. Open-access community-based initiatives are exempt from user fees in the proposed user fee policy here. If this exemption is ignored, fees will discourage involvement by smaller groups and individuals who are donating their time to provide a service to their communities.

- c) Coverage from the city's insurance. As open-access community-based park activities, these events should be covered by the city's volunteer insurance.


September 2011: This e-mail was sent to each member of the parks committee:

Friday Night Supper

Click to enlarge.

School Visit

Dear Councillor,

Now that last week's bake oven item at Parks and Environment has been deferred (thank you!) until your next committee meeting, could a couple of us come and see you with a little 15-minute presentation one day next week? We'd like to show you some pictures and a 7-minute video of bake oven users' commentary.

We'd also like to show you our alternative way of gaining revenue for the City through City-supported community use of bake ovens. At Dufferin Grove Park, during the last three months, bake ovens helped bring in over $35,000 ("everyone-welcome" pizza days, farmers' market bread baking, Friday night community suppers). All of this revenue was put back into the park programs: CELOS Financial records. We want to make sure that the City's bake oven policy explicitly enables such community uses, not mainly private birthday parties.

May we come and see you some time in the week of Sept.26 at a time that suits you? (I'll follow up this e-mail with a phone call to your staff.)

Jutta Mason
Public Bakeovens/guests


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

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

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.

Here is our chart of bake ovens in use in 2011

Here is the city's 2011 bake oven policy

Follow-up, one year later (2012):

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 (2013)

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:

"City Council direct the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, in collaboration with the community representatives, local stakeholders and councillors, to report back to the Parks and Environment Committee two years after implementation of the policy on how the details of the permitting, fees, construction and operations are working."

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 (2014)

There was NO oven policy follow-up in 2014 at the Parks and Environment Committee.

Rule saga

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Content last modified on April 17, 2023, at 04:50 PM EST