The Garrison and the Gardiner

The Garrison and the Gardiner is a two-player roleplaying game in which you stage a conversation between the Garrison Creek, a buried river that runs through downtown Toronto, and the Gardiner Expressway, an elevated highway that has shaped the development of the city since it was built in the 1950s. The game is meant to be played at the Bentway, an art venue under the Gardiner Expressway; specifically, players should play the game at the place where the Garrison and the Gardiner meet.

I created this game as an independent commissioned project for the Bentway‘s Playing in Public summer exhibition in 2021. The criteria for this project were very strict: designers had to make games playable without any props or objects, and the instructions had to be 200 words or less. Furthermore, I wanted my game to express my deep frustration and sadness at the gentrification of Toronto’s downtown core. The decision to pave over the Garrison Creek, and later to build a highway bisecting the city from Lake Ontario, has had an immense, immeasurable impact on the shape and feeling of Toronto as a city. By inhabiting the “minds” of these structures, I hope that players can better understand the breadth and timescale of this impact, and perhaps imagine what the city might have been like had other choices been made.

You can read the rules of The Garrison and the Gardiner here.

This is the map of the Bentway’s Playing in Public exhibit. The Garrison and the Gardiner can be played at location number 13, near Bathurst street and Fork York boulevard, just under the Gardiner Expressway.