Torontonians are invited to get lost in the city’s latest winter activity.
Feb. 11 was opening day for the Giant Maze, a structure covering more than 14,000 square feet and standing about seven feet tall, at Evergreen Brickworks.
It is now the largest pop-up experience of its kind in the country, with other locations in Hamilton and Milton.
The Giant Maze is the brainchild of Philip Sous, founder of the food-vending event Street Eats Market.
Sous said he had the idea at the end of 2022 and the process of turning it into a real thing took two weeks. He thought of Evergreen Brickworks as a convenient location to attract more people and families in Toronto.
Danielle Goldfinger, senior manager of activations at Evergreen, said he expects the maze to attract a lot of people to the Brickworks, which is already a very active place.
“We have a farmers’ market every Saturday that runs all year, and right now an ice-skating ring,” Goldfinger said. “People come to the site to go on hikes and explore nature here. It is always busy on the weekends, but ticket sales [for the maze] have been going well, so we anticipate lots of people around.”
The pavilion that hosts the maze is covered, so the activity will not be affected by rain or snow, though she still recommends attendees dress warm, Goldfinger said.
She estimated the initial investment for the proposal was about $30,000.
Piecing it together
The maze is entirely made with reusable wooden blocks built by Grip Block. The same pieces are used during the summer for the City’s CaféTO program.
“They have built many of the city’s temporary patios, but because restaurants disassembled their patios when the cold weather happened, Grip Block had this massage storage of all these blocks that were not being used,” Goldfinger said.
Sous wondered how these blocks could be used during the cold weather and reached out to Mark Lavelle, Grip Block general manager, to put the idea into practice.
“We have an internal designing team, so we were able to design a maze and erect the structure,” Lavelle said. “It is built with our reusable ‘Lego’ building blocks, and it allows us to build any structure at any design and gives us flexibility to put up a structure like that very quickly and take it down.”
A large formation like the maze can be built in four to five days, needing an average of five people, he said.
Kids and adults trying the maze
Initial customers seemed to appreciate the Brickworks’ latest attraction.
“It speaks to the values of Evergreen, like sustainability and environmental forward-thinking,” Guelph resident Kendall Kente said.
Kente went there with her fiancé and both noticed that although there were many families, they saw many other adults there just with their friends.
Street Eats Market will also be at the maze locations.
“There will be giant Jenga, axe throwing, corn hole, maze toss and unlimited train rides,” Sous said.
Once inside the maze, participants can choose to follow a scavenger hunt and receive a prize for it.
Courtney Parkes took her four-year-old son and a friend to the second day of the event.
“They loved it,” she said. “In the scavenger hunt, you have to find different check points and then bring it back outside and get prizes to take to the fire pit.”
The maze will be in the site for every weekend until the week of March 19. Its last week is March break, for which it will be open every day.