Bolton Camp Charrettes

Date: May 2014
Category: Special projects, consulting
Form: Charrette

Bolton Camp Charrette


In May 2014, the IwB worked with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and conducted two charrettes looking at the revitalization of Bolton Camp, a summer camp built in the early 20th century for impoverished urban children and mothers. After years of operation, in 1999, the camp closed down. Over the years, the facility had significantly deteriorated and the site was no longer accessible or functional to local community residents.

Working with the TRCA, the Peel District School Board, the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, community members, and civic and business leaders from Caledon and the Peel Region, the IwB conducted two charrettes to generate innovative ideas on how to transform Bolton Camp into a destination for participants of all ages.


Bolton Camp needs to differentiate from other local natural areas that offer amenities associated with outdoor recreation. It’s an opportunity to create something unique for the community and region.

Project Goals:

The goal of the Bolton Charrettes was to develop ideas that can contribute to the revitalization of Bolton Camp and transform it into a destination place within the greater regional context. The charrettes addressed several key challenges, including: the site access, safety, preservation, engagement and participation as well as funding and economics.

The proposed programming could cover adventure, sports and recreation, community art and culture programs, health and wellness training, food and agriculture, leadership development and social entrepreneurship opportunities.

Teams were encouraged to root their projects in the physical site locations that take advantage of the site’s existing historical features. Final outcomes of the charrette were evaluated for implementation during the Summer of 2014.

“Rarely are charrette participants able to physically implement their imagined futures. The Bolton Camp Charrettes facilitated this exciting opportunity, enabling young people to realize the positive and transformational impact they can have on their community.”

– Matthew Kelling, IwB alumnus & Bolton Charrette participant

Bolton Camp Charrettes:

Bolton Camp is located off of Caledon King Town Line, just north of King Road. It is the most populous community in the Town of Caledon, approximately 50 kilometres northwest of Toronto. The Camp opened its doors in 1922 acting as the Fresh Air Camp for mothers with small children, boys and girls from low income families. It was operated by The Neighborhood Workers Association of Toronto and spanned over 92 acres of hillside, wooded glen. In its first year, it is estimated that 160 city children and their mothers traveled from Toronto to the Bolton Camp site. During the Great Depression of the late 20’s and 30’s this camp was a bright place for many unfortunate kids to escape the heat and extreme poverty of the city. The camp was available free of charge to many families through the Fresh Air Fund.

As WWII began, the Bolton Camp served as a Cadet Training Centre for the Oakville High School Cadet Corps. After the war ended, the site continued to operate as a camp for underprivileged youth with approximately 169 buildings and serving more than 5,500 campers at its peak. An Outdoor Education and Conference Centre was added in 1972, and, in 1984, the Ruth Atkinson Hindmarsh Family Lodge was built to accommodate new programming and provide services for a wider audience.

In 1999, after 77 years of operation, the camp was sold by the Family Service Association of Toronto and was closed down; it has remain closed since that date. The TRCA purchased the site in 2011 and has been looking at ways to restore the camp’s deteriorated infrastructure and make the site functional again for local community. The TRCA has also been exploring a different operating approach for the facility. Rather than the traditionally used approach, where at the TRCA parks and field centres programming is primarily provided by TRCA staff, the Bolton Camp is planned to be opened up to a range of potential partners and contributors, including social enterprises, youth entrepreneurs and others. This approach emphasizes a shared stake in the success of this community venture, both in programming and capital investment.

On the whole, the charrettes provided the TRCA with innovative and implementable pilot projects that can bring new energy to Bolton Camp by focusing on the existing camp site assets.

Project Outcome:

Over two days, 20 teams of charrette participants made design proposals for Bolton Camp. The teams’ proposals overlapped on many issues. The IwB has written a “Key Insights and Recommendations Report” based on the main themes that emerged from all the teams’ work.

After the charrettes, a select number of the pilot projects were chosen to be executed over the course of summer 2014. The pilot projects were managed by TRCA in partnership with charrette participants and other community and business project partners.


In October 2014, the TRCA will hold an Open House at the Bolton Camp, including an exhibition of the design proposition from the two charrettes and the summer projects.

For more info on these developments see the TRCA website.


Presentations during the charrette
Team 1 hand-drawn poster for a proposed festival
A sketch from a charrette team

Project Credits:
IwB staff and faculty
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)
Region of Peel
Peel District School Board
Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

Humberview Secondary School
Mayfield Secondary School
R.F. Hall Catholic Secondary School
St. Marguerite d’Youville Catholic Secondary School
St. Michael Catholic Secondary School
Ascention of Our Lord Catholic Secondary School

Photo credits:
Robert Giusti
Gianluca Montesano

Project tags:
Bolton, Caledon, summer camp, charrette, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), Region of Peel, Peel District School Board, Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board