Guildwood Park

Sunday April 19, 2015

I went to Guildwood park because the second oldest house in Toronto is preserved here.  I found the house and a whole lot more.  I parked in the parking lot of the former Guild Inn and went for a walk in the cool sunshine.

In 1795 Augustus Jones, who had surveyed Yonge Street, was commissioned to survey Scarborough.  It is said that Jones built the log cabin on the property for his crew to live in during the work but records show that his men lived in tents at this time.  Regardless of the details it is generally accepted that this is the oldest house in Scarborough and the second oldest in Toronto.

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The property was originally granted to William Osterhout in 1805.  Over the next 100 years a series of owners lived on the property.  In 1914 Colonel Harold C. Bickford built his country estate on 40 acres of land with a view over lake Ontario.  His 33 bedroom mansion, known as Ranelagh Park, is featured in the cover photo.  Bickford fought in the Boer war, was a Brigadier General in the First World War and then led anti-Bolshevic forces in Russia following the war.  He and his family enjoyed the view from atop the Scarborough Bluffs for only a few years before the house was sold in 1921 for use by an order of Catholic Missionaries.  Over the next ten years it also served as a home for a wealthy business man and finally it sat empty for a couple of years.

In 1932 Rosa and Spencer Clark took over the property and started the Guild of All Arts.  Under their management the property was expanded with additions to the house being made throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s.  A 6 story hotel tower was added in 1965 to accommodate all the people who were visiting the artist colony.  The tower sat empty from 2001 until 2009 when it was demolished.  The picture below shows the sprawling mansion as it looks today with all of its additions.

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In 1940 a sculpture studio was built.  Various artist worked here over the years including Dorsey James who created the Norse carvings on the door and along the roof line in 1970.

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The Guild sits on top of the Scarborough Bluffs with beautiful views out over the lake.

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During World War II the property was operated by the Women’s Royal Navy Service.  In 1947 it was returned to the Clarks who picked up where they had left off.  They became concerned that much of the late 19th and early 20th century artwork that decorated buildings in Toronto was being destroyed to make way for new development.  They started to collect or buy interesting parts of demolished buildings and move them to the Guild Inn property where they had them re-assembled.  Today there are parts of over 30 buildings on display on the grounds.

The four Corinthian columns in the picture below stood at the entrance to the Banker’s Bond Building at 60 King Street West.  The Banker’s Bond building was constructed in 1920 and demolished in 1973.

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The building originally looked like this.  The street address sign stood over the doorway but was placed in the middle when the columns were put back together.

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The Bank of Toronto stood on the south west corner of King and Bay streets from 1912 to 1966. The bank was founded in 1857 by George Gooderham, son of William Gooderham who owned Gooderham and Worts distillery in Toronto.  The bank merged with The Dominion Bank on Feb. 1, 1955 to form the Toronto Dominion Bank.  The columns in Guildwood Park have been set up in a different configuration than the original building.  The three arched entrances have been split up and placed on three sides of the monument.

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The Bank of Toronto building in 1915.  The three arches were located side by side at the entrance to the bank.

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The Canadian Bank of Commerce has stood on the north west corner of Yonge and Bloor for over a century.  This ornate date stone was rescued from the 1899 building.  It was removed in 1972 to make way for the new 34 story tower that CIBC built at Two Bloor West.

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The building as it appeared in 1922.

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The Temple Building was constructed in 1896 on the corner of Bay and Richmond Streets.  It was built as the international headquarters for the Independent Order of Foresters who claim to have originated in the 14th century in England as a friendly society caring for the sick.  I love the horses head on the top of this piece.

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At 12 stories it was the tallest building in the city upon completion.  It was demolished in 1970.

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The Royal Conservatory of Music was founded in 1886 as the Toronto Conservatory of Music. Their building at College Street and University Avenue was built in 1897 and demolished in 1968.

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A trail winds it’s way down the hill to where an old construction road leads to the edge of Lake Ontario.  It practically cries out to be explored.  Perhaps another time.

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Today the Guild Inn sits empty once again.  The signs in the window declare it to be a hazard due to asbestos and mold.  It’s future is in question.  Will it get cleaned up or demolished?

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4 thoughts on “Guildwood Park

  1. Pingback: Hiking the GTA #100 – Greatest Treks | Hiking the GTA

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  4. Pingback: Beachcombers – Scarborough Bluffs | Hiking the GTA

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