Allan Gardens – Opened in 1860 & One of Toronto’s Oldest Parks

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Circa 1900 – Looking southeast towards the Pavilion Horticultural Gardens at Allan Gardens. Notice the Jarvis Street Baptist Church steeple in the background
Circa 1900 – Looking southeast towards the Pavilion Horticultural Gardens at Allan Gardens. Notice the Jarvis Street Baptist Church steeple in the background (Toronto Public Library R-786)

Allan Gardens is located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto.

The Allan Family’s Passion for Horticulture

In 1834, Sir John Colborne founded the Toronto Horticultural Society. It was the first in Ontario and was established to introduce and cultivate better varieties of plants, fruits and vegetables.

The Honourable George William Allan, a noted philanthropist, politician and land developer, donated 5 acres of land from his Moss Park Estate to the Society, and in 1860, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) was on hand to open the Horticultural Gardens. The Society leased more land from the government in 1864, and in 1888, the park was given (deeded) to the City. In 1901, the park and conservatory were named Allan Gardens.

The Grand Three-Storey Pavilion

The iconic Palm House and complex are the park’s focal points, but before that, there was a building called the Pavilion from 1878 to 1902. It and many splendid plants were destroyed by a fire. There was also an ornate fountain coming up the main walk, which survived the fire.

The Palm House Conservatory

February 18, 1913 - The Palm House at Allan Gardens, located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
February 18, 1913 – The Palm House at Allan Gardens, located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 541)

In 1910, the Palm House was opened. Designed by architect Robert McCallum, the Victorian-style conservatory is made from glass, steel, brick and wood and features a 16-sided dome. Over the years, greenhouses were added, including:

  • Cool Temperate House (built 1924)
  • Tropical Landscape House (built in 1956)
  • Arid House & Tropical Houses (built in 1957 and moved from Exhibition Place)
  • Children’s Conservatory (built in 1931 and moved from the University of Toronto)

Allan Gardens Today

2022 - Allan Gardens is located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2022 – Allan Gardens is located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto

The Palm House was listed on the city’s inaugural Inventory of Heritage Properties in 1973. It was amended in 2013 to include the property.

Today, the indoor botanical conservatory features over 16,000 square feet of colourful flowers and plants in 6 greenhouses.

The park features display gardens, a playground, teaching gardens, historical horticultural gardens, a monument to Robbie Burns and an off-leash dog area.

Allan Gardens Photos

1920s - Gathered around the fountain by the Palm House at Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
1920s – Gathered around the fountain by the Palm House at Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 1943)
2020 – In 1910, the Palm House was opened. Designed by architect Robert McCallum, the Victorian-style conservatory is made from glass, steel, brick and wood and features a 16-sided dome
2020 – In 1910, the Palm House was opened. Designed by architect Robert McCallum, the Victorian-style conservatory is made from glass, steel, brick and wood and features a 16-sided dome
2022 - Allan Gardens is located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto. Notice the Equilibrium mural by Okuda San Miguel on the east facade of Parkside Student Residences
2022 – Allan Gardens is located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto. Notice the Equilibrium mural by Okuda San Miguel on the east facade of Parkside Student Residences
July 24, 1925 – The Palm House and greenhouse at Allan Gardens in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
July 24, 1925 – The Palm House and greenhouse at Allan Gardens in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 1, Item 684)
2022 -  Looking southwest towards the Palm House at Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St E in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2022 – Looking southwest towards the Palm House at Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St E in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
Circa 1900 – Looking southeast towards the Pavilion Horticultural Gardens at Allan Gardens. Notice the Jarvis Street Baptist Church steeple in the background. The Pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1902. It was replaced by the Palm House in 1910
Circa 1900 – Looking southeast towards the Pavilion Horticultural Gardens at Allan Gardens. Notice the Jarvis Street Baptist Church steeple in the background. The Pavilion was destroyed by fire in 1902. It was replaced by the Palm House in 1910 (Toronto Public Library R-786)
Between 1899 to 1902 - The interior of the Pavilion was decorated for an R.C.Y.C. Ball
Between 1899 to 1902 – The interior of the Pavilion was decorated for an R.C.Y.C. Ball (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1587, Series 409, Item 9)
Circa 1890 - Allan Gardens Pavilion interior
Circa 1890 – Allan Gardens Pavilion interior (Toronto Public Library R-5580)
1886 – The Pavilion was once in Allen Gardens from 1878 to 1902. Destroyed by fire, the Pavilion was replaced by the Palm House in 1910
1886 – The Pavilion was once in Allen Gardens from 1878 to 1902. Destroyed by fire, the Pavilion was replaced by the Palm House in 1910 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 558)
February 18, 1913 - The Palm House at Allan Gardens, located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
February 18, 1913 – The Palm House at Allan Gardens, located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 541)
2021 –  Looking west towards the Palm House at Allan Gardens. The Palm House was listed on the city’s inaugural Inventory of Heritage Properties in 1973. It was amended in 2013 to include the property
2021 – Looking west towards the Palm House at Allan Gardens. The Palm House was listed on the city’s inaugural Inventory of Heritage Properties in 1973. It was amended in 2013 to include the property
September 13, 1913 – Looking west towards the drinking fountain, water fountain and Palm House at Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St  in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
September 13, 1913 – Looking west towards the drinking fountain, water fountain and Palm House at Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Sub Series 52, Item 101)
2022 -  Looking southwest towards the Palm House at Allan Gardens. Notice the Jarvis Street Baptist Church steeple in the background on the left
2022 – Looking southwest towards the Palm House at Allan Gardens. Notice the Jarvis Street Baptist Church steeple in the background on the left
November 20, 1913 – Looking north towards the Palm House at Allan Gardens from Horticultural Ave in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
November 20, 1913 – Looking north towards the Palm House at Allan Gardens from Horticultural Ave in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Sub Series 52, Item 232)
2023 - Looking west towards the Horticultural Ave sign and notice the Jarvis Street Baptist Church steeple in the background  in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2023 – Looking west towards the Horticultural Ave sign and notice the Jarvis Street Baptist Church steeple in the background in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2020  – Looking east towards the back of the Palm House at Allan Gardens from Horticultural Ave in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Looking east towards the back of the Palm House at Allan Gardens from Horticultural Ave in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Looking northeast towards the back of the Palm House at Allan Gardens from Horticultural Ave
2020 – Looking northeast towards the back of the Palm House at Allan Gardens from Horticultural Ave
August 23, 1928 – Looking east towards the fountain at Allan Gardens in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
August 23, 1928 – Looking east towards the fountain at Allan Gardens in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 696)
2020 – Allan Gardens is located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Allan Gardens is located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Inside the Palm House at Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Inside the Palm House at Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne St, Carlton St and Jarvis St in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – Inside the Palm House at Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St E
2020 – Inside the Palm House at Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St E
2020 – Inside the Palm House at Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St E
2020 – Inside the Palm House at Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St E
2020 – Looking southwest towards the domes of the Palm House at Allan Gardens
2020 – Looking southwest towards the domes of the Palm House at Allan Gardens
2020 – Looking west towards the Palm House in Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St E in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto. Notice the Equilibrium mural by Okuda San Miguel on the east facade of Parkside Student Residences
2020 – Looking west towards the Palm House in Allan Gardens located at 160 Gerrard St E in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto. Notice the Equilibrium mural by Okuda San Miguel on the east facade of Parkside Student Residences
Circa 1910 – Postcard of the fountain once at Allan Gardens
Circa 1910 – Postcard of the fountain once at Allan Gardens (Toronto Public Library PC_4038)
2020 – The Palm House at Allan Gardens
2020 – The Palm House at Allan Gardens
2023 - The heritage plaque reads: 

Palm House 1910 - Robert McCallum, Architect 

Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act - Toronto Historical Board
2023 – The heritage plaque reads:

Palm House 1910 – Robert McCallum, Architect

Designated under the Ontario Heritage Act – Toronto Historical Board
Toronto Horticultural Society 

“Founded in 1834 under the patronage of Sir John Colborne, lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada (1828-36), this was the first horticultural society organized in this province. Established to encourage the introduction and cultivation of improved varieties of fruits, plants, and vegetables, its first president was the Honourable George Markland, inspector-general of Upper Canada. An oval of five acres was donated to the Society by the Honourable George W. Allan and on September 11, 1860, the Horticultural Gardens were opened by the Prince of Wales (Edward VII). Additional land was leased from the municipality of Toronto in 1864 and in 1888, this park was turned over to the city. It was named Allan Gardens in 1901.” 

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario
2023 – The heritage plaque reads:

Toronto Horticultural Society

“Founded in 1834 under the patronage of Sir John Colborne, lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada (1828-36), this was the first horticultural society organized in this province. Established to encourage the introduction and cultivation of improved varieties of fruits, plants, and vegetables, its first president was the Honourable George Markland, inspector-general of Upper Canada. An oval of five acres was donated to the Society by the Honourable George W. Allan and on September 11, 1860, the Horticultural Gardens were opened by the Prince of Wales (Edward VII). Additional land was leased from the municipality of Toronto in 1864 and in 1888, this park was turned over to the city. It was named Allan Gardens in 1901.”

Archaeological and Historic Sites Board of Ontario
1913 – The Robbie Burns Monument at Allan Gardens in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
1913 – The Robbie Burns Monument at Allan Gardens in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1548, Series 393, Item 3134)
2020 - The Robbie Burns Monument at Allan Gardens in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
2020 – The Robbie Burns Monument at Allan Gardens in the Garden District neighbourhood of Toronto
1899 - Goads Map showing the location of the Allan Horticultural Gardens
1899 – Goads Map showing the location of the Allan Horticultural Gardens (Toronto Public Library)
SOURCE

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