Allan Gardens – Step Back in Time to a Garden Oasis in Downtown Toronto

1900 - Pavilion Horticultural Gardens (Toronto Public Library r-786)
1900 – Pavilion Horticultural Gardens (Toronto Public Library r-786)

Allan Gardens is located at 160 Gerrard St E and is bordered by Sherbourne, Carlton and Jarvis Sts 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. 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 focal points of the park, 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.

1913 - The Palm House at Allan Gardens
1913 – The Palm House at Allan Gardens

The Palm House Conservatory

In 1910, the Palm House was opened. Designed by 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)
2020 - Allan Gardens Palm House exterior
2020 – Allan Gardens Palm House exterior

Allan Gardens Today

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
1920s – Gathered around the Fountain by the Palm House at Allan Gardens
2020 - Allan Gardens Palm House exterior
2020 – Allan Gardens Palm House exterior
1900 - Pavilion Horticultural Gardens (Toronto Public Library r-786)
1900 – Pavilion Horticultural Gardens (Toronto Public Library r-786)
1899 to 1902 - The interior of the Pavilion decorated for an R.C.Y.C. Ball
1899 to 1902 – The interior of the Pavilion decorated for an R.C.Y.C. Ball
1913 - The Palm House at Allan Gardens
1913 – The Palm House at Allan Gardens
1913 - The Fountain and Palm House at Allan Gardens
1913 – The Fountain and Palm House at Allan Gardens
1913 - Back of Allan Gardens, on present-day Horticultural Lane
1913 – Back of Allan Gardens, on present-day Horticultural Lane
2020 - Back of Allan Gardens, on Horticultural Lane
2020 – Back of Allan Gardens, on Horticultural Lane
1928 - The Fountain at Allan Gardens
1928 – The Fountain at Allan Gardens
2020 - Allan Gardens Children's Conservatory
2020 – Allan Gardens Children’s Conservatory
2020 - Allan Gardens Palm House
2020 – Allan Gardens Palm House
2020 - Allan Gardens Tropical House
2020 – Allan Gardens Tropical House
2020 - Allan Gardens koi pond
2020 – Allan Gardens koi pond
1913 - Robbie Burns Monument at Allan Gardens
1913 – Robbie Burns Monument at Allan Gardens
2020 - Robbie Burns Monument at Allan Gardens, looking east
2020 – Robbie Burns Monument at Allan Gardens, looking east
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