Edwards Gardens – Toronto’s Picturesque Nature Reprieve

2020 - Flowers and trees in Edwards Gardens
2020 – Flowers and trees in Edwards Gardens

The serene Edwards Gardens is located at 755 Lawrence Ave E (on the south side, between The Bridle Path and Leslie St) in Toronto.

The Milne Family

Soon after the War of 1812, a European settlement began in the area. In 1817, the Scottish-born weaver Alexander Milne and his family settled the land. They had a homestead and operated a prosperous saw and woollen mill. The land remained in the family for over a century, and the original 11-hectare property grew to 240 hectares. Subsequent owners of the enormous property allowed it to become overgrown.

Rupert Edwards

In 1944, Rupert Edwards, owner of Canada Varnish Ltd, bought the original Milne farm. With a vision of “a place in the country… with wide-open spaces all around, with plenty of room to move and breath”, Mr Edwards added landscape features to the property over the next decade. They included a 9-hole golf course, ponds, a large rockery, flower beds and picturesque bridges, as well as being a safe haven for wildlife.

2021 - Edwards Gardens bridge and waterfall
2021 – Edwards Gardens bridge and waterfall

Mr Edwards’ vision of a public park came to fruition when in 1955, Metropolitan Toronto purchased the property. A year later, Edwards Gardens opened. Wilket Creek is the tranquil watercourse passing through the gardens and park. Until the 1950s, it was known as Milne Creek.

The Garden Club of Toronto operated out of the Milne House facilities. The club had a dream of creating a centre to provide Torontonians with horticultural information. The result of that became the Toronto Botanical Garden.

In 1962, a fire destroyed the Milne House. The landmark was estimated to be about 95 years old.

For over six decades, visitors have been enjoying the natural beauty and the unique character of the landscape. Edwards Gardens is open daily from dawn until dusk. Access is free.

Edwards Gardens Photos

June 23, 1956 – Looking east towards the Chirnside family standing on the bridge on opening day at Edwards Gardens
June 23, 1956 – Looking east towards the Chirnside family standing on the bridge on opening day at Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library 2001-2-373)
1958 - Edwards Gardens bridge over Wilket Creek. Until the 1950s, it was known as Milne Creek
1958 – Edwards Gardens bridge over Wilket Creek. Until the 1950s, it was known as Milne Creek (Toronto Public Library R-6321)
1958 – A winter view of the bridge at Edwards Gardens
1958 – A winter view of the bridge at Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library R-6322)
2020 – The plaque at Edwards Gardens reads, “European settlement began in this area shortly after the War of 1812. Alexander Milne, a Scottish weaver, arrived here with his family in 1817. Milne's farm and mill operation prospered for over a century, eventually expanding to 240 hectares in size. For many years, the watercourse passing through this park was known as Milne Creek. In 1944, Rupert E. Edwards, proprietor of Canada Varnish Ltd, purchased the original 11-hectare Milne homestead. Over the next 12 years, Mr. Edwards introduced many landscape features into the garden including a large rockery, ponds, rustic bridges, flower beds, and a 9-hole golf course. Mr. Edwards' vision was to see the gardens become a public park. Accordingly, in 1955, Metropolitan Toronto purchased the property and, since then, has maintained the beauty and original character of this unique landscape.”
2020 – The plaque at Edwards Gardens reads, “European settlement began in this area shortly after the War of 1812. Alexander Milne, a Scottish weaver, arrived here with his family in 1817. Milne’s farm and mill operation prospered for over a century, eventually expanding to 240 hectares in size. For many years, the watercourse passing through this park was known as Milne Creek.

In 1944, Rupert E. Edwards, proprietor of Canada Varnish Ltd, purchased the original 11-hectare Milne homestead. Over the next 12 years, Mr. Edwards introduced many landscape features into the garden including a large rockery, ponds, rustic bridges, flower beds, and a 9-hole golf course.

Mr. Edwards’ vision was to see the gardens become a public park. Accordingly, in 1955, Metropolitan Toronto purchased the property and, since then, has maintained the beauty and original character of this unique landscape.” (The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto )
2020 - Flowers and trees in Edwards Gardens
2020 – Flowers and trees in Edwards Gardens
June 23, 1956 – Bev Lewis MPP, speaking at opening ceremonies in Edwards Gardens
June 23, 1956 – Bev Lewis MPP, speaking at opening ceremonies in Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library 2001-2-377)
June 23, 1956 – Listening to the band playing at Edwards Gardens on opening day
June 23, 1956 – Listening to the band playing at Edwards Gardens on opening day (Toronto Public Library 2001-2-378)
June 23, 1956 – Looking west towards the Chirnside family, the fountain and the original farmhouse on opening day at Edwards Gardens
June 23, 1956 – Looking west towards the Chirnside family, the fountain and the original farmhouse on opening day at Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library 2001-2-379)
2021 - Edwards Gardens bridge and waterfall
2021 – Edwards Gardens bridge and waterfall
1958 - View of garden party in Edwards Gardens
1958 – View of garden party in Edwards Gardens (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 78, Item 37)
2021 - Edwards Gardens staircase
2021 – Edwards Gardens staircase
2020 - Edwards Gardens
2020 – Edwards Gardens
Date unknown - Milne House once located at Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library, North York Historical Society NYHS00797)
Date unknown – Milne House once located at Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library, North York Historical Society NYHS00797)
2020 - Forest scenery and walkway at Edwards Gardens
2020 – Forest scenery and walkway at Edwards Gardens
2021 – Pond and wildlife at Edwards Gardens
2021 – Pond and wildlife at Edwards Gardens
1955 - Edwards Gardens
1955 – Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library R-6320)
1958 - Edwards Gardens bridge
1958 – Edwards Gardens bridge (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 78, Item 41)
1959 – The bridge at Edwards Gardens
1959 – The bridge at Edwards Gardens (Archives of Ontario I0005646)
1957 – Looking southeast into Edwards Gardens
1957 – Looking southeast into Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library 2001-2-298)
2020 - Edwards Gardens bridge
2020 – Edwards Gardens bridge
1967 – The bridge at Edwards Gardens in the springtime
1967 – The bridge at Edwards Gardens in the springtime (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 217, Series 249, File 58, Item 01)
1957 – Looking southeast into Edwards Gardens
1957 – Looking southeast into Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library 2001-2-298)
2020 - Edwards Gardens staircase
2020 – Edwards Gardens staircase
2020 - Edwards Gardens
2020 – Edwards Gardens
2020 - Edwards Gardens wishing well and Pavillion
2020 – Edwards Gardens wishing well and Pavillion
2021 - Edwards Gardens
2021 – Edwards Gardens
2021 - Waterfall at Edwards Gardens
2021 – Waterfall at Edwards Gardens
2020 - The Pavillion at Edwards Gardens designed by Moriyama & Teshima Architects
2020 – The Pavillion at Edwards Gardens designed by Moriyama & Teshima Architects
2021 - Flower beds and trees in Edwards Gardens
2021 – Flower beds and trees in Edwards Gardens
2020 - Edwards Gardens
2020 – Edwards Gardens
2020 - Edwards Gardens
2020 – Edwards Gardens
2020 - Edwards Gardens
2020 – Edwards Gardens
2020 - Edwards Gardens
2020 – Edwards Gardens
2021 - Edwards Gardens
2021 – Edwards Gardens
1955 - Milne Cemetery at Edwards Gardens
1955 – Milne Cemetery at Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library R-6306)
1955 - Milne Cemetery
1955 – Milne Cemetery (Toronto Public Library R-6307)
SOURCE