Edwards Gardens – Toronto’s Picturesque Nature Reprieve

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2020 - Edwards Gardens is located at 755 Lawrence Ave E, on the south side, between The Bridle Path and Leslie St in Toronto
2020 – Edwards Gardens is located at 755 Lawrence Ave E, on the south side, between The Bridle Path and Leslie St in Toronto

The serene Edwards Gardens is located at 755 Lawrence Ave E (on the south side, between The Bridle Path and Leslie St) in the North York district of 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 haven for wildlife.

2021 - A bridge and waterfall over Wilket Creek at Edwards Gardens. The park opened in 1956
2021 – A bridge and waterfall over Wilket Creek at Edwards Gardens. The park opened in 1956

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 dreamed 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 – The Chirnside family standing on the bridge on opening day at Edwards Gardens
June 23, 1956 – 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. The creek was named after the Milne family, who began settling the land in 1817
1958 – Edwards Gardens bridge over Wilket Creek. Until the 1950s, it was known as Milne Creek. The creek was named after the Milne family, who began settling the land in 1817 (Toronto Public Library R-6321)
1958 – A winter view of the bridge over Wilket Creek. The tranquil watercourse passes through Edwards Gardens
1958 – A winter view of the bridge over Wilket Creek. The tranquil watercourse passes through 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.”

The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto
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 - Edwards Gardens is located at 755 Lawrence Ave E, on the south side, between The Bridle Path and Leslie St in Toronto
2020 – Edwards Gardens is located at 755 Lawrence Ave E, on the south side, between The Bridle Path and Leslie St in Toronto
June 23, 1956 – Bev Lewis MPP, speaking at opening ceremonies in Edwards Gardens. In 1944, Rupert Edwards, owner of Canada Varnish Ltd, bought the Milne farm. Mr Edwards added landscape features to the property over the next decade before Metropolitan Toronto purchased the property in 1955
June 23, 1956 – Bev Lewis MPP, speaking at opening ceremonies in Edwards Gardens. In 1944, Rupert Edwards, owner of Canada Varnish Ltd, bought the Milne farm. Mr Edwards added landscape features to the property over the next decade before Metropolitan Toronto purchased the property in 1955 (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 – On opening day, the Chirnside family at the fountain in front of the original farmhouse at Edwards Gardens
June 23, 1956 – On opening day, the Chirnside family at the fountain in front of the original farmhouse at Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library 2001-2-379)
2021 - A bridge and waterfall over Wilket Creek at Edwards Gardens. The park opened in 1956
2021 – A bridge and waterfall over Wilket Creek at Edwards Gardens. The park opened in 1956
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 - A stone stairway at Edwards Gardens
2021 – A stone stairway at Edwards Gardens
2020 - A bench in the beautiful gardens
2020 – A bench in the beautiful gardens
Date unknown - Milne House was once located at Edwards Gardens. The house was destroyed by fire in 1962
Date unknown – Milne House was once located at Edwards Gardens. The house was destroyed by fire in 1962 (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 – Wildlife on Wilket Creek
2021 – Wildlife on Wilket Creek
1955 - The Milne House was once located at Edwards Gardens. It belonged to the Milne family, who settled the land in the 1800s. The house was destroyed when a fire swept through it in 1962
1955 – The Milne House was once located at Edwards Gardens. It belonged to the Milne family, who settled the land in the 1800s. The house was destroyed when a fire swept through it in 1962 (Toronto Public Library R-6320)
1958 - The wooden bridge over Wilket Creek at Edwards Gardens
1958 – The wooden bridge over Wilket Creek at Edwards Gardens (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 78, Item 41)
1959 – An aerial view of Wilket Creek, the arched wooden bridge and park at Edwards Gardens
1959 – An aerial view of Wilket Creek, the arched wooden bridge and park at Edwards Gardens (Archives of Ontario I0005646)
1957 – Visitors enjoying the park at Edwards Gardens
1957 – Visitors enjoying the park at Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library 2001-2-298)
2020 - Looking across the wooden bridge over Wilket Creek
2020 – Looking across the wooden bridge over Wilket Creek
1967 – Looking down over the flower gardens to the bridge over Wilket Creek at Edwards Gardens in the springtime
1967 – Looking down over the flower gardens to the bridge over Wilket Creek at Edwards Gardens in the springtime (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 217, Series 249, File 58, Item 01)
2020 - Stone stairs at Edwards Gardens
2020 – Stone stairs at Edwards Gardens
2020 - Muskoka chairs in Edwards Gardens
2020 – Muskoka chairs in Edwards Gardens
2020 - The wishing well planter and the Civic Garden Centre Pavilion at the north end of Edwards Gardens
2020 – The wishing well planter and the Civic Garden Centre Pavilion at the north end of Edwards Gardens
2021 - The peaceful watercourse passing through Wilket Creek Park and Edwards Gardens
2021 – The peaceful watercourse passing through Wilket Creek Park and Edwards Gardens
2021 - A waterfall at Edwards Gardens
2021 – A waterfall at Edwards Gardens
2020 - The Civic Garden Centre Pavilion at the north end of Edwards Gardens. The pavilion was designed by Moriyama & Teshima Architects
2020 – The Civic Garden Centre Pavilion at the north end of Edwards Gardens. The pavilion was designed by Moriyama & Teshima Architects
2021 - Flower beds around the trees in Edwards Gardens
2021 – Flower beds around the trees in Edwards Gardens
2020 - The wishing well planter is located at the north end of Edwards Gardens near Lawrence Ave E
2020 – The wishing well planter is located at the north end of Edwards Gardens near Lawrence Ave E
2020 - The Water Channel at Toronto Botanical Gardens in Edwards Gardens
2020 – The Water Channel at Toronto Botanical Gardens in Edwards Gardens
2020 - ZimSculpt, a Zimbabwean stone sculpture at Toronto Botanical Gardens in North York
2020 – ZimSculpt, a Zimbabwean stone sculpture at Toronto Botanical Gardens in North York
2020 - The beautiful Edwards Gardens and, in the background, the TBG Bloom Cafe
2020 – The beautiful Edwards Gardens and, in the background, the TBG Bloom Cafe
2021 - A landscaped walkway at Edwards Gardens in North York
2021 – A landscaped walkway at Edwards Gardens in North York
1955 - Milne Cemetery at Edwards Gardens
1955 – Milne Cemetery at Edwards Gardens (Toronto Public Library R-6306)
1955 - The gravestone at the Milne family cemetery reads: "Jane, wife of Alexander Milne, died June 3, 1835 - aged 55 years - Native of Forfarshire, Scotland"
1955 – The gravestone at the Milne family cemetery reads: “Jane, wife of Alexander Milne, died June 3, 1835 – aged 55 years – Native of Forfarshire, Scotland” (Toronto Public Library R-6307)
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