Fragments from Toronto’s architectural past are about to get a new life, in an iconic Scarborough park.
The Guild Park and Gardens is already home to a collection of restored facades from some of Toronto’s most stately old buildings: The Bank of Toronto, for instance; the old Globe and Mail headquarters that stood at King and York streets, the Toronto Fire Department’s 19th century Engine House No. 2 — dozens in all.
And now, a new kind of addition to the collection is on the way, according to Jo Ann Pynn, the city’s manager of cultural assets.
“We have some budgets and we have some partners and we are working with a landscape architect now to design some new locations and some new installations,” Pynn said.
“We have a lot of surplus stone.”
The pieces were gathered by a former owner of the property, philanthropist and arts patron Spencer Clark. From the 1960s to the 1980s, he convinced demolition crews to let him take away some of the stonework that made up the facades of buildings erected during the 1800s and early 1900s.
He had it all brought to his 35-hectare property. Some of those fragments he had re-assembled into the facades of the buildings they once adorned. About 60 of those rebuilt facades now adorn the park. But scores of other chunks remained without a home.
Lions’ heads, faces, rosettes and intricately designed stone patterns — all of them salvaged from long-forgotten buildings — are scattered throughout the 35-hectare site. Some of them are carefully stored in wooden crates, others are lying haphazardly beneath bushes, exposed to the elements.
It’s those pieces that the city now wants to use as raw materials for new, original artworks, Pynn said.
Nine sites throughout the grounds have been selected. Landscape architects and designers are currently creating the new installations. Pynn believes those plans will be finalized and construction commenced by summer, 2020, with a completion date sometime in 2021.
The cost of the project is a minimum of $200,000, she said.
“This is something that the community, and I think people throughout the rest of the city, will be able to enjoy,” Pynn said.
“So, I am really, really enjoying this project.”
On the grounds, another city staff — art historian and project manager Sandra Lougheed — is overseeing the project.
“They’re basically carvings created by very skilled craftsmen who put a lot of time, effort and thought into what they created,” Lougheed said. “Those skills are being lost so that makes them even more precious.”
“An outdoor museum? Yes,” she said. “You don’t go into too many parks and find lovely carvings from buildings assembled in the park.”
As for the pieces that will not be used, Pynn said she hopes community groups can partner with the city to create new sculptures outside the Guild Park and Gardens.
That’s what’s happening in the Grange neighbourhood downtown. Residents, the city and the Campbell House Museum, are creating Relic Park, which will feature sculptures created from stone salvaged from the buildings that once sat in the neighbourhood.