Guild Park & Gardens is a historic place where art meets nature.
Located on Toronto’s Scarborough Bluffs overlooking Lake Ontario, Guild Park includes 36 hectares (88 acres) of woods, waterfront, formal gardens, plus a unique collection of public art and architectural fragments.
Guild Park is best known as site of the innovative Guild of All Arts, an artists’ community founded in 1932 by philanthropists Rosa and Spencer Clark. During the Depression, the couple supported painters, sculptors, weavers, potters and other artisans by welcoming them to live and work on the grounds of their home.
The Clarks later converted their home into the popular Guild Inn, a destination for artists, royalty and tourists. By the 1960s, Spencer Clark began saving architectural features from notable old buildings – all demolished before protective laws existed. The couple displayed these facades around the gardens and added outdoor sculptures.
The Clarks sold their property in 1978 and the site went into decline. By 2011, the National Trust for Canada listed the Guild Inn on Canada’s Top 10 Endangered Heritage Sites. Fortunately, collaborative efforts by government, the local community and the private sector have renovated and expanded the original Guild Inn building. The entire Guild Park is now being revitalized by the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.
Today, visitors to Guild Park can view sculptures by renowned Canadian artists, including E.B. Cox, Sorel Etrog, Emanuel Hahn, Frances Loring and Florence Wyle. People can also enjoy the marble “Greek Theatre”, made from columns of a 1914 bank, and the notable remnants of the Temple Building, once Canada’s tallest structure. Some of the Clark collection of architectural fragments are also on display at the Campbell House Museum, located in downtown Toronto.