ALLAN GARDENS PARK & CONSERVATORY
A major landmark and tourist attraction in downtown Toronto, Allan Gardens has as its center the great Victorian Palm House designed by architect Robert McCallum in 1910.
The park, which is one of the city’s oldest, was established in 1858 after one-time Mayor and long-time Senator, George William Allan, donated property to the city of Toronto.
An original oval of five acres was donated to the Society by the Honorable George W. Allan and on September 11, 1860 the Horticultural Gardens were opened by the Prince of Wales (Edward VII). Additional land was leased from the municipality of Toronto in 1864 and in 1888, the park was turned over to the city. It was named Allan Gardens in 1901.
The current Palm House was built after an original smaller pavilion burned down in 1902. Its great glass dome covers palm trees and rare tropical plants from around the world.
The Palm House encloses over sixteen thousand square feet of gardens and contains the largest collection of Pandanus (Madagascar tropical pine) in Toronto. The permanent plant collection includes orchids, hibiscus, cacti, caladiums and various palm trees.
The park is also the current home of two smaller greenhouses which were moved from the University of Toronto complex at the corner of Jarvis Street to Allan Gardens in 2002.
“From 1931 to 2002, these greenhouses, designed by Toronto Architects Mathers and Haldenby in association with the Lord and Burnham Company in New York, were situated at the corner of College Street and Queens’s Park on the St. George campus of the University of Toronto. When the first opened in, the facility was the largest botanical research institute in Canada. Over 600 species of plants from around the world were grown in these greenhouses and they were instrumental in exposing generations of students to the world’s plant diversity. These greenhouses supported research that led to disease resistance in crops and improved agricultural yields”.
Today, the greenhouses are known as the Allan Gardens Children’s Conservatory and they continues to fulfill the mission of educating and inspiring young people.
They were originally owned by the Toronto Horticultural Society which was founded in 1834 under the patronage of Sir John Colborne, lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada (1828- 36). This was the first horticultural society organized in the province of Ontario.
Established to encourage the introduction and cultivation of improved varieties of fruits, plants and vegetables, its first president was the Honourable George Markland, inspector-general of Upper Canada.
The University of Toronto donated the structures and in partnership with the TD Bank Financial Group, funded their restoration and relocation from the St. George campus to this site in 2003-2004.