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June 18, 2003
Allan Gardens groundbreaking celebrates the arrival of the University of Toronto greenhouse
  
Parks and Recreation - Councillor Kyle Rae (Ward 27 Toronto
Centre-Rosedale), Patrick Gossage, Chair of the Toronto Preservation Board for
the City of Toronto and David Winterton, Chair of the Friends of Allan Gardens
participated in a groundbreaking ceremony today to celebrate the arrival of the
University of Toronto Greenhouse at Allan Gardens off Carlton Street at Jarvis
Street.

Special guests Sheldon Levy, Vice President, Government and Institutional
Relations, University of Toronto and Scott Mullin, Vice President, Government
and Community Relations for TD Bank Financial Group also participated in the
groundbreaking ceremony.
The University of Toronto donated the historic greenhouse and in cooperation
with TD Bank Financial Group will fund their restoration and reconstruction.

"I hope the relocation of the greenhouse to Allan Gardens will open the world
of plants and ecology to many children in Toronto," said Mr. Levy. "From their
young minds to future great minds, U of T is proud to share in this historic
move."

"This is a wonderful project. Together we're creating a facility for urban
youth to learn about the environment, revitalizing Allan Gardens and saving a
unique piece of Toronto's history," said Mr. Mullin.

Moving the greenhouse and rebuilding it beside the Palm House will be completed
in 2004.

"The addition of the 1,500 square feet of the U of T greenhouse to the existing
historical greenhouses will allow Parks and Recreation to provide students with
a hands-on growing experience and study of the ways in which environment
affects plants," said Don Boyle, Director, Parks and Recreation.

The Allan Gardens Conservatory covers 16,000 square feet and is comprised of
the historic Palm House and five greenhouses for public displays: the Arid
House, the Tropical Landscape House, the Cool Temperature House and the
Tropical Houses. Visitors have a chance to see cool temperate, warm temperate,
and arid zone plants from different climatic regions of the world. Displays
offer plants native to Australia, Brazil, China, the West Indies, Mexico, South
Africa and the Himalayas. A substantial number of plants are original to the
conservatory, showing that, although out of their natural environments, they
can be preserved with practical knowledge and constant care.

Backgrounder
Allan Gardens Revitalization
  • In response to a sense of the lost potential of Allan Garden's as a much historied Toronto green space and Conservatory, a group of concerned citizens formed Friends of Allan Gardens in 1999. In 2000, the City of Toronto formed the Allan Gardens Revitalization Committee.
  • The Allan Gardens Revitalization Committee members are:
    • Arthur Beauregard, Manager, Natural Environment & Horticulture, Parks & Recreation Division, EDCT
    • Fiona Chapman, Policy Officer, Policy and Development Division, EDCT
    • Denise Gendron, Manager of Preservation Services, Culture Division, EDCT
    • Chris Kennedy, Superintendent of Allan Gardens, Parks & Recreation Division, EDCT
    • Frank Kershaw, Director of Policy and Development, EDCT (Chair)
    • Lorie Milone, member of Garden District Corporation
    • Councillor Kyle Rae, (Toronto Centre Rosedale, Ward 27)
    • David Winterton, Chair, Friends of Allan Gardens
    • TEDNA (Toronto and East Downtown Association)
  • Since 2000, the City of Toronto has commissioned three studies on Allan Gardens:
    1. A building audit by Baird Sampson Neuert which led to over $2 million in spending on an essential, state-of-good repair program for the existing conservatories.
    2. A market research and financial viability study by Roger Jones and Associates which recommended ways to enlarge and improve the facilities to increase visitation to the Gardens.
    3. A Heritage Conservation Management Strategy by Commonwealth Historic Management Ltd. which provided a valuable history of Allan Gardens and guidance in reviving the historic park.
    4. With the three studies complete, the Allan Gardens Revitalization Committee recently brought together a diverse group of citizens from across Canada, representing a range of disciplines, to synthesize the reports and assist with creating a vision for Allan Gardens.
  • The Allan Gardens Revitalization Committee will prepare a report to Council with its final recommendations for revitalizing Allan Gardens. This will be presented in the near future.
The University of Toronto Greenhouse:
  • The U of T greenhouses, opened in 1932 at the northwest corner of University Avenue and College Street, were the focal point of teaching and research for the Department of Botany.
  • Critical research included focus on ecological studies of pollination, plant diseases and pest-resistance, which led to the development of resistant crops and improved agricultural yields.
  • Every year 1600 first year science students took a guided tour through the greenhouses to learn the principles of botany and ecology. Each U of T medical student took first year biology and many say to this day that lasting memories were created from that tour. The greenhouses also welcomed high school and elementary classes over the years, and hospital patients and members of the public enjoyed the unique, lush environment with over 600 plant species.
  • The site at the northwest corner of College and University is being redeveloped for the Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building, the only faculty of pharmacy in the province of Ontario. The department of botany is continuing its research and teaching in new state-of-the-art greenhouse facilities located on the top of the Earth Sciences Building.
  • TD Bank Financial Group donated funds to move the remaining two greenhouse wings to Allan Gardens and to facilitate a children's horticultural program at their new location.
  • TD Bank Financial Group has a strong tradition of investing in two of Canada's most important assets - our children and our environment.
  • The relocation of the U of T greenhouse and the two wings to Allan Gardens is a further step towards the revitalization of Allan Gardens. The children's conservatory will be a primary component of the overall Allan Gardens master plan.
  • The greenhouse is tentatively scheduled to open for children's programming by fall 2004.
  • When relocated to Allan Gardens, the greenhouse will be added to the existing Arid House. Its entrance will face Carleton Street (the eastward extension of College St. on which it previously faced).
Allan Gardens history:
  • William Allan purchased Park Lot V in 1819 and named it Moss Park after his birthplace in northeastern Scotland. Construction of the brick mansion began in 1827 and was ready for the family to occupy in 1829.
  • Allan's only son, George William, had a house called Homewood built on the northern part of the Lot V in 1847. It is George who, continuing his father's interest in horticulture, donated the middle portion of the lot to the Toronto Horticultural Society for the enjoyment of the citizens of Toronto. These grounds were opened to the public in 1860, the same year as Queen's Park.
  • On a social level, the Gardens, donated by George Allan in 1858, are an example of private-sector philanthropy - a very generous gift to the citizens of Toronto. This legacy of green space was, in his words, intended - to promote the interest of horticulture and at the same time prove a new source of healthful recreation and a rational enjoyment for their fellow citizens.
  • In 1858, they were referred to as the Botanical Gardens. By 1863, however, it had become the Horticultural Gardens, and as early as 1879 The Globe mentioned it as Allan Gardens. It was officially so named in 1901 to honour George William Allan (1822-1901); the man whose vision, generosity, and dedication had brought the Gardens into being and sustained them through the difficult years before the City became sole owner in 1888.
  • Allan Gardens is the site of two previous pavilions that provided venues for a variety of events including horticultural exhibits, concerts, and lectures. The park surrounding the pavilions was contained by a fence and included gardenesque plantings and, for many years, an elaborate iron fountain. A system of paths offered meandering strolls through wooded areas and linked the various parts of the Gardens.
  • The Palm House was built in 1909-10 and designed by Robert McCallum - Toronto's city architect.
  • The present day Arid House and Tropical Houses were both built prior to 1912 (constructed to the designs of the Lord and Burnham Co.) and moved from Exhibition Park in 1956-57.
  • The Gardens were placed on the City of Toronto's Inventory of Heritage Properties in 1973 and designated in 1986 by City Council under the Ontario Heritage Act.


Media contacts:
Economic Development, Culture & Tourism Media Hotline
416-560-8726
Mary Alice Thring, University of Toronto, Department of Public Affairs
416-946-8369



 

 

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