Grange Park Toronto Canada

History

Grange Park is a two-hectare green space in downtown Toronto. The park was originally part of The Grange estate built in 1817 by the Boulton family, who played an influential role in developing the young city of Toronto. The area now known as Grange Park served as the Boulton family’s front lawn. The elliptical path for carriages leading to the front door of The Grange remains as a heritage feature in the park today.

Henry Bowyer Lane (British, 1817 – 1878), The Grange, 1840 c, watercolour on paper, Art Gallery of Ontario

Photograph from mid-1860s

Watercolour of the Grange by Henri Perré c 1875

William was mayor of Toronto 4 times–each time by appointment of his fellow aldermen. He was also a member of Parliament. Very fond of horse racing, he was Secretary of the Jockey Club. The St. Leger racetrack was on Grange property.

George Theodore Berthon (Canadian, 1806- 1892), Portrait of William Henry Boulton, 1846, oil on canvas, Art Gallery of Ontario

Goldwin Smith in the Grange library. Goldwin Smith was a scholar, journalist and Harriette Boulton’s second husband. Considered by some to be Canada’s first political scientist, he wrote many books and articles in this library. You can visit the library in The Grange.

This wedding portrait of Harriette was done by artist George Berthon. It is presently on view in the Canadian wing of the AGO. Harriette came from an influential and wealthy Boston family. On her marriage to William, The Grange was put in trust to her as part of what was known as a marriage settlement. This is why the donation of the Grange to the AGO was done in her name.

George Theodore Berthon (Canadian, 1806- 1892), Portrait of Mrs. William Henry Boulton (Harriette), 1846, oil on canvas, Art Gallery of Ontario

Harriette Boulton Smith and Flossy c 1895. Flossy was Harriette’s Skye terrier. On one of Harriette’s birthdays, Goldwin wrote a poem supposedly from Flossie to her mistress. When Flossie died she was buried in the garden. Her tombstone is now in The Grange library anteroom.

1900 plan of the Grange

View of the Elms From the Grange, 1910

In 1910, Harriet Boulton Smith bequeathed The Grange estate to the newly founded Art Museum of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario), for the purposes of building an art museum. In 1911, the Art Museum entered into an Agreement with the City of Toronto to operate the land south of The Grange as a public park. This agreement remains in place between the AGO and the City.

Harriet Boulton Smith’s generosity has been recognized with a ceremonial dedication of part of John Street, from Stephanie to John as ‘Harriet Boulton Smith Way’.

In the mid-1970’s, Grange Park was expanded through the closure of Grange Road (from Beverley to John) and John Street (from Stephanie to Grange Road).

Like many inner city parks, the health and beauty of Grange Park declined over the years. In 2004, the local community began discussions to return the park to its natural beauty. In 2008, an unprecedented partnership was struck among the local community, the City of Toronto and the AGO to undertake a major revitalization of Grange Park. The Grange Park Advisory Committee (GPAC) was formed, with representatives from the neighbourhood, City Parks, AGO and neighbouring organizations, to advise on a restoration and revitalization plan for the park. In consultation with the local community, GPAC created a design brief that outlined a vision for Grange Park.

The Grange Park revitalization project was a true public-private sector partnership, with The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and the City of Toronto as major contributors and additional support from a small group of donors. (see Support)

Landscape architect Greg Smallenberg of Vancouver firm PFS Studio—an award-winning Canadian planning, urban design and landscape architecture firm— developed a design for Grange Park that responded to the vision created by the local community. Aldershot Landscaping Contractors managed the revitalization project. In July 2017, the revitalized Grange Park re-opened to the public.


Grange Park Advisory Committee (GPAC)

The Grange Park Advisory Committee (GPAC) was formed in 2008 to advise on the restoration and revitalization plan for Grange Park. GPAC members included representatives from the Grange Community Association, local social housing, City of Toronto Parks, AGO, OCAD University, University Settlement and St. George the Martyr Church, as well as two members-at-large.

GPAC worked with the local community to develop the vision for Grange Park, provided insight into the design development and kept the community engaged throughout the duration of the project. At the end of the revitalization project, GPAC recommended the creation of a new community management structure, known as the Grange Park Community Council, to provide input on the on-going maintenance and program for Grange Park. This recommendation was approved by a community meeting.