|Getting There |||Carlton Streetcar or Sherbourne Bus|
|Cross Street |||Carlton & Jarvis|
Profile Last Updated: September 22, 2008
Downtown's most prominent gardens were established in 1958, when local politician George William Allan gave the Toronto Horticultural Society a five-acre oval parcel of land to develop and maintain as a botanical garden and pleasure spot. A couple of years later, the first public structure – a rustic pavilion – opened on the site in conjunction with a formal ceremony. Allan then sold the city five adjacent acres in the mid-1860s at a generous rate, on the condition that the space remained publicly accessible and free of charge.
Rising from the Ashes
A new horticultural pavilion, built of iron and glass, was completed in the summer of 1879, and hosted concerts, performances, conventions and flower shows. A fountain was added to the park in 1885 and an ornate iron fence in 1889, establishing the landmark status of Allan Gardens. After the pavilion was destroyed in a fire, the classically proportioned and glass-domed Palm House was spawned in 1910, and stands to this day, alongside five other greenhouses: the Arid House, the Tropical Landscape House, the Cool Temperature House and the Tropical Houses. Those soothingly humid rooms are filled with 16,000 square feet of seasonal plants, and a permanent collection of cacti, ferns, ivy and more creeping from every corner.
The colourful flora, fragrant inspiration and botanical delights contained within the greenhouses make Allan Gardens a true urban retreat. One bench inscription begs passersbys to "Rest awhile and let the flowers touch your soul." The park also contains a statue of Scottish poet Robert Burns, whose famous works include "A Red, Red Rose."