Over 150 years ago this location was the home and location of a mill owned by William Milne. The property passed through several hands until bought in 1944 by businessman Rupert E. Edwards who turned the 27 acres of overgrown land into his summer place.
Even though Edwards personally knew little about how to create a garden from scratch, he aspired to cultivate and beautify the landscape. His first gesture was to acquire over 400 tons of limestone from the Credit Valley, which he used to create an extensive rock garden. A pond was then added by damming Wilket Creek. To maintain the perennials and roses planted amidst the picturesque lawn, and the wildflowers and rhododendrons throughout the rugged valley, a water-wheel was installed.
The man-made hill overlooking the valley now features a limestone lady balancing an urn on her shoulder while carrying a pitcher that pours into a petal-shaped basin at her feet. The fountain was designed for Mr. Edwards by Len Cullen, of Weall and Cullen.
In 1955 he sold the property to the city and it became "Edwards Gardens" a park for everyone to enjoy. Edwards Gardens and Toronto Botanical Garden now acts as a natural and cultural oasis for plants, people and wildlife in the city.
The commemorative plaque reads, "Edwards Gardens. European settlement began in this area shortly after the War of 1812. Alexander Milne, a Scottish weaver, arrived here with his family in 1817. Milne's farm and mill operation prospered for over a century, eventually expanding to 240 hectares in size. For many years, the watercourse passing through this park was known as Milne Creek. In 1944, Rupert E. Edwards, proprietor of Canada Varnish Ltd., purchased the original 11-hectare Milne homestead. Over the next 12 years, Mr. Edwards introduced many landscape features into the garden including a large rockery, ponds, rustic bridges, flower beds, and a 9-hole golf course. Mr. Edwards' vision was to see the gardens become a public park. Accordingly, in 1955, Metropolitan Toronto purchased the property and, since then, has maintained the beauty and original character of this unique landscape."
Toronto Botanical Garden (formerly "The Civic Garden Centre"):
Toronto Botanical Garden (TBG) is a volunteer-based charitable organization whose purpose is to inspire passion, respect and understanding of gardening, horticulture, the natural landscape and a healthy environment. An array of contemporary gardens spanning nearly four acres are designed to educate and inspire the people of Toronto and its visitors. The gardens are open year-round from dawn until dusk and admission is free of charge. TBG also offers a complete range of indoor and outdoor learning experiences for all ages including courses, lectures, workshops, special events, garden tours and an extensive horticultural library. Children's programs for schools, community groups and individuals take place year-round in either The James Boyd Children's Centre or outdoor Teaching Garden located within Edwards Gardens. The
George and Kathy Dembroski Centre for Horticulture, renovated in 2005, exhibits an impressive 5,000 square foot glass pavilion, topped with a sloping green roof. Its numerous halls and studios with adjoining open-air courtyards are ideally suited for weddings, business meetings and other private functions.
Admission / Parking:
There is no fee for admission. There is no fee for parking. There is plenty of parking available on site.
What to Wear:
If you take a walk throughout Edwards Gardens or go on one of the guided group tours, some hills and steps are involved so flat, comfortable shoes are recommended.
Located in the historic barn at the north end of the gardens. Outdoor patio. Open Monday to Friday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Freshly prepared menu: The menu offers freshly prepared muffins, sweet scones, cookies, squares, ice cream, assorted snacks, vegetarian and non-vegetarian sandwiches, Salads, Cold Drinks, Tea and Seattle's Best Coffee.
Washrooms are located in the historic barn, the same building as the TBG Cafe, at the east end of the building (at the opposite end from the cafe).
Free Tours: Tuesdays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Starting May 19, 2009 through the first week of September. Meeting place: This 90-minute tour leaves from shopTBG in The George and Kathy Dembroski Centre for Horticulture. Reservations: Not required for individuals or small groups (less than 6 people). Group tours (6 people or more) must pre-book a private tour: Details.
There is a permit and fee payment required to take wedding photography; call Toronto City Hall at 416-392-8188 well beforehand to obtain a permit; and bring the permit with you on the wedding day otherwise your wedding party may be banned. There are many picturesque locations within Edwards Gardens and designated areas at Toronto Botanical Garden for taking wedding photography.
Weddings and Social Events:
The space at the Toronto Botanical Gardens is available for wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions, special events and all types of private functions. Maximum 240 guests. Contact the TBG Rental office: Details.
Edwards Gardens is a Garden Park. The following activities are not allowed in Edwards Gardens: Dogs or pets, bicycle riding, rollerblading, skateboarding, picnicking, sports activities, feeding wildlife, BBQ's or fires, picking flowers.