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History of Toronto and County of York in Ontario
Part IV: Toronto: Parks, Public Squares, and Cemeteries


In the matter of what have been aptly termed "the lungs of a city," Toronto is amply endowed. She has an abundance of open spaces, carpeted with green and canopied with welcome shade trees, scattered amidst the bricks and mortar. Of these the chief, because the best known, the most central, and the most frequented, is the Queen's Park, which extends from College Street northward to Bloor Street. It is approached by two avenues which meet at its entrance. That from the east, which begins at Yonge Street, and which is variously known as College Avenue, College Street, and Yonge Street Avenue, although it is arcaded by umbrageous trees, and possesses all the possibilities for a noble avenue, is an unspeakably wretched thoroughfare. The roadway is continually being torn up for water-pipe laying, gas-pipe laying or drain construction, and in consequence it is emphatically the very worst in the city, its wretchedness being only equalled by that of the neighbouring sidewalk. The avenue which runs from Queen Street north to the park entrance, is, on the other hand, a thing of beauty—a broad, smooth road, edged by green boulevards, and fringed on either side by a line of stately chestnuts. On entering the park, the first object that meets the view is a mound, rockery and fountain, all of insignificant proportions, .t s true, but forming a pleasant enough object on a hot summer's day, for the grass is always of a vivid green, the miniature garden is scrupulously well kept, the flowers fill the air with perfume, and the plash of the fountain sounds cool and refreshing. In front of the enclosure are two Russian guns captured at Sebastopol. Originally the Park contained considerably more than one hundred acres of ground, but its area has been somewhat curtailed by the leasing of lots for building purposes. The road in front of the guns divides, and sweeping round on either side at the edge of the park the two roads unite again a little to the south of the Bloor Street entrance. The road on the eastern side is bordered by handsome public residences, while that to the west skirts the University Grounds. The two roads thus enclose an o\al space, on the eastern side of which is a dilapidated old building—an eyesore to the place— used a few years ago as an asylum for the incurable insane. Nearly on a line with this, on the western side, and close to the University Grounds, is the "Soldiers' Monument," erected in memory of the volunteers who fell at Ridgeway in 1886; and close by, to the north, is a plain grand pedestal, upon which stands the monument recently erected to the memory of the late Honourable George Brown.

The "Soldiers' Monument," as we have already seen, was erected in 1870, and unveiled on the 1st of July in that year. It is from designs by Mr. Robert Reid, of the firm of Mayor & Reid, Montreal. It stands on a terrace of earthwork four feet high, and consists of a three-storied structure of Nova Scotia sand-stone, surmounted by a figure of Britannia in white-veined Italian marble, of the variety commonly used for garden statuary. Its total height is thirty-six feet. The first story contains a panel on each side, the front, or eastern panel bearing the Royal Arms, the southern the arms of Toronto, the northern those of Hamilton, and the western the following inscription:

Canada
erected this monument
as a memorial
of her brave sons, the volunteers,
who fell at Limeridge,
or died from wounds received in action,
or from disease contracted in service,
whilst defending her frontier in June, 1866.

In the second story are niches, surmounting the panels on the first, and each containing a statue of the same material as that of Britannia. The statue on the eastern side represents Grief, that on the western, Faith, while on each of the remaining sides is the figure of a rifleman. The third story is ornamented with wreaths and military insignia. Each story is-surmounted by a cornice. The steps and base are of Montreal limestone. The monument is surrounded by a fence, consisting of a most unartistic grouping of piled rifles, bayonets and sabres.

The Horticultural Gardens occupy the greater part of the quadrangle enclosed by Gerrard, Sherbourne, Carlton, and Jarvis Streets, extending in the latter direction as far as the rear of the buildings on the east side of Jarvis Street. They contain ten acres of ground, beautifully laid out in lawns, flower-beds, and walks, and most sedulously cared for. They are plentifully providedwith seats, and are a favourite resort—especially for children—Sunday and week days ; and although visitors are allowed perfect freedom to roam where they will, it is very seldom that any act of vandalism is complained of. In the centre of the grounds is a fountain, the largest and finest in Toronto—which, however, is not saying much; and on the western side a handsome three-story pavilion, constructed chiefly of glass, and which is largely used for concerts and dramatic entertainments. The Gardens are the property of the Toronto Horticultural Society, to whom half the grounds were conveyed by deed of gift in 1856 by the Hon. G. W. Allan, and the other half were leased for ninety-nine years by the City Council, who had purchased them for that purpose.

The Island, although not a park n the strict sense of the term, is the most frequented of all the "breathing-places" of Toronto, and is rapidly developing into a summer colony. Perhaps a greater number of people ' visit the Island during a fine week in summer than are attracted in the same time to all the parks, inside and outside the city, put together. One of the greatest attractions of this resort are the free baths, established in 1882. by Mr. Erasmus Wiman, of New York, and named after him.

The other parks of the cny are, Riverside Park, on the corner of Winchester and Sumach Streets, facing the Don, a well-laid-out plot of land, but lamentably destitute of trees: and High Park, at the western limits of the city. Outside the city are, Victoria Park, lying four miles and a-half to the east, o:. the lake shore; and Lorne Park, to the west, and also on the lake shore.

The public squares of Toronto are only two in number, namely, the Normal School grounds, of which mention has already been made, and Clarence Square, a large, sodded, open space in the west end of the city, on the east side of Brock Street.

There are four cemeteries in Toronto, of which two, St, James' and the Necropolis, are beautifuily situated in close proximity to each other on the right bank of the Don. The former—the Church of England cemetery—is much the larger, containing sixty-five acres, beautifully laid out and kept in admirable order. In the centre is a chapel in the florid thirteenth century Gothic style. The grounds slope downwards to the Don, opposite the declivity of Castle Frank. In this cemetery lie Chief Justice Powel, Chief Justice Morrison, and the late Hon. John Hillyard Cameron. The Necropolis lies to the south of St. James', between Sumach Street and the Don, and contains about fifteen acres. It was opened in 1850, and is entirely undenominational. Many prominent actors n the history of the Province rest beneath its sod; among others, William Evon Mackenzie; Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews, both officers under Mackenzie in 1837 ; and the Hon. George Brown. There is yet no monument to mark Mackenzie's resting place. Beyond the city limits, on Yonge Street, is St Michael's— the Roman Catholic—cemetery, and still further north Mount Pleasant, an undenominational burying-ground, opened within the last few years. It covers fifteen acres of ground, and is tastefully laid out in parterres, lawns, and drives, with miniature lakes and rustic bridges.

Before quitting the subject of the cemeteries, a word must be said about the Old Military Burying Ground. It is situated to the west of Bathurst Street, in the vicinity of the Old Fort, and contains the remains of the British soldiers who died while their regiments were stationed in Toronto. The Potter's Field, another old cemetery, used to be situated on the north side of Bloor Street, but its last vestiges have been obliterated, and the remains which were once interred there now lie in the Necropolis.


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