A Little Piece of Toronto History: The Guild Inn and Sculpture Gardens

Take a trip to the east end of Toronto and you will find sitting atop the picturesque Scarborough Bluffs one of Toronto's oldest hotels and an eclectic garden filled with lovely trees, a stunning view of Lake Ontario and oddly enough ruins of old Toronto buildings.

Located at 201 Guildwood Parkway in Scarborough the Inn itself started as an Arts and Crafts-style manor house built in 1914 for Colonel Harold Bickford, was sold to the Roman Catholic Church's Foreign Mission Society in 1921, quickly abandoned and then vacant until 1932 when Rosa Heweston (who later married Herbert Clark) purchased it. The Clarks fostered arts, turning the home into a museum, and naming it The Guild of All Arts. Across the property they had workshops for artists and also began collecting architectural pieces from buildings being demolished in Toronto.

From 1942 until 1947 the property was leased by the Crown in Right of Canada and was used first as a base for the Women's Royal Naval Service and later as a hospital for the treatment of nervous disorders. The house was then returned to the Clarks but 6 years later they were forced to sell a majority of the land to developers and retained about 90 acres to continue their collection of building pieces and facades. In 1978 the remaining property and architectural fragments were sold to the Province of Ontario to be maintained as a public park.

The Guild Inn itself proved to be popular as a lakeside resort and artisans' community and in 1965 a six storey, 100 room addition and a swimming pool were added. Over the years the popularity of the location declined and by 1993 the property was turned over to the Municipality of Toronto, and by 2001 the hotel and restaurant were both closed and now only the park remains open.

If you haven't been to the Guild it is worth a visit. The Inn is currently in pretty bad condition but the view is stunning and the building monuments are totally unexpected.You'll see a six animal bas-relief panel from the Bank of Montreal building, columns from the Banker's Bond Building, sculptures by Sorel Etrog, panels from the North American Life Assurance Company, bas-relief panels from the Globe and Mail Building and a stone mantelpiece from the Frederick Banting House. Check out the pictures below and if you plan on going I recommend printing a copy of the Guild Sculpture Gardens Walking Guide so you know what you're looking at.

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