[1 - Marble archway from Imperial Bank of Canada with The Guild hotel in background]
Guildwood Park is 90 acres adjacent to Lake Ontario and the Scarborough Bluffs is operated by the City of Toronto. Inside the park is the Guild Inn, consisting of a 33-bedroom pseudo-Georgian villa built in 1914 as ‘Ranelagh Park’ for Colonel Harold Child Bickford (1876-1956).
[2 - Log cabin on property built circa 1850 - click to enlarge]
From 1921 the property went through a variety of owners including Rosa Bretihaupt Hewetson, heiress to the Hewetson Shoe Company who purchased the villa and 40 acres of property in 1932. Ms Hewetson soon married Herbert Spencer Clark with the Guild becoming their home and private museum. During the Great Depression, the Clarks created The Guild of All Arts.
On property adjoining theirs, they set up cottages and workshops for staff and their families, which later became homes for The Guild’s resident artists. The Clarks provided studio space and some accommodation for those artists who had no other source of income. The Clarks hoped that the artists would be inspired by the beautiful setting to use their creative talents, and, in the process, to earn a living.
[3 - Skunk, one of six animal bas-relief panels from the Bank of Montreal building sculpted by Jacobine Jones]
The majority of the artists’ crafts were practiced in what had been the garage and stables, now known as ‘The Studio’. The area between the Studio and the Inn had been General Bickford’s polo grounds. Soon the Clarks’ dream came true as visitors came in increased numbers. They added dining facilities and guest rooms in the early 1940s, and the Guild earned a reputation as a country inn with talented artists.
[4 - Temple Building blocks in 1895, at nine stories was the tallest building in the British Empire. These are located in the North Garden. Click to enlarge.]
To protect the setting and allow for expanding recreational needs of the country inn, the Clarks purchased surrounding farms and soon their lands amounted to 500 acres, stretching from Lake Ontario to the Kingston Road, and from Livingston Road to Galloway Road.
[5 - Brick wall with stone carvings - Toronto Fire Department Engine House #2 - click to enlarge]
From 1942 to 1947 the federal government requisitioned the property, converting it into a residential training centre for the Womens’ Royal Naval Service (WRENS). It was known as ‘HMCS Bytown II’. After the war, the property became a specialized military hospital in the treatment of personnel suffering from nervous disorders and became known as ‘Scarborough Hall’.
[6 - The Greek Theatre from the Bank of Toronto - click to enlarge]
In 1947 the property was returned to the Clarks and they re-established the Guild of All Arts. When Metropolitan Toronto was formed, property taxes rose at an alarming rate and the Clarks sold 400 acres of their land for development. Spencer Clark oversaw the developers as they created a community that would be called Guildwood Village. With the retained 90 acres around the Guild, the Clarks began to gather pieces of architecture from Toronto’s historic buildings when they were being destroyed to make room for the development of new skyscrapers.
[7 - Angel statue from the North American Life Assurance Company - click to enlarge]
Around the house and on the grounds, Spencer Clark placed his collection of columns, capitals, reliefs, carvings and façade elements taken from banks, churches and office buildings that were being demolished. In 1965, the six story, 100-room east wing was added to The Guild Inn to accommodate the increasing number of visitors who came to see the craftsmen at work and the beautiful gardens on the property.
[8 - Rose Garden - click to enlarge]
In 1978, The Guild and its surrounding lands were purchased by the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and later transferred to the City of Toronto.
[9 - Garden path at south end of property near Lake Ontario - click to enlarge]
As a city park, The Guild is open to all during daylight hours, seven days per week.
[10 - Brick and terracotta entranceway (Produce Exchange Buildings) and iron gates from a Dale Avenue residence near Scarborough Bluffs]
[11 - Gate post detail of photo above - click to enlarge]
It hosts many tours and special events. The walks, trails and gardens are popular with joggers, dog-walkers, birdwatchers allowing escape from the City of Toronto.
[12 - The Greek Theatre with a bridal party]
Although the former arts centre and hotel closed in 2001, the City has recently approved a plan by Centennial College to build a hotel, restaurant, and conference centre on the site.
[13 - At shoreline below Guildwood Park - click to enlarge]