Featured Parks

Village of Yorkville Park

Village of Yorkville Park

Originally a parking lot converted into a neighbourhood park, it was designed with elements taken from Yorkville’s history and Canada’s diverse geographical landscape. Each landscape represents a distinct garden feature including a grove, herb garden and marsh. This Toronto landmark has received the American Society of Landscape Architects Award, the City of Toronto Urban Design Award of Excellence and the International Downtown’s Association Award of Merit.

This park features: Award-winning design, diverse gardens, unique landscape features

People at the ParkIn the 1950s, the Bloor subway line was being built and a row of Victorian row houses were demolished to make way for construction. Residents voiced their desire for a park to be built over the subway, but instead a parking lot was constructed to provide spaces for commuters.

In 1973, the City agreed to create a park, and in 1991 the City hosted a design competition. A jury composed of local residents and design professionals selected Oleson Worland Architects, in association with Martha Schwartz / Ken Smith / David Meyer Landscape Architects, who presented a scheme to turn the parking lot into a park that celebrates the history of the Village of Yorkville and reflects the diversity of the Canadian landscape.

In creating the new park, the objectives were:

  • To reflect, reinforce and extend the Victorian scale and character of the original village;
  • To provide unique, inner-city ecological opportunities for the introduction of and display of native plant species and communities;
  • To provide a variety of spatial and sensory experiences, landscape qualities and park functions;
  • To link the park to existing pedestrian walkways and adjacent areas.

To achieve these objectives the park was designed in a series of gardens. The gardens vary in width and the frames of the gardens are symbolic of the lot lines of the row of houses that once stood on the site. Each contains a distinct collection of plant communities - ranging from upland conifer and deciduous species at the east end of the park to lowland / wetland varieties and a granite outcropping in the central areas to shade gardens at the west end. This contemporary variation on the traditional garden is one that engages the imagination as well as the senses.

In the words of one of the landscape architects, “We designed the park to reflect the Victorian style of collecting. In this case we were collecting landscapes of Canada – pine grove, prairie, marsh, rock outcropping and so on – and arranging them in the manner of the nineteenth century row houses”.

Village of Yorkville Park Photo GalleryThe collections of landscapes in the park vary in width with each of the frames representing the lot lines of former row houses situated in the space.

Amelanchier Grove

At the western and most heavily shaded end of the park, you will find a strip of native shadblow serviceberry trees grown in a bed of ferns, Virginia bluebells and white trillium.

Herbaceous Border Garden

This intimate garden of shrub and perennial species displays a wide variety of plants including flowering dogwood, hosta, daylily, and astilbe.

The Canadian Shield Clearance and Fountain

Known as the Clearing, it is a place for people to meet. In the centre stands a large outcropping of native Canadian Shield granite. To the east of the Clearing is a curtain of water that recalls the gentle fall of rain.

Alder Grove

In early spring the elongated catkins of the alders open to provide colour and visual interest.

Ontario Marsh

Wooden boardwalks invite you to criss-cross the Village of Yorkville marsh. It contains a special mixture of wetland meadow vegetation which from spring to fall provides multiple colours and textures. The meadow species include Joe-pye Weed, Cardinal Flower, White Turtlehead, and a variety of sedges.

Festival Walk

At the Festival Walk you will find an arbour planted with purple clematis, red honeysuckle and white silverlace vines. These twining and climbing vines produce superb spring, summer and late autumn show. The paving of the walkway reflects the pattern of an extended film strip, in recognition of Yorkville’s role within the Toronto International Film Festival.

Crabapple Orchard

Reminiscent of the apple, cherry or pear orchards that could be found 150 years ago in the Village of Yorkville; a small grove of flowering Makamik crabapples creates a fragrant canopy of blossoms in the spring.

Fragrant Herb Rock Garden

Beside the orchard you will see a raised garden built of Muskoka granite in the manner of the early Ontario settlers who used stone fences to separate their fields. The fragrant garden displays a mixture of perennial herbs and flowing alpine species that have been chosen to provide fragrance and colour.

Birch Grove

Flanked by the rock garden to the west and meadow garden to the east, this area is planted in a random manner with native river birch trees.

Prairie Wildflower Gardens

Flanking a stone path of Muskoka granite, you will see a garden planted with a mixture of prairie grasses and wildflowers. Many of the plants found in the gardens are representative of prairie and wildflower species native to Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Pine Grove

Here you will see a grove of Scots pines set on a paved plaza. Pre-cast seating rings encircle the trees, and are interspersed with columnar lights, which emit a gentle fog to simulate the early morning atmosphere of an evergreen forest.

The Rock

The rock is a favourite meeting place. Approximately 1 billion years old, the rock weighs 650 tonnes and represents the roots of an ancient mountain range that has long since eroded. The rock was removed in pieces from the Canadian Shield and transported on 20 flatbed trailers to Toronto. As each rock section arrived, it was reassembled to minimize visible joints.