John Davidson

Current Projects

Friends of Allan Gardens

The Project

Allan Gardens has a long and complex history as a significant public space in Toronto and as a venue for public enjoyment and education. Opened as a botanical garden in 1860 by the Toronto Horticultural Society, the park was purchased by the City in 1888 and has functioned as a public park ever since. Originally designed as a picturesque landscape in the English Garden tradition, the park was structured by meandering paths stemming from a central plan which, at one time, featured a grand Victorian fountain. The park offered concerts, public lectures and public readings, making it an important hub for the surrounding community. It also featured horticultural displays in its locally-famed conservatory, which to this day continues to house an impressive collection of botanical specimens for public viewing.

Allan Gardens is one of Toronto’s most historically significant public spaces and complex cultural landscapes. It is one of the earliest designed public landscapes in the city, packed with ideas that went on to influence how early Toronto developed around it. Today, in an era of increasing public awareness and interest in public space issues, Allan Gardens can serve once again as a fitting venue for an exploration of creative ideas and future potentials.

The Impact

Beginning with Cormier’s fountain, FOAG hopes to sponsor a series of installations in Allan Gardens that will contribute to revitalization of the park, the cultural corridor of Jarvis Street, and the surrounding neighbourhood. FOAG’s upcoming initiatives will engage the local community and promote thoughtful design as a means of encouraging interaction with public space. We are driven by our conviction that Allan Gardens has the potential to return to the grandeur of its past, while helping to shape the future of Toronto’s parks.

For most of its 150 years as a public horticultural garden, Allan Gardens has been a place of creativity, education, and influence—a fountainhead for new ideas to be explored and demonstrated, ideas that go on to shape the surrounding city. We believe that this is the core cultural value of Allan Gardens, and that today, in the midst of a burgeoning park movement in Toronto, the need for a re-inspired Allan Gardens has never been greater.