Immerse yourself — and your camera — in the artful history of this Scarborough park that’s rich in relics and wondrous winter views.
Nestled in Guildwood, a leafy Scarborough neighbourhood in Toronto’s east end, Guild Park & Gardens is a magnet for architecture buffs, photographers and avid ’grammers seeking the perfect wintery shot.
Guild Park’s 88-acre property contains gardens, trails and over 70 architectural facades, statues, columns and arches dating from the 1800s and 1900s. Most of these relics were salvaged from downtown office buildings and diverted from rubble as over 60 heritage buildings were demolished to make way for modern skyscrapers in the post-World War II period.
In winter, these sculptural elements take centre stage in a wonderland of pristine white snow, evergreens and leafless maple, ash and birch trees. Here are seven of the best places to shoot your shot this winter.
Once the façade of the circa-1912 Bank of Toronto, the park’s paramount structure is a classical Greek Theatre that, in winter, has a stark beauty (and in summer, is home to the Guild Festival Theatre).
Boasting eight Corinthian columns, this colossal Canadian marble artifact was reassembled from portions of the bank building that once stood at King and Bay Streets in the Financial District, before being torn down in 1966.
The Greek Theatre stands in the heart of Guild Park, overlooking a sculpture garden scattered with architectural fragments and work by sculptors from the arts colony that once used the property. In winter, the grey marble and white snow make a haunting — and popular — backdrop. Wedding photography must be booked in advance through the City of Toronto.
Pro Tip: Waiting around for your photo op at the ever-popular Greek Theatre? Hold your spot by snapping pics in the snowy sculpture garden.
Toronto Star Building
Art Deco architecture was embraced in Toronto for a relatively short period of time, and the circa-1929 Toronto Star office tower was one of the few to be built during this period. It was demolished in 1972 to make way for King Street West’s First Canadian Place. Stacked in a pyramid of impressive size, these colossal limestone blocks offer the merest glimpse at their origin structure’s former 88 m (289 ft) height.
Pro Tip: This is a good location for fun group photos, with faces peeking out from between the ornately carved limestone blocks.
Adjacent to lush evergreen yew hedges, this stunning gateway overlooks the Scarborough Bluffs. The wrought iron gates and terra-cotta stonework were recovered from two different sources. The gates were salvaged from a Rosedale property, while the octagonal terra-cotta piers came from the circa-1890 Produce Exchange Building (which underwent multiple name changes over the years). The terra-cotta pinnacles were saved during a 1950s renovation.
Pro Tip: Come at the blue hour (20-30 minutes after sunset) to capture the contrasting terra-cotta, evergreen yews and luminous white snow under an ephemeral blue hue.
Marble Façade and Woman
Grand in scale and stature, this white marble façade towers over and frames the delicate marble figure of a woman, named Musidora (affectionately dubbed Guild Park’s version of Venus de Milo). This sizeable relic was salvaged from the circa-1928 Imperial Bank of Canada building, which was integrated into the design of a new tower built in 1972. In winter it has an arresting amount of negative space, in contrast to summer, when it is filled with plants.
Pro Tip: Stand back and snap your pic in landscape mode to contrast the towering façade and dainty statue.
This marble arch is another salvaged piece from the circa-1912 Bank of Toronto building that was torn down in 1966 to make way for the Toronto-Dominion Centre. Its beckoning passage and ornate carvings are the perfect shot for any budding photographer. The marble for these pieces came from a quarry in Bancroft, Ontario.
Pro Tip: The archway makes a striking frame for a wintery engagement or couple’s photo. Try arriving after a fresh snowfall and walking from the Guild Inn Estate event hall towards the arch to capture your footprints behind you.
This large Ohio sandstone panel was part of the Art Nouveau-style Canadian Bank of Commerce building which was built in 1899…overtop of a potters’ burial ground. The building was demolished in 1972 and is occupied by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce building at 2 Bloor Street West. With its ornate carvings and balustrade, it’s a popular backdrop year-round.
Pro Tip: This panel’s grey patina isn’t as fresh-looking as some of the other pieces in Guild Park. A bright yellow or deep red #OOTD would really pop for an eye-catching winter photo.
Lake Ontario Lookouts
While not a sculpture or building remnant, the lookouts are must-shoots for their striking lake views. Follow the marked trails — be prepared with sturdy winter boots — and you’ll find a couple of spots that overlook the water below. Obey the safety signs: you are currently atop the Scarborough Bluffs, a 90 m (295 ft)-high cliff formation spanning several kilometres along Lake Ontario. Don’t worry: you’ll find excellent lake views from within the safety boundary.
Pro Tip: Come during snowfall to capture a stunning snowy panorama with forest and lake.
Now that you’ve seen the top of the Scarborough Bluffs, take in the full view of the icy lake, wind-swept barren trees, and sheer cliffs from the Lake Ontario shoreline at Bluffers Park and other Scarborough Bluffs parks.
Getting to Guild Park and Gardens:
Take the Bloor-Danforth subway to Kennedy Station. Board the 116A Morningside bus towards Conlins Road via Ellesmere. Exit the bus at Guildwood Parkway at Chancery Lane.