Chorley Park

This is the site of the former “Government House” or Ontario’s Viceregal Palace, which was called Chorley Park. It was built between 1911 &1915 for over a million dollars. Chorley Park was magnificent; as seen from the Don Valley or from Douglas Drive, and framed by mature trees, it was wonderfully picturesque. Modelled on the French Renaissance chateaux of the Loire Valley and roofed in red ceramic tile, it far outshone even the governor general’s residence at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. The gardens surrounding the house combined a formal entrance with a more informal series of terraces above the slope of the site. The formality of the house was thus complemented without breaking- the natural character of the view from the valley.

In 1909, according to William Dendy, in his book Lost Toronto, the Provincial Government decided to build a new grand Government House at the corner of Bay and Bloor Streets (where the Manufacturers’ Life building presently stands) to replace the 1870 building at Simcoe and King. A competition for design saw twelve architects submit projects. However, two years later in 1911, the site was changed to Douglas Drive in Rosedale and new designs were drawn up by the Provincial Architect. The first site was sold because that area was becoming too commercial. The proceeds were used to acquire the land, which is now this park, and construction began.

However, the upkeep proved too expensive, so in 1937 the building was closed. During W.W.II it became a military hospital and remained so until 1956. The grounds were gradually overrun by temporary buildings, some of which were used to receive refugees when the Hungarian Revolution collapsed in 1956. In 1959 it was razed and the site was preserved as a park. The only trace of Government House left is the bridge to the forecourt. (For further information on Chorley Park, read “Lost Toronto” by Wm. Dendy, pages 220 & 221 & others.