Reconnection of Major Open Spaces

The original land grant for the University was a densely treed, continuous semi-rural landscape. A brief history of the evolution of this landscape illustrates the progressive separation and marginalization of the open spaces in the district.

Prior to 1860, Taddle Creek was a strong feature in the landscape, running along the current alignment of Philosopher's Walk to McCaul's Pond on the current Hart House Green, before splitting into two branches that continued to Lake Ontario along the current alignment of University Avenue and Taddle Creek Road. McCaul's Pond was filled and Taddle Creek disappeared as the city grew and the University developed its academic facilities.

In 1917, a largely unimplemented Landscape Master Plan by landscape architect Bryant Fleming portrayed a "University and a Government Precinct" which appeared as a continuous place, linked by small scale roads and walks. In 1939, the University still had the characteristic of being apart from the city, with large, interconnected, densely treed open spaces.

By 1950, the semi-rural character of the precinct had given way to separated open spaces surrounded by wideroads designed to accommodate the growing number of private automobiles. Many of the large groupings of trees on campus were removed to accommodate building projects and many of the street trees were removed to facilitate road widening. Much of the heavily treed Huron Sussex neighbourhood west of the campus disappeared over the next 15 years as the campus grew towards Spadina Avenue.

While the Taddle Creek Ravine has been gone for close to a hundred years, the original land configuration of the open spaces of the Central Campus, Queen's Park and the Legislature are still in place today. This land base is part of a major pedestrian movement corridor between the St. George Campus and the Federated and Affiliated Colleges and Universities east of Queen's Park Crescent.

Investing in the Landscape has identified a very strong desire, both at the University and the City of Toronto, to reconnect the open spaces of the University district. This desire is reflected in the first Primary Objective of this Plan.

The reconnection of these spaces will require strong leadership on the part of the University. Demonstration Site 1, Hart House Green - Queen's Park - Wellesley Street, provides a good illustration of the results of this approach.


2. The University of Toronto should lead in reconnecting the major open spaces of this district through the redesign of the Hart House Green, Back Campus and King's College Circle and by participating in a program to increase tree planting on campus.

3. The University should support and participate in the traffic calming of Queen's Park Crescent, the removal of the overpass at Wellesley Street in favour of an at-grade intersection, and improvements to pedestrian amenity on Queen's Park Crescent and Wellesley Street to improve the linkages between the open spaces of the St. George Campus, the Federated and Affiliated Colleges and Universities, Queen's Park, and the Ontario Legislature.


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Demonstration Site 1
Demonstration Site 2
Demonstration Site 3
Demonstration Site 4
Demonstration Site 5
Demonstration Site 6