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A City Within a Park; Uncovering Toronto's Secret Green Spaces

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Toronto's known for the wealth of gardens and green spaces that grace our fair city, and everyone has their big fancy favourite like High Park or Trinity-Bellwoods, but how about shedding a little light on some of the lesser-known green spaces around the GTA? Curbed Toronto asked for your nominations for the best out-of-the-way parks, and you came through. Have a look at our map; would you add any spots?


· Cool Map Thing [Curbed Toronto]
· All Outdoors Week 2014 posts [Curbed Toronto]

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1. Cloud Gardens

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14 Temperance Street, Toronto
ON M5H 1Y4, Canada

Cloud Gardens sits on the block that runs east of Bay Street, between Temperance and Richmond. It's got several discrete themed areas, and terraces that are laid out over several storeys. A pretty cool place, and one that not a lot of people seem to use.

2. Craigleigh Gardens Park

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Craigleigh Gardens, 160 South Drive, Toronto
ON M4W, Canada

In the heart of South Rosedale, Craigleigh Gardens was originally the site of the estate of Edmund Boyd Osler, a 19th-century Toronto businessman. After Osler's death in 1924, the land was donated to the city for use as a public park. Enter off South Drive, through the old stone-and-iron gate.

3. Courtyard at Knox College, U of T

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Knox College, University of Toronto - St. George Campus, 59 Saint George Street, Toronto
ON M5S 3H8, Canada

Like a lot of spots on the UofT campus (Robarts not included), this sedate spot has a classic Ivy-League/Oxbridge feel to it. Flake out on the quad or in the shade of the gallery.

4. Hideaway Park

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23 Audley Avenue, Toronto
ON M4M 2W2, Canada

You could live in Leslieville for years and never know about tiny Hideaway Park, tucked in between two north-south alleys just south of Dundas Street near Pape Avenue. Neighbours are fiercely protective of and keep a watchful eye out for littering and other antisocial behaviour, but it's a friendly place with a kids' playground, a small off-leash doggy area, and water fountains.

5. Courtyard, St. George the Martyr

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205 John Street, Toronto
ON M5T 1X6, Canada

A spot for quiet contemplation, possibly shared with a cat. Apparently it does double duty as a makeout spot.

6. Toronto Music Garden

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479 Queens Quay West, Toronto
ON M5V, Canada

How many cities can boast a park designed by Yo-Yo Ma? The cellist designed The Music Garden (along with landscape designer Julie Messervy) as an interpretation of a Bach cello suite, and each section of the garden corresponds to a movement in the composition. Warning: listening to Lady Gaga while hanging out here may cause existential conflict.

7. Toronto Sculpture Garden

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115 King Street East, Toronto
ON M5C 1G6, Canada

The Sculpture Garden is found behind a wrought-iron fence on King Street just east of Church Street, beside the venerable French restaurant La Maquette. Only one large sculptural work is ever on display at a time; past works have included a life-sized flying saucer, a gigantic baby head, and a 20-foot-high stack of Honda Civics.

8. Diversity Garden, Toronto City Hall

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100 Queen Street West, Toronto
ON M5H 2N2, Canada

Tucked in behind City Hall, the Diversity Garden features large elevated planters and pots, lots of benches, and paths of wood chips to give your feet a break from pounding Queen Street.

9. Evergreen Brick Works

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550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
ON M4W 3X8, Canada

Nestled down in a ravine, the Brick Works is not only a combination interpretation centre/farmer's market/event space, it also has an amazing network of hiking paths that wind through the valley and along Mud Creek. Pause on the footbridge and check out the mammoth koi and turtles (mostly dumped there by inconsiderate former owners, but nice to look at anyway). There's a free shuttle bus that runs down to the site (and back!) from Broadview station.

10. Rosetta McClain Gardens

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5 Glen Everest Road, Scarborough
ON M1N 1J2, Canada

Rosetta McClain Gardens is right at the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs, just west of Bluffer's Park. It's a patchwork of garden spaces and beds, a pergola and a folly. A bit of a stretch to get to, but worth the effort.

11. Ashbridge Estate

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1444 Queen Street East, Toronto
ON M4L 1E2, Canada

The 1854 house and its grounds were donated by the Ashbridge family for use as a public park. The Estate is on Queen Street East, just across from the Connaught streetcar yard. There are some really old trees (willow, birch, locust, horse chestnut) and lots of flower beds to wander through, sniffing deeply.

12. Brueckner Rhododendron Garden

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660 Lakeshore Road West, Mississauga
ON L5H 1H7, Canada

Like rhodos? This is the place for you. Eighteen acres of rhododendrons, with walking trails.

13. Spadina House Museum

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285 Spadina Road, Toronto
ON M5R 2V5, Canada

This former private home in Forest Hill Village was converted to a museum in 1984. The Victorian-style gardens are divided into sections - a kitchen garden, a cutting garden, and formal flower beds. Free, as long as you don't go into the house.

14. Fort York Community Garden

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250 Fort York Boulevard, Toronto
ON M5V 3K9, Canada

A great community gardening space with vegetables, herbs and flowers, including an historical kitchen garden.

15. Ireland Park

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Queens Quay, Toronto
ON, Canada

This space is hidden behind the Canada Malting silos, just east of Billy Bishop Airport. The park is dedicated to the Irish who immigrated to Canada during Ireland's potato famine, and has a number of elements that call back to that history; a monument wall of Irish limestone, an illuminated tower of glass, and five striking sculptures of arriving immigrants.Ireland Park has been closed to the public for four years due to construction, but will reopen this month.

16. Milliken Park

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4325 McCowan Road, Scarborough
ON M1V 4P1, Canada

A few readers nominated Scarborough's well-forested Milliken Park, which has lots of trails, a pond, and a renaturalization program where volunteers meet to plant native species.

17. Sherbourne Common

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Lower Sherbourne St, Toronto
ON M5A 1B4, Canada

Sherbourne Common was created as part of the Waterfront revitalization in anticipation of the Pan Am Games. It's got a fantastic splash pad with vertical water jets, and lots of green space to stretch out and read or picnic.

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1. Cloud Gardens

14 Temperance Street, Toronto, ON M5H 1Y4, Canada

Cloud Gardens sits on the block that runs east of Bay Street, between Temperance and Richmond. It's got several discrete themed areas, and terraces that are laid out over several storeys. A pretty cool place, and one that not a lot of people seem to use.

14 Temperance Street, Toronto
ON M5H 1Y4, Canada

2. Craigleigh Gardens Park

Craigleigh Gardens, 160 South Drive, Toronto, ON M4W, Canada

In the heart of South Rosedale, Craigleigh Gardens was originally the site of the estate of Edmund Boyd Osler, a 19th-century Toronto businessman. After Osler's death in 1924, the land was donated to the city for use as a public park. Enter off South Drive, through the old stone-and-iron gate.

Craigleigh Gardens, 160 South Drive, Toronto
ON M4W, Canada

3. Courtyard at Knox College, U of T

Knox College, University of Toronto - St. George Campus, 59 Saint George Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3H8, Canada

Like a lot of spots on the UofT campus (Robarts not included), this sedate spot has a classic Ivy-League/Oxbridge feel to it. Flake out on the quad or in the shade of the gallery.

Knox College, University of Toronto - St. George Campus, 59 Saint George Street, Toronto
ON M5S 3H8, Canada

4. Hideaway Park

23 Audley Avenue, Toronto, ON M4M 2W2, Canada

You could live in Leslieville for years and never know about tiny Hideaway Park, tucked in between two north-south alleys just south of Dundas Street near Pape Avenue. Neighbours are fiercely protective of and keep a watchful eye out for littering and other antisocial behaviour, but it's a friendly place with a kids' playground, a small off-leash doggy area, and water fountains.

23 Audley Avenue, Toronto
ON M4M 2W2, Canada

5. Courtyard, St. George the Martyr

205 John Street, Toronto, ON M5T 1X6, Canada

A spot for quiet contemplation, possibly shared with a cat. Apparently it does double duty as a makeout spot.

205 John Street, Toronto
ON M5T 1X6, Canada

6. Toronto Music Garden

479 Queens Quay West, Toronto, ON M5V, Canada

How many cities can boast a park designed by Yo-Yo Ma? The cellist designed The Music Garden (along with landscape designer Julie Messervy) as an interpretation of a Bach cello suite, and each section of the garden corresponds to a movement in the composition. Warning: listening to Lady Gaga while hanging out here may cause existential conflict.

479 Queens Quay West, Toronto
ON M5V, Canada

7. Toronto Sculpture Garden

115 King Street East, Toronto, ON M5C 1G6, Canada

The Sculpture Garden is found behind a wrought-iron fence on King Street just east of Church Street, beside the venerable French restaurant La Maquette. Only one large sculptural work is ever on display at a time; past works have included a life-sized flying saucer, a gigantic baby head, and a 20-foot-high stack of Honda Civics.

115 King Street East, Toronto
ON M5C 1G6, Canada

8. Diversity Garden, Toronto City Hall

100 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON M5H 2N2, Canada

Tucked in behind City Hall, the Diversity Garden features large elevated planters and pots, lots of benches, and paths of wood chips to give your feet a break from pounding Queen Street.

100 Queen Street West, Toronto
ON M5H 2N2, Canada

9. Evergreen Brick Works

550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4W 3X8, Canada

Nestled down in a ravine, the Brick Works is not only a combination interpretation centre/farmer's market/event space, it also has an amazing network of hiking paths that wind through the valley and along Mud Creek. Pause on the footbridge and check out the mammoth koi and turtles (mostly dumped there by inconsiderate former owners, but nice to look at anyway). There's a free shuttle bus that runs down to the site (and back!) from Broadview station.

550 Bayview Avenue, Toronto
ON M4W 3X8, Canada

10. Rosetta McClain Gardens

5 Glen Everest Road, Scarborough, ON M1N 1J2, Canada

Rosetta McClain Gardens is right at the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs, just west of Bluffer's Park. It's a patchwork of garden spaces and beds, a pergola and a folly. A bit of a stretch to get to, but worth the effort.

5 Glen Everest Road, Scarborough
ON M1N 1J2, Canada

11. Ashbridge Estate

1444 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M4L 1E2, Canada

The 1854 house and its grounds were donated by the Ashbridge family for use as a public park. The Estate is on Queen Street East, just across from the Connaught streetcar yard. There are some really old trees (willow, birch, locust, horse chestnut) and lots of flower beds to wander through, sniffing deeply.

1444 Queen Street East, Toronto
ON M4L 1E2, Canada

12. Brueckner Rhododendron Garden

660 Lakeshore Road West, Mississauga, ON L5H 1H7, Canada

Like rhodos? This is the place for you. Eighteen acres of rhododendrons, with walking trails.

660 Lakeshore Road West, Mississauga
ON L5H 1H7, Canada

13. Spadina House Museum

285 Spadina Road, Toronto, ON M5R 2V5, Canada

This former private home in Forest Hill Village was converted to a museum in 1984. The Victorian-style gardens are divided into sections - a kitchen garden, a cutting garden, and formal flower beds. Free, as long as you don't go into the house.

285 Spadina Road, Toronto
ON M5R 2V5, Canada

14. Fort York Community Garden

250 Fort York Boulevard, Toronto, ON M5V 3K9, Canada

A great community gardening space with vegetables, herbs and flowers, including an historical kitchen garden.

250 Fort York Boulevard, Toronto
ON M5V 3K9, Canada

15. Ireland Park

Queens Quay, Toronto, ON, Canada

This space is hidden behind the Canada Malting silos, just east of Billy Bishop Airport. The park is dedicated to the Irish who immigrated to Canada during Ireland's potato famine, and has a number of elements that call back to that history; a monument wall of Irish limestone, an illuminated tower of glass, and five striking sculptures of arriving immigrants.Ireland Park has been closed to the public for four years due to construction, but will reopen this month.

Queens Quay, Toronto
ON, Canada

16. Milliken Park

4325 McCowan Road, Scarborough, ON M1V 4P1, Canada

A few readers nominated Scarborough's well-forested Milliken Park, which has lots of trails, a pond, and a renaturalization program where volunteers meet to plant native species.

4325 McCowan Road, Scarborough
ON M1V 4P1, Canada

17. Sherbourne Common

Lower Sherbourne St, Toronto, ON M5A 1B4, Canada

Sherbourne Common was created as part of the Waterfront revitalization in anticipation of the Pan Am Games. It's got a fantastic splash pad with vertical water jets, and lots of green space to stretch out and read or picnic.

Lower Sherbourne St, Toronto
ON M5A 1B4, Canada