The History of Guildwood Village: The Build

By Bob Taylor-Vaisey

The plan: where it started and how it changed

What was planned and what was implemented were quite different. The plan was to develop the village in four quadrants with three of them (NE, NW, SW) adhering to the garden community concept.  Of particular interest is the canopy.  Spencer Clark wrote,

The first was the north east. It had cul-de-sacs, including two that were never built, curvi-linear streets to discourage fast traffic and an elongated park system.[1]  Chantry Court and Sari Crescent came in 1974 and 1975 respectively.  The vision of an elongated park from Galloway to the lake did not happen.  The North East quadrant is the only one of the four in the classic image of a garden community.

It is also the only quadrant to have rolled curbs.  In May, 1959[2] the Commissioner of Works identified that builders and owners were planting obstructions along these curbs, resulting  in the recommendation that no further rolled curbs on residential streets be allowed anytime in the future in the Township of Scarborough.

The second quadrant was the north west, also known as the Dart Farm[3] or the McLain Block[4].[5]  The continuation of the elongated park system, including 3 miles of paved parkways did not happen.  Apparently the concept did not fit in with the City’ concept of park planning. Add to that the need for an underpass at Guildwood Parkway and subsequently the idea was abandoned and the quadrant totally reconfigured. 

But this reconfiguration paled in comparison to the next quadrant, the south west.  A number of Garden Court Apartments (or, luxury apartments) were slated for where the townhouses are today[6]. It was also proposed to eliminate Marine Drive and Prince Philip Gate and replace it with an apartment development, including some high rise units.[7]  No wonder there was continued emphasis on strengthening the bluffs.  A number of streets in this quadrant had different names:  Nichols Gate, Welwyn Wood, Breithaught Court, Lyncroft Lane and Clarkwood Crescent.  We’ll review the origin of street names in Guildwood Village in a future column.

The original plan showed a Village Green on the SW corner of Livingston and the Parkway, to be more of a community centre than a commercial centre.[8]

The southeast quadrant today looks nothing like the original plan, an apartment complex called Livingston Park where Laurier, the church and Chartwell sit today.

East of Galloway was next, notably the Eade[9] block. There is little information on the development of this area save a number of bylaws and [attached] registered plans.

In fact, there is no documentation at all on record of the final decisions on the ultimate configuration of the village.

Guildwood is known for its trees.  Here’s why, in Spencer Clark’s own words:  “Few if any other, developments in Canada, we think, have taken the pains and trouble for the preservation of trees which were undertaken in the case of Guildwood Village.”[10]

Next:  the Avenue of Homes, a series of fully furnished model homes never concentrated before in one location in Canada.[11]  It was called the boldest merchandising campaign of its kind ever launched in Canada.[12]  And, there were two sets of model homes.  Stay tuned.


[1] UofW. SCA. GA182. BHC. Guildwood Village.  Box 3. Planning and Construction

[2] City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 218. Series 647. File 165  

[3] See, “Landmark Razed” in University of Waterloo. Special Collections and Archives, GA182. Breithaupt Hewetson Clark Collection. Series 6.4.4. General Files. File 3740  

[4] See University of Waterloo. Special Collections and Archives, GA182. Breithaupt Hewetson Clark Collection (hereafter UofW. SCA. GA182.  BHC), Guildwood Village. Guildwood Village Limited, Box 10, Land Transactions, letter from Clark to R.W. McClain, October 23rd, 1950  

[5] UofW. SCA. GA182. BHC.  Guildwood Village.  Guildwood Village Development.  Box 10.  Clark to McClain re:  purchase of the block.

[6] UofW. SCA. GA182. BHC. Guildwood Village.  Box 3. Planning and Construction.

[7] UofW. SCA. GA182. BHC. Guildwood Village.  Box 3. Planning and Construction

[8] UofW. SCA. GA182. BHC. Guildwood Village.  Box 2. Planning and Construction

[9] UofW. SCA. GA182. BHC. Guildwood Village.  Box 3.  Planning and Construction

[10] UofW. SCA. GA182. BHC. Guildwood Village.  Box 3.  Planning and Construction

[11] From “How they plan to build, sell new suburban Toronto village, undated

[12] UofW. SCA. GA182. BHC. Guildwood Village, Box 17a, Publications