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Allan Gardens

In 1858 a local city politician named George Allan donated a plot of land to the Toronto Horticultural Society to build a garden. Several years later the Society completed the original Allan Gardens Pavilion and after they received an additional land-grant from the city opened the park up to the public. In 1888 the city took over the park and after a fire at the end of the century, hired architect Robert McCallum to design a replacement for the original pavilion. Today, more than 150 years since it first opened to the public Allan Gardens is still a city park open to the public.

Due to its central location and large size Allan Gardens Park has long been a chosen site for protests and demonstration in Toronto. In 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, approximately 2000 ex-servicemen and their communist and socialist allies gathered in the park to protest the lack of work and their living conditions. Citing a bylaw that prohibited speeches in most public parks the Toronto police department charged the crowd and incited a riot. In 1965, another riot broke out after counter-protesters gathered to prevent what they had heard would be a Nazi Party Rally. Those looking to prevent the rally soon began attacking several youths who they suspected of being Nazis. In 1998 thousands of protesters gathered at Allan Gardens to protest against Ontario Premier Mike Harris' "Safe Street Act," which imposed large fines on homeless youth who earned money by washing car windows. One year later the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty organized a tent city called a "safe park" in Allan Gardens as a safe space for homeless people to avoid increasing incidents of police harassment.

Penina Coopersmith, Cabbagetown: The Story of a Victorian Neighbourhood (Toronto: James and Lorimer Company, 1998)

Jason Ball, "Once Upon a City: Allan Gardens' rich history of revolution" Toronto Star (December 3, 2015)

Bryan Palmer and Gatan Hroux, Toronto's Poor: A Rebellious History (Toronto: Between the Lines, 2016)

City of Toronto, "Allan Gardens Conservatory" Found at: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=8d31dada600f0410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD