In 1981, a very small City of Toronto park (80 by 100 feet) was created off King Street for temporary public art. It was initiated by benefactors the Louis L. Odette Family in collaboration with the City (now the sole operator) and curated by Rina Greer until 2014. Despite its diminutive size, the Toronto Sculpture Garden has hosted installations by more than 80 artists, from a full-sized log trappers’ cabin, to a disco bunker with bright pink blast doors muffling the music inside.
Sitting directly opposite St. James Cathedral, and formerly between two Georgian-style buildings that have since been demolished, the park falls within the ten-block grid of what was the Old Town of York, founded in 1793. The site is the previous home of Oak Hall, a four-story commercial building unique for its wide glass windows and cast iron Edwardian front; it was razed to create a parking lot in 1938. Like much early colonial planning in Canada, the grid denaturalized the land, cutting through and covering over natural boundaries, including many waterways that emptied into Lake Ontario. One of these lost rivers ran less than fifty feet west of the Garden.
Unlike a civic monument, which can calcify history, the Toronto Sculpture Garden is consequential because of its transience, offering temporary programming in the face of a development history that consistently raises the spectre of demolition at every turn.
This Biennial site description was generated by the curatorial team, in consultation with our creative partners, to offer lesser-known facts and histories, and explore sites in relation to the changing shoreline.
This Biennial site was made possible through a partnership with the City of Toronto.
Accessible from sidewalk. Note cobblestone pathway.
- Getting There
By Public Transportation: The Toronto Sculpture Garden is located steps away from King St. E and Church St, where the 503 and 504 TTC streetcars pass through on a frequent basis. These streetcars travel east and west along King St, and connect to subway and GO Transit.
By Car: Take the Gardner Expressway E, exiting at Jarvis Street. Take a slight left then turn onto Lower Jarvis St, then left onto Front St. E. Turn right onto Church St, then right again onto King St. E, where you will find the destination on the right.