The Guild Inn was an historic hotel in the Guildwood neighbourhood of Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario and was once an artists colony. The surrounding Guild Park is notable for a sculpture garden consisting of the rescued facades and ruins of various demolished downtown Toronto buildings such as bank buildings, the old Toronto Star building and the original Granite Club.
It evolved out of Ranelagh Park, a 33 room, Arts and Crafts-style manor house built in 1914 for Colonel Harold Bickford atop the Scarborough Bluffs, that was in 1921 sold to the Roman Catholic Church's Foreign Mission Society and renamed the China Mission College. It was, however, soon abandoned, remaining so until 1932, when it was purchased by Rosa Breithaupt Hewetson. After her marriage to Herbert Spencer Clark, the couple continued to reside in the mansion, and there fostered the arts, turning the home into a museum, so that by the time of the Second World War it had become The Guild of All Arts. The Clarks created across their property homes and workshops for artists, such as The Studio, which was assembled out of a garage and a stable from different parts of the grounds; it accommodated those practising batik, woodworking, weaving, and metalworking. The Clarks also began collecting architectural elements from demolished buildings and erecting them in the gardens of the Guild as follies.
As more people were attracted to the artistic community on the bluffs, the Clarks made additions to the Guild in 1941 and 1942, after which the Crown in Right of Canada leased the property as a base for the Women's Royal Naval Service, called HMCS Bytown II, and following the conclusion of hostilities in Europe, retained it until 1947 as Scarborough Hall, a hospital for the treatment of nervous disorders. The house was returned to the Clarks, who restored to its pre-war functions, but were forced by rising property taxes to only six years later sell 400 acres (1.6 km2) of their land to developers, though Spencer Clark oversaw the planning of the area that would become Guildwood Village. On the remaining 90 acres (360,000 m2) around the Guild itself, the Clarks continued collecting and adding to their array of architectural remnants, as Victorian, Beaux-Arts, and Gothic Revival buildings throughout the city were pulled down to make way for Toronto's post-war growth and new attitudes towards planning. Altogether, pieces of more than 60 structures were amassed, from buildings such as the Toronto Bank Building and the home of Sir Frederick Banting, as well as various pieces of artwork, including 14 by Sorel Etrog. The Guild Inn proved so popular as a lakeside resort and artisans' community that in 1965 a six storey, 100 room addition and a swimming pool were added, plus further renovations in 1968.
A decade later, in 1978, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority purchased the Guild Inn and continued its operation as a hotel. The inn's fortunes declined over the years, however, as the city of Scarborough grew more urban around it, making it less desirable as a vacation spot yet still too far from the city core to serve as a utilitarian hotel. In 1993, with the buildings noticeably run down, the property was turned over to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, which used the park and structures for private functions; namely, wedding photo shoots. Still, by 2001 the hotel and restaurant were closed, with only the park remaining open to the public, while new tenants were sought. In 1999, the park was designated a heritage property by the Heritage Canada Foundation.
A non-profit group called Artscape approached the city with a proposed strategy for a cultural precinct on the Guild Inn site, which was met with interest. More concrete plans came, however, in September 2008, when the city approved a plan by Centennial College to operate a hotel, restaurant, and conference centre on the site for use in the school's hospitality courses, as well as to act as a location to house the college's Cultural and Heritage Institute. Though a fire on 25 December 2008 destroyed The Studio, preparations for Centennial's development continued, and the city in January 2009 approved the demolition of the hotel tower.
In 2013, the Toronto Star reported that the park is in a state of decay with sculptures eroding and some plaques missing. The Heritage Canada Foundation characterizes the park's situation as one of "demolition by neglect". A volunteer group, Friends of Guild Park and Gardens, was formed in 2013 to try to rescue the park and restore the inn.
From 1998 to 2003 The Gardens and Greek Theatre at the The Guild Inn were home to the award-winning theatre company, Cliffhanger Productions, which specialized in adaptations of world mythology for family audiences.
The park surrounding the abandoned Guild Inn has been used in recent pop culture pieces. The Guild Inn and surrounding area were used in the filming of "The Skulls", the Warehouse 13 Pilot episode, and even in the popular artist Drake's music video for his hit song "Headlines".
- "History > History of the Guild of all arts and the Guild Inn". Guildwood Community Association. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- "Lost Guildwood > The Studio". Guildwood Community Association. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- "History > Spencer Clark Collection of Historic Architecture". Guildwood Community Association. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- "History > Spencer Clark Collection of Historic Architecture > Plan of the Guild Inn Grounds > 8". Guildwood Community Association. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- "History > Spencer Clark Collection of Historic Architecture > Plan of the Guild Inn Grounds > 37". Guildwood Community Association. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- "History > Spencer Clark Collection of Historic Architecture > Plan of the Guild Inn Grounds > S6 to S10". Guildwood Community Association. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- Daubs, Katie (April 16, 2013). "Guild Park gets a little help from some friends". Toronto Star. Retrieved April 16, 2013.
- "Centennial Given the Green Light for Guild Inn Revitalization" (Press release). Office of Paul Ainslie. 24 September 2008. Retrieved 3 July 2011.
- Lavoie, Joanna (7 June 2007). "Centennial College launches Cultural and Heritage Institute". Toronto Community News. Retrieved 5 August 2009.[dead link]
- Doucette, Chris (25 December 2008). "Fire guts Guild Inn". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 5 August 2009.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Guild.|
- Photography of Chris Smart - In the Garden of The Guild
- The Guild Inn - Pararesearch files
- City of Toronto description
- Press Release of demolition