Cultural History

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Cultural History of Queen's Park

Previously known as University Park, Queen’s Park was renamed in honour of Queen Victoria and officially opened by her son H.R.H. the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) on September 11, 1860.

The Park was originally established as a gathering place for social activities and relaxation on what was then the outskirts of the City.

Now nestled in the heart of downtown Toronto, Queen’s Park has throughout its history been a focal point for the citizens of the City.


1828/1829 — Ontario’s first university, King’s College, purchases 168 acres (68 hectares) of land north of the Town of York for its campus.

1849 — King’s College becomes the University of Toronto.

1859 — The University leases 49 acres (20 hectares) of its land to the City of Toronto for 999 years to create a public park. The original Park includes the land where the Ontario Legislature now sits, portions of the modern-day University campus, and portions of College Street and University Avenue.

1860 — Queen’s Park is officially opened, the first municipal park in British North America. 500 trees are planted along College Street to mark the occasion.

1870 — The Canadian Volunteers Memorial (commemorating the Battle of Ridgeway) is unveiled, inaugurating a series of statues in the Park. Most of these statues now lie outside the Park’s boundary.

1886 — The southern portion of the Park is turned over to the Province of Ontario for construction of Ontario’s Legislative Building.

1889 — A pavilion in the centre of the Park replaces the earlier bandstand.

1914 - 1918 — The Park serves as a gathering place for troops during World War I.

1923 — The 48th Highlander’s War Memorial is erected at the north end of the Park.

1949 — A new road is constructed on the west side of the Park to carry southbound traffic (Queen’s Park Crescent West).

1969 — The equestrian statue of King Edward VII from New Delhi, India, is brought to Toronto and installed in the centre of the Park.

Historical image of a memorial statue (dated 1870) 1886 1914-1918 1969
1870 1886 1914-1918 1969