61 Edgehill Rd. (close to Scarlet Rd. in Etobicoke)
Purchased by the city in 1955; 21 acres
Known for: One of the formal gardens in the city
Formal, landscaped beauty, popular for weddings
James Gardens, a former estate on the west bank of the Humber River, is known for its flower gardens, terraced stone pathways, sparkling spring-fed pools and streams, and mature trees. On site is the historic James Gazebo, and the original home "Red Gables". The area also includes hills, valleys, virgin forest, and bush meadow land on the west side of the Humber River.
Fred T. James was a very successful Toronto fish merchant. He bought his property in 1908 as a "cottage". Although originally the land was rather swampy, over the next 40 years the James family transformed the land in the valley below their house into a spectacular gardener's masterpiece.
The James family replaced the cottage with a stone house situated on the top west corner of the estate. It was built from stone from the Humber River. The house had red gables, like the original cottage. The family lived there until the property was purchased by the city.
Red Gables is now a community recreation centre operated by the City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation department. It is used for specialized preschool, arts and fitness programs, as well as a unique summer camp combining fine arts, ecology and athletics. You can also see the original walls of the horse stables.
The park connects directly to the beautiful Humber River Bike Trail, which covers 13 km (one way) in and around the Humber River. In the summer, you can also find lawn bowling: in the winter, cross-country skiing.
Look for the memorial cairn in the rose garden, and enjoy a scenic lookout over the Humber Valley to downtown Toronto. The park is also a very popular place for wedding photographs and receptions.
Each year thousands of flowers and over 75,000 tulips are planted in the beds. Floral designs and materials are changed annually in the rock gardens and under the well-pruned trees and shrubs.