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Victorian Era Greenhouse: Allan Gardens Conservatory

The Toronto Horticulture Society received a five-acre tract of land from the politician George William Allan in 1858, marking the beginning of the horticultural centre, Allan Gardens Conservatory. A wood, iron, and glass conservancy that held galas, concerts, and flower displays was located on the property by 1879. Then, in 1902, a fire tore through. The Ottawa Journal at the time stated that for many minutes, “the crackling of the flames was alleviated by the odd tinkling sounds of thousands of descending panes” shattering from the ceiling.

Inside the Allan Gardens Conservatory, it’s warm even on the iciest of days. Orchids, bromeliads, cactus, succulents, and—under a lofty glass dome—banana trees and palms—as well as other plants—call its greenhouses home.

There have also been political protests in the garden. On this location, the National Council of Women of Canada was established in 1893, and it campaigned for immigration reform, suffrage, and other measures. Thousands of people watched as a few alleged Nazi supporters were brutally assaulted in front of the crowd in 1965. The grounds have also been the scene of rallies against poverty and nuclear weapons. In addition, a protest against the G20 conference was held there. It has served as the culmination of the Dyke March festivities for numerous years.

Arriving guests can run across the Conservatory’s Christmas flower exhibit in December or early January. This yearly celebration has been paying homage to the Victorian era for the last 40 years.