Clarence Square park gets heritage nod: will be ‘conserved’

Dennis Hanagan–

The Toronto Preservation Board wants city council to put a Downtown park on Toronto’s Heritage Register.

Clarence Square, a park on Spadina’s east side north of Front St., is one of the city’s oldest parks, laid out as a public square in the 1830s. It features a mature deciduous canopy, asphalt pathways, benches and an off-leash dog run.

The off-leash dog run “is not identified as a heritage attribute,” a report from city planning points out.

Designating Clarence Square under Part IV, Section 29 of the Ontario Heritage Act would help ensure its heritage attributes are conserved as a community landmark. Toronto and East York Community Council will deal with the matter before it goes to city council.

The park’s west side bears a plaque commemorating Alexander Dunn (1833-1868), Canada’s first recipient of the Victoria Cross who lived near the site. It’s “purportedly” named for the Duke of Clarence (King William IV), according to the planning report.

The park is described as an early example of Toronto’s urban design and is associated with the development of the King-Spadina district “from an institutional and residential enclave in the 19th century, to the city’s manufacturing centre in the 20th,” says city planning.

Its transformation to manufacturing came in the wake of Toronto’s Great Fire of 1904.