The history of the Guild


About 1795

John Graves Simcoe, First Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada commissioned 

Augustus Jones to survey Scarborough Township, plotting it's concession roads and 

township lots. (Some documents state that Jones built the log cabin located at 

The Guild for his survey crew, however, Jones and his crew lived in tents during 

their surveys, and it has been proven he was not the builder of the cabin).

1799 - 1805

John Graves Simcoe made the Crown Grant of land to William Osterhout who 

had chosen the lot where the cabin now stands. (Although the cabin sometimes

is referred to as the Osterhout Cabin, Osterhout has been traced to Niagara during 

this period, and also proven not be the builder of the cabin)

1805 - 1909

Throughout the next hundred years the land was successively owned or occupied by:

Alexander Macdonell, Member Upper Canada Executive Council, Sheriff 

Home District 1792-1805, Speaker Legislative Assembly 1804, (from 1805-1834)

Honourable Duncan Cameron, Provincial Secretary, Registrar of Upper Canada 

1817-1838, (during Oct. & Nov. 1834)

John Ewart, Crown Commissioner, (from 1834-1845)

James Humphrys, one of Scarborough's earliest settlers (from 1845-1909)

Likely around this time the log cabin, that remains standing on the Guildwood 

grounds and is believed to be the oldest building in Scarborough and one of 

the oldest in Ontario, is believed to have been built.

Occupants of the cabin:

George Dickson-Kenwin, Shakespearean Actor, (1923)

Dr. Donald M. Solandt, father of Dr. O.M. Solandt. former Chancellor 

University of Toronto, (1932)

Dr. Lorne Pierce, Editor, Ryerson Press, (early 1930s)

Lucy Swanton Doyle, Journalist (from 1951-1968)

John Byers, Sculptor, (from 1968-1970)

Elizabeth Williamson, Sculptor, (from 1970-1995)


The original building was known as 'Ranelagh Park' when it was built in 1914 by 

Colonel Harold Child Bickford (1876-1956) as his country home. The 33-bedroom 

pseudo-Georgian villa is now the core of the Guild Inn.


Colonel Bickford moved to Buffalo and sold 'Ranelagh Park' to the Foreign Missionary 

Society of the Roman Catholic Church as the China Mission College.


The property was purchased by Richard V. Look, a gentleman from Kentucky, who 

was President of several companies. A year later, his offices were moved to Montreal 

and the property remained vacant for five years.


The building and 40 acres of property were purchased in 1932 by Rosa Breithaupt 

Hewetson, heiress to the Hewetson Shoes Company, shortly before her marriage to 

Herbert Spencer Clark who became president of Hewetson Shoes and Guildwood 

Developments. The Guild became their home and private museum. In the depth of 

the Great Depression, the Clarks created The Guild of All Arts.

The Guild of All Arts

On the property adjoining their house, they established 'The Guild of All Arts' 

which sought to re-establish traditional handcrafts in the style of William Morris. 

During this period, cottages and workshops were built for staff and their families; 

the existing log cabin was modernized and pressed into service; several of these 

staff cottages later became homes for The Guild's resident artists.

The Clarks provided studio space and some accommodation for artists who might

 otherwise had no other source of income. At the same time, the Clarks hoped 

that the artists would remain inspired by the beautiful setting to continue to use 

their creative talents and, in the process, to earn a living.

Most of the artists' crafts were practised in what had been the garage and stables 

of General Bickford's estate; the building is now known as 'The Studio.' (The area 

between the Studio and The Inn were the General's polo grounds.) Artists 

experimented with wood, leather, ceramic, weaving, batik, raffia, wrought iron,

copper and pewter under the guidance of experienced teachers.

The setting and the artist's talents made the Clarks dream come true - visitors came 

in increasing numbers. The owners added dining facilities and guest rooms (the first 

major expansion of this type was in the early 1940s), and the Guild earned a 

reputation as a country inn located within a world of talented artists.

The Clarks purchased surrounding farms in order to protect the setting and to 

allow for the expanding recreational needs of the country inn. Eventually, the 

Guild's lands amounted to 500 acres, and stretched from Lake Ontario to the 

Kingston Road, and from Livingston Road to Galloway Road.


The Clarks purchased Corycliff, a splendid house on five acres of property near the 

Bluffs, from the artist Rody Kenny Courtice, who painted on many trips with 

the Group of Seven.


The house was first renovated with the addition of kitchen facilities. The kitchen was 

upgraded three times in 1947-48, 1955 and in 1958-63.


The lobby and front meeting rooms were added to the building.

The pottery kiln was built by Mr. Eardley of Staffordshire, England. Most of The Guild's 

original pottery pieces were fired here.


The Sculpture Studio was built by Aage Madsen, a Danish wood sculptor. Over the 

years it has been home to a number of artists and sculptors including:

Thomas Bowie during his first term as Director of Sculpture at the Ontario 

College of Art. (from 1953-1960)

Frances Gage did the bas-relief of A.Y. Jackson in this studio (1967)

Siggy Puchta worked here several summers. (1969-1973, 1979)

Dorsey James did the carvings of Norse Mythology on the face of the building 

in 1979. (from 1979-1990)


The east side of the house was extended to provide guest rooms.


The federal government requisitioned the property and converted it into a training 

and residential centre for the Womens' Royal Naval Service (Wrens). It was known as 

'HMCS Bytown II'.


At the end of the war, the property was requisitioned as a specialized military 

hospital specializing in the treatment of personnel suffering from nervous disorders 

and was known as 'Scarborough Hall'.


The property was returned to the Clarks and they re-established the Guild of All Arts.


With the creation of Metropolitan Toronto, property taxes rose at an alarming rate, 

and the Clarks sold 400 acres of their land for development. Spencer Clark spend a 

great deal of time consulting and working with developers, carefully watching the 

creation of the community they would call Guildwood Village.

The Clark's retained 90 acres around the Guild, on which they began to gather pieces 

of architecture from Toronto's historic buildings which were being destroyed to make 

room for development of new skyscrapers.

Historic Architecture at The Guild:

All around the house, Spencer Clark laid out his collection of columns, capitals, 

reliefs, carvings and facade elements taken from banks, churches and office 

buildings which were being demolished in downtown Toronto as the post-war 

building boom fashion dictated glass-covered minimalist skyscrapers rather than 

neo-classical temples.


The 6 storey, 100 room east wing was added to The Guild Inn to accommodate the 

increasing number of visitors who came to see the craftsmen at work and the beauty 

of the property.


The final renovation was added to the building with the addition of the heritage lounge.


The Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, acting for Metropolitan 

Toronto and the Provincial Government, purchased The Guild and its surrounding lands.


Ownership was transferred to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto and today 

the grounds are controlled by Toronto Parks and Culture.

As a city park, The Guild is open to all during daylight hours, seven days per week. 

It hosts many tours and special events, including a well-attended annual art show. 

The walks and trails are popular with joggers, dog-walkers, birds and birdwatchers 

haunt the woodlands, and the rose garden with its fresh lake breeze provides a happy 

escape from the bustle and noise of the modern city of Toronto around it.