Named to honor Queen Victoria and opened in 1860 by her son the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), this park was formerly the grounds of King’s College, which was renamed the University of Toronto in 1849. Landscape gardener André Parmentier produced a plan for the site circa 1829, concurrent with his planting plan for nearby University Avenue. In the mid-1850s another landscape design was undertaken by William Mundie and completed by Edwin Taylor, although some conclude that the architectural firm of Cumberland and Storm was responsible for designing the park. In either case, when the university leased twenty hectares of the site to the City of Toronto in 1859, a Picturesque landscape was largely in place. Several paths meandered among white pines, maples, elms, and oaks, with Taddle Creek and McCaul’s Pond forming its western border (by 1884 the pond was drained and the creek channeled underground). The park was entered via two gated, tree-lined drives from University and College Avenues, the latter planted with 500 trees for the opening ceremonies.
By the mid-1880s construction had begun on the Ontario Legislative Building, which would significantly alter the appearance and use of the park’s southern portion. Within ten years the curving drive and straight walkway leading to the front of the building were in place. In 1949 Queen’s Park Crescent West and Wellesley Street West were directed across the park’s grounds to accommodate vehicular traffic, and in 1969 an equestrian statue of Edward VII was installed at the center of the park, replacing a pavilion, which, in 1889, had replaced a bandstand. The grounds contain many other statues and monuments, including a circular fountain designed by J. Austin Floyd in 1957.