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City Government

Waverley Park

 “The lavish hand of Nature has done so much for Port Arthur, that the art of man has only a trifle to do.”
-Weekly Sentinel, July 7, 1891 Re: Waverley Park

Where: Port Arthur, by Red River Road and Algoma Street Size: 5.2 acres
Created: Designated parkland in 1871, formally opened in 1906
Major Features:
  • Central School, erected in 1874
  • Port Arthur High School, 1888, torn down in 1938
  • Port Arthur Collegiate Institute, 1908
  • Lookout, 1911
  • Magnus Theatre, 1921
  • Cenotaph, June 4, 1925
  • Hogarth Memorial Fountain, June 5, 1965
  • Waverley Towers, ca. 1975
  • Permanent bandshell/bandstand, “Rotary Thundershell” 1979/1984
  • Memorial Garden, 1980
Land Acquired:

Mr. Hugh Wilson, a surveyor from the Crown Lands Department: “felt that a park in the central part of the community was necessary to allow for recreational activities” (Fraser and Browne 3-5). The land was designated parkland in 1871.

Land Usage: Recreation and Sports Activities - cricket, baseball, footraces, lacrosse, football, lawn bowling

 

For more records on the subject that is displayed, click the desired image in the slideshow.

Historical Highlights:

  • In 1871, “[Simon Dawson’s] crew had cut a road west along the present route of Waverley Street but realized that horses pulling heavy loads would not be able to negotiate the hill. A second road was built along the alignment of the present Red River Road. The dirt lot between Arthur and Waverley Streets was designated as land to be used for park purposes by the Ontario Government.” [Waverley Park Heritage Conservation District Study, 1986.]

  • After designation, the parkland remained undeveloped for over a decade.

  • Both the Thunder Bay Cricket Club (1880) and the Waverley Lawn Bowling Club (1918) spurred Council action with donations and recommended improvements for park development.

  • In 1884, Port Arthur considered selling the parkland to a hotel company. Although the land had already been designated as a park, its possible sale was put to a vote. The notion of privatization was turned down by the citizens.

  • In 1887, Arthur Harvey, a Torontonian, donated 100 trees for initial developments of Waverley Park. Until this point, little had been done to beautify the park.

  • In the early 1900s, Port Arthur considered Waverley Park as a possible location for a new City Hall. The populace generally opposed this suggestion. In 1912, Frank Darling, a prominent landscape architect, voiced his opinion: “Get the school property [Central School] by all means, but don’t build on it. Let your park be the front door of the city instead of the backyard of the City Hall.”

  • In August 1924, the Parks Board received a letter from the Women’s Canadian Club of Port Arthur asked permission to take the financial responsibilities of erecting a cenotaph to the men who fell in the World War. The Port Arthur Cenotaph was erected in 1925.

  • The Hogarth Fountain was donated in memory of Major-General Donald McDonald Hogarth, by his wife. Hogarth had been a long-time MPP for the Port Arthur riding. The fountain was unveiled on June 5, 1965.

  • A permanent bandshell was constructed in 1979. The bandshell hosted Summer in the Parks concerts for many years.

See also: