PARKWOOD: A Place of Astonishing Beauty

Ever visited a garden which made your jaw drop — repeatedly?

Parkwood does that to me… every time I visit. A national historic site, Parkwood is gorgeous.

Blog Photo - Parkwood house from west

You’ve likely seen Parkwood in the movies – many movies and television shows have been shot here, from X-Men to Hannibal.

Located only about 35 minutes from Toronto, Parkwood is the kind of place where you can lose yourself, meandering from one space to another. Time moves slowly and pleasantly on the 12-acre grounds.

Surprisingly, Parkwood is right downtown in the city of Oshawa.

Blog Photo - Parkwood Fountains and teahouse

It’s one of the few places I know that has a white garden — but then again, Parkwood has so many garden rooms, it could dedicate one to each colour and still have space left over.


Built for auto baron Robert Samuel McLaughlin (“Sam”), his wife Adelaide Louise and their five daughters in 1917,  the house is a mansion by any definition.

Blog Photo - Parkwood Drawing room

Blog Photo - Parkwood Dining room

Many features were rare at that time: indoor heated swimming pool, morning room for breakfast, large conservatory and an indoor bowling alley and games room.


As for life’s ‘little’ luxuries: Parkwood had an in-house telephone system, an elevator, a central vacuum system, remote-controlled outdoor lighting system, air conditioning, climate-controls for the art gallery, a walk-in refrigerator, and much more.

Blog Photo - Parkwood - RSM and Family

The family could well afford it. McLaughlin was president of his family business Canadian Motor Car Company which became General Motors of Canada.

The house is Classic Revival in style, with some Georgian features.

Blog Photo - Parkwood back of mansion.

I’m impressed by the grand house and its history — it’s a Canadian jewel.

But I’m completely bowled over by the gardens.

Blog Photo - Parkwood teahouse-restaurant

Inspired by the great gardens of Europe, they were created by the finest landscape designers available.

Blog Photo - Parkwood Garden layout

Blog Photo - B&W shot of garden and pavilion

And though Adelaide and Sam loved gardening, the expansive grounds and eleven greenhouses required a staff of 24 to look after them.

Blog Photo - Parkwood Garden and Pavillion

Today, people visit from all over Canada and the world. They tour the house or gardens or both, and some come for lunch or tea at the restaurant. I highly recommend the tea house-restaurant and tours. A great way to spend a morning or afternoon in a place of outstanding beauty.


To visit Parkwood or donate to the upkeep of this national treasure:

Tel: (905) 433-4311

All photos courtesy of Parkwood Estate



Filed under A Good Home, Canada's National Historic Sites, Canadian Gardens, Canadian Homes, Canadian life, Famous Places, Gardens, Heritage Homes, Home

91 responses to “PARKWOOD: A Place of Astonishing Beauty

  1. Breathtaking! My sister posts pics many times of Longwood Gardens and this looks a bit similar. So many gardens to visit, so little time:).

  2. robert vernon

    Cynthia, Never knew about this place. Georgeous- will for sure visit Robert

    Click on link below: WHEN CONCHI BLOWS by Omar Sheriffe Vernon el Halawani Robert Vernon 43 Millsborough Cres. Etobicoke, Ontario M9C 5E7 Canada Home Tel :-416-622-9408 Cell:-416-476-9408 StGC Ontario OBA Website:

    Date: Tue, 28 Jul 2015 21:06:43 +0000 To:

  3. What a beautiful estate. Thank you for the tour.

  4. Wow! What a fabulous place! If I’m ever lucky enough to visit Canada I will definitely want to see this place. I would wander about dreaming I owned it. I looked at the list of programmes and films made there and I’m sorry to say I haven’t seen any of them!! (I don’t watch much TV and hardly ever get to the cinema so that’s my excuse!). To be able to employ that many people to work in the gardens at a time when most well-to-do people were having to cut back shows how much wealth he had. He also had taste. Thanks for a lovely post, Cynthia.

    • I will add another ‘if I am lucky enough to visit Canada’ to yours. Although perhaps we should say “When we visit Canada, Cynthia, we are going to Parkwood with you.”

      • Oh wonderful! Oh I wish! Thank-you from my heart dear Cynthia.

      • You really should both visit Canada! I am certainly hoping you will. Why don’t you think seriously about it?

      • Thank-you Cynthia. Sorry about the confusion earlier! I have just spent some hours with my mother and I am a little tired! I would love to visit Canada so much.

      • What confusion? You’re talking to the queen of confusion, and I’m not confused by what you wrote. Then again, perhaps that’s why!! You’ll have a place to stay when you come to visit my part of Canada, so get your tails over here one of these days, okay? (which is a Jamaican term of endearment — ‘get your tails here!’)

      • Thank-you, thank-you! I shouldn’t carry on conversations with my daughter at the same time as replying to comments. Something has to give as my brain can’t cope with too much going on at the same time. I now have to make my excuses to poor Ann! 🙂

      • What a good idea! I got confused earlier didn’t I!

      • Dear Ann I would love to accompany you to Parkwood and thank-you for the kind invitation! You must have thought I was being stupid or rude or both. I think stupid covers it and I apologise xx

      • Not at all stupid or rude. But it would be so much fun to go. And we never know when our dreams and wishes might suddenly come true.

      • Thank-you dear Ann! I would really love to go. I haven’t travelled much or far in my life and it would be wonderful to cross the Atlantic before I get too tired and old 🙂

      • I have travelled but not to Canada….ever. Do you have a special birthday coming up sometime soon that you could use as an excuse to treat yourself to a trip? Of course, it would be fun to take your family, too.

      • Well that’s a good idea! I will be 60 in just over three years time but can I wait that long?

      • I will be 60 next year so I better get a chuff along or I will have to wait for 65 or 70!

  5. This is a fabulous jewel. How wonderful it exists and is cared for. Definitely worth a travel stop. Enjoyed the tour! (and links)

  6. I would love to visit that place! Thank you for sharing both the pictures and the history.

  7. It is an amazing jewel. I went to an Oshawa author’s festival there a few years ago. Don’t know if it still happens. I wonder who, if anyone, lives in the house now.

    • I don’t know if anyone does — it always looks so perfect (unlike my own messy place…) I didn’t know about the Oshawa authors festival. Was it held outdoors under a pavilion?

  8. What a beautiful garden and home. The size and scope really hit home in the aerial photo. Thanks for the guided tour Cynthia! 🙂

    • You are welcome. I like places to wander in a garden and though I’m much slower these days, I find myself looking for magic, just around the corner.
      Parkwood is like that for me — despite its being a public garden, it feels at times as if one will encounter a fairy or two just around the next corner.

  9. A dream of a place! I adore old historic rambling stately piles like this.

  10. leeMck

    Lovely, Cynthia! So relaxing and inviting…on the “must visit” list the next time I’m in Toronto!!!

  11. I think my husband and I just might need to take another trip to Canada. It has been too long. Thank you for the beautiful tour.

  12. Amazing place! I am surprised they could maintain that garden with just 24 gardeners. Lovely photos, thanks for the tour.

    • “Just 24 gardeners!” And here I was, thinking that was a lot. But not when I really think about it, actually. It’s a lot to take care of and last time I checked, there was an army of devoted volunteers helping to car for the place.

  13. Looks fab – I especially like the architecture of the house. Strange that it didn’t leave a lasting impression in Hannibal.

    • But that’s the idea behind shoot locations, isn’t it? A room here, a room there, re-staged to look like the way the spaces are described in the scripts. That may be why Parkwood is used so much for films and TV: it has an amazing variety of indoor and outdoor spaces.

  14. Very nice place. I like the white garden

  15. The white garden is wonderful!

  16. Beautiful house and beautiful gardens, thanks for sharing them with us Cynthia.

  17. Wow! is about all I can say when I see a place like this. It would have been fantastic to be a gardener in those days.

  18. Astonishing indeed. I hope to get to Canada one day and it is the kind of garden I would love to see.

  19. This is absolutely beautiful – I could imagine those girls would have had a wonderful time in that house and in those gardens. Thanks for taking me on this amazing walk today, Cynthia 😀

  20. Oh my it is astonishing beauty. And I’m sure has been starred in many movies. That white garden Cynthia … perfect 🙂

  21. What a fabulous treasure to share!! The house and grounds are beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

    • You are welcome, Tina. When I was posting the story about my ‘white garden’, I suddenly recalled the last white garden I had seen – years ago — and decided to do a story about Parkwood. Glad you enjoyed it.

  22. That is one beautiful place! Some real craftsmanship went into this home. Thank you for sharing!

  23. HI Cynthia, so enjoyed the Parkwood pictures you posted as well as your evocative descriptions moving from place to place. Your posting reminded my of Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent – the home of Vita Sacville-West, now a National Trust property. Vita also had a White Garden!

  24. Kev

    Wow. That really is astonishingly beautiful… thanks for sharing. Lovely pics. 🙂

  25. Margaret Mair

    A beautiful place, beautifully presented – perhaps we’ll get there on a day when we have access to a car. I’d love to savor slowly…

  26. We got to see Parkwood when we were in Toronto in June. So glad we did!

  27. You’re absolutely right, Cynthia — these gardens are incredible!! They really are beautiful, and the house is so elegant. It’s hard to believe all this is right in the middle of town. Those auto barons really did make a ton of money back in the day, didn’t they?

    I enjoyed these pictures — thank you for sharing with us! Hope you have a great week, Cynthia.



  28. Thank you so much for sharing the photographs and details of this gorgeous property. It is stunning! Palatial in size and style and yet designed in such a way with so many pretty flourishes that I feel I could move in myself and feel quite comfortable!
    I LOVE the white border and a stroll past those flowers on a moonlit night would be so perfect. If I was granted a wish, it might be to be an invisible guest in that house when the family were in residence and perhaps on the night of a great party. I always find myself interested in the kitchens of these big houses and the food they ate……ah, back to reality and sanding the flaking paint off my old porch doors! Perhaps I will be luck and an automobile baron will pass by as I work 🙂

  29. Wow this is my kind of blog. Such fab photos and interesting and informative snippets to engage and entertain. I love it. Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  30. I didn’t know about Parkwood. I routinely zip past Oshawa on my way to Toronto. So interesting. And I was just wondering if there was somewhere to eat when you recommended the Tea-house. Wonderful. Thank you! 🙂

  31. Oh I think I would be amazed as well ! This look gorgeous !! I didn’t know it was the filming location of so many movies !!!

  32. Wow, Cynthia, this place is stunning inside and out. Parkwood looks like a place I could spend an entire day enjoying. An old mansion with old gardens is a wonderful setting for a novel too.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

  33. WOW-my mouth is agape:-) stunning:-)

  34. WOW, Cynthia! Thanks for this awesome post! I am a lover of history and thoroughly enjoyed it! 🙂

  35. It’s so very lovely!! I just love visiting mansions…I can feel the energy of the lives that were lived there. Thanks for sharing, Cynthia! 🙂

  36. Pingback: Snow Day Dreamin…. | Cynthia Reyes - Author

  37. Breath taking Cindy and of course I would love to visit. Another addition to my bucket list. I love the victorian era and the magnificent gardens. Thank you for sharing. ☺☺

  38. Wow, I love it – this is a new garden to me and I would love to see it. In summer, of course. Hope the photos made you think of summer days and feel warmer!

  39. That just takes my breath away! And I do believe I have seen it in some shows! 🙂

  40. Holy Moly. What a treat and treasure. Though in my neighborhood, I hope to someday pay a visit. ❤ 🙂

  41. OMG..stunning does not even cover that place….no word….just my mouth hanging open!!! Truly a masterpiece:-) To be that wealthy-WOW

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