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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
Email: info@parkwoodestate.com

All photos courtesy of Parkwood Estate

91 thoughts on “PARKWOOD: A Place of Astonishing Beauty”

  1. 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.

    1. 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.”

      1. 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.

      2. 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!’)

      3. 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! 🙂

      4. 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

      5. 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.

      6. 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 🙂

      7. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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?

    1. 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.

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

    1. “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.

    1. 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.

      1. Don’t you have a small one now? By the way, Native flowers are considered essential to healthy vegetable gardens. I may be putting one in. ; )

  4. 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 😀

    1. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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…

  7. 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.



    1. They sure did, Denise. It appears that the McLaughlin family did a great deal for the city and the country, and the foundation continues to.
      So glad you like the post.

  8. 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 🙂

    1. I hear you, Karen. To be an invisible ‘guest’ and see how they lived – great parties included. I’m betting it was similar to Downton Abbey, on a smaller scale.

  9. 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. 🙂

  10. 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! 🙂

  11. 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

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