Located at the southwest corner of Leslie Street and Lawrence Avenue East, Edwards Gardens was once the private sanctuary of businessman Rupert Edwards. After purchasing the rural 27-acre site in 1944, Edwards created a glorious ravine garden with one of the largest rockeries in Canada, an elaborate series of pools and waterfalls and a nine-hole golf course. In 1955, with development encroaching upon his pastoral idyll, he sold the property to Metro Toronto as a public park. The original Civic Garden Centre, the former Edwards manse, burned down a few years later and architect Raymond Moriyama was commissioned to design the replacement Garden Centre and the new Garden Pavilion.
The Pavilion is the more distinguished of the two structures. Set on the crest of the ravine and overlooking the garden below, it’s defined by a massive Wrightian hipped roof clad in cedar shingles and inset with translucent skylight panels. Diffused natural light washes down over the beautifully detailed Douglas fir roof trusses, the precise joinery and pattern recalling Japanese building traditions. Soffits, decorative screens and benches are of cedar and redwood. The roof is supported by tapered limestone columns organically emerging from the pavilion’s terraced stone base, itself a remnant of the vanished house. The stonework is a tribute to the mason’s art; pieces fit tightly in intricate patterns and the mortar is nearly invisible. Completed in 1964, the pavilion was recognized for its enduring quality and timelessness by a 25-Year Award from the Ontario Association of Architects.
Born in Vancouver in 1929, Raymond Moriyama received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Architecture in Civic and Town Planning from McGill University. He began a one-man practice in the spring of 1958 and immediately gained notice for his exquisitely-designed small buildings. His steel-and-brick gatehouse for the Crothers Used Equipment Centre in Leaside (1960, demolished) and the delicate Halfway House for George Crothers’s private golf course (1958) were a finalist and a Silver Medal winner respectively in the 1961 Massey Medals for Architecture competition. The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (now the Noor Cultural Centre), completed in 1963, was his breakthrough project and earned him national acclaim as one of Canada’s most promising young architects.
As Moriyama’s reputation grew, the firm was awarded a series of major civic projects: the Ontario Science Centre (1969), the Scarborough Civic Centre (1973) and the Toronto Reference Library (1977). In 1970 the firm became Moriyama & Teshima with the appointment of Ted Teshima as partner. Key works from the 1980s onward are Science North in Sudbury (1984), the North York City Centre and Central Library (1984-91), the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo, Japan (1991), York University’s Vari Hall (1992), the Bata Shoe Museum (1995) and, most recently, the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa (2005). Moriyama and Teshima have since retired; the firm is now led by sons Ajon and Jason Moriyama and two other partners.