Discovery: Cornell Campbell Farm

Edit: The pink peony we found on site is probably Cora Stubbs, an old variety, highly scented.

A while back, we wrote about discovering the recently installed Scarborough Community Garden on Kingston Road. The space provided for the garden came from the grounds of the historic Cornell Campbell Farm next door.

William Cornell settled here from Rhode Island in the U.S. in 1799 when the site was, as the plaque says, “two lakefront lots.” He helped hack out a path for Kingston Road. Many of his descendants played a role in the history of Scarborough. In the 1940s, the farm transferred to the female line, the family of Helen and Albert Campbell.

I took copious pictures of this great garden setting. In fact, trying to decide which few images to post made me procrastinate about writing up the farm. Then I learned how to do a slide show.

A quick walk about the gardens

Sarah and I visited just after one of June’s torrential rains. The peonies along the long driveway, laden with raindrops (and bees), were a bit of a distraction from the main event. But, at the end of it, set well back from busy Kingston Road, we found a fine example of a Southern Ontario Victorian brick farmhouse, along with an attractive cedar plank barn.

At the front of the farmhouse, facing south, is an avenue of flowerbeds each centred by masses of peonies. While just a touch past their peak, and battered by rains, they still made an impact. Some were intensely fragrant, and we’re trying to uncover their identity.

Majestic horse chestnuts (Aesculus hippocastanum) were the featured tree, probably the same vintage as the house. At least one weathered specimen had a young tree planted beside it to ensure continuity.

On the west side of the house are more contemporary plantings. Tucked into the forested edge are two strikingly paired Japanese maples (Acer japonicum or Acer palmatum ): a red and a gold, identities unknown. A little further along is a perennial bed where we discovered the towering Iris spuria we wrote about earlier.

Continuing our full circuit around the house, we came to an open space with tables and benches for education or picnics. As of last year, the City of Toronto now owns the farm, and has plans to use it as a horticultural education site and demonstration garden. I’m looking forward to seeing it develop.

See it for yourself – plus visit Bluffs gardens

Cornell Campbell House is being used for events by the Scarborough Garden & Horticultural Society. In fact, July 19th, noon to 4:30 is the Scarborough group’s garden tour featuring gardens in the Bluffs. Tickets are $10 and will only be available from the Scarborough Community Centre on the day of the tour. As part of the day, you can come back to the farm for a tour and a tea. On many counts, it would be well worth the visit.


  1. Thanks for sharing. Congrats on the slideshow. I've been trying to figure out how to use that feature effectively on my blog. I always have more pictures that I want to use, and really like the slideshow feature. Just need the time to a bit of tweaking. Great job on yours!!

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