For time immemorial, long before Children’s Peace Theatre and the Massey Goulding Estate in which it operates were even dreamed of, there existed the sacred land and the ancestors of the original people. Tkaronto, “where the trees stand in water,” is a part of the traditional territory of many nations: the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, the Wendat, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit. This land is subject to the Dish with One Spoon wampum belt covenant, an agreement between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and a confederacy of Anishinabek and allied nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes.
Massey Goulding Estate
Children’s Peace Theatre occupies the Massey Goulding Estate, a 5,000 square foot heritage home in Taylor Creek Park in Toronto’s east end. It is a peaceful setting – a taste of the country for urban Toronto.
The land and structures were part of the Dentonia Park Farm, founded by the prominent Toronto family of Walter and Susan Denton Massey as an experimental dairy farm in 1897. At the turn of the century, 16 out of every 100 Toronto infants died, many from typhoid fever and tuberculosis caused by drinking contaminated milk. The philanthropic Masseys produced pasteurized milk to help prevent children’s deaths at a time when pasteurization was virtually unknown.
Built in the 1920’s, the beautiful Arts and Crafts style home was a wedding gift for Dorothy Massey and her husband Dr. Arthur Goulding. It is the only house lived in by a Dentonia Park Massey that still stands on what was once 240 acres of farm land.
The house was designed by Ferdinand Marani, a prominent Canadian architect, in 1921. As an early example of Marani’s work, it ranked as one of the outstanding residences of Canada and Ontario in the late 1920’s. The house shows the influence of Eden Smith, whose comfortable, cottage-like designs revolutionized the nature of public housing in early twentieth century Toronto.
Dorothy raised her family in the house and through her love for the arts, even encouraged her own children and others to perform fairy tales and other stories. Her initiative grew into the Toronto Children’s Theatre. After Dorothy passed away, the house became the property of the Borough of East York.
In the summer of 1997, Eldon and Marcella Hannon Shields saw the potential of the abandoned home as an opportunity to continue the work of the Centre for Leadership and Peace. They negotiated with the City to restore the estate and the grounds.
Nine graduates of the Compassionate Leadership Program restored the building and grounds with the effort of more than fifty volunteers. Lucy Bowers, Lily Dashwood, Anna Gormley, Donna Grassby, Margaret Keogh, Janine Kinch, Leanne Kloppenborg, John Lee, Jill Segal, Erika Wolff, Marcella and Eldon and the volunteers labored around the clock to complete the first round of restorations in time for the opening session of the Compassionate Leadership Program. Michael Kilgar completed the restoration four years later. Gradually, the Arts and Crafts style mansion and grounds that Dorothy Massey received as a wedding gift from her family in 1921 were restored to their simplicity and beauty.
Children’s Peace Theatre had its first public performance in 2000. Former members of the Toronto Children’s Theatre, some of whom were professional actors on the Canadian stage, came to support this new initiative for children.
The Massey Goulding Estate now belongs to the City of Toronto and the Children’s Peace Theatre is grateful to use it in the service of the young people in our community.
Using Our Space
CPT's unique house and grounds are an excellent choice for meetings, workshops, artistic workspace, retreats and educational or community events.
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