Notification Window

Ireland Park: Design Ideas Competition

05 December 2014

Important Dates

Registration Closes: 31 January 2015
Submission Deadline: 31 January 2015
Winner Announcement: TBD
Award Ceremony: TBD



Ireland Park Foundation seeks the ideas of professionals and students of architecture, landscape design and environmental design who would like to share in the creation of Dr. George Robert Grasset Park. This will be a memorial park to three people who died while in the service of the City of Toronto, tending to Irish Famine migrants, in 1847. This is an idea’s competition. The winning entry (or entries) will be taken from concept to implementation by the Ireland Park Foundation. The winners will be recognized on the Ireland Park website and will be part of a special publication about the Park.

Dr. George Robert Grasett Park will commemorate the sacrifice of three remarkable individuals who died while serving sick and dying Irish migrants in Toronto during the summer of 1847. All three played an important role in the medical history of the city as well as the history of migration and settlement of Toronto.

The challenge of this competition is the creation of an affordable design that will allow the Park to become a place for meeting, relaxation, contemplation and reflection for all.

Park Information


The Dr. George Robert Grasett Park site is at the South East corner of Adelaide Street West, at the intersection of Widmer Street. It is right in the Downtown Core of Toronto and occupies a prominent position in the center of Toronto's Entertainment District and along one of Toronto’s main thoroughfares, one way going East.

Though it is now nestled within the dense urban landscape of Toronto’s Entertainment District, the park site was once on the periphery of the city. The corner of what is now Adelaide and Widmer Streets was part of the Hospital Reserve, an expansive ground dedicated for medical purposes in the city’s earliest plans. Bound by what is now Adelaide Street West on the north side and King Street West on the south side, extending to John Street in the east and Peter Street in the west, the peripheral location of the Reserve ensured that medical infrastructure and infected patients, whether of the cholera epidemic in the early 1830s or the Irish infected with the typhus outbreak in 1847 were kept separate from the population of the growing colonial city. Built in 1819, the city’s first General Hospital, which was repurposed temporarily as an Emigrant Hospital in 1847, was situated here. Thus, the site of Dr. George Robert Grasett Park is significant not only to the memory of those infected by typhus in the summer of 1847, but of the broader medical history of the city.


The Park sits on a small footprint of land measuring 80x20 feet, surrounded on two sides by a 47 story high-rise building. With 'valour’, 'selflessness' & 'courage' being the design themes, the main challenge will be to sufficiently create an evocative space with the limited area available. The Park will also have to take into account the multi-use purpose of the site in any design submitted. Access to the building behind, areas for people to sit, housing and covering of services, etc, will all have to be taken into account along with the telling the story of the park, either explicitly or through evocative means.  Upon registration, each entrant will receive a detailed information pack.

Submission Process

Please register your interest here to be sent a full information pack and for any competition updates. 

Competition Dates and Deadlines

Competition Opening: December 5th, 2014

Deadline for Submission: Midnight, January 31st 2015

Review Process: February 15th-29th

Judging and announcement of results: Friday, March 13th 2015

Jury Process and Prizes

Jurors will be members of a multi-disciplinary Jury Panel, made up of experts from both Canada and Ireland.  This is an ideas competition, designed to allow registrants the opportunity to see their conceptual idea brought to fruition. Ireland Park Foundation has engaged Kearns Mancini Architects to work with the winning concept and bring it to completion.

Entrants whose ideas are incorporated into the final design for Dr. George Robert Grasett Park will be named when construction is complete. Additionally the entrant will have an opportunity to publish a written piece about their process to a full publication of the Grasett Park Project.

In the competition, emphasis will be given to aesthetics, accessibility and potential for service to all members of the community, safety, ease of cleaning and maintenance and conformity with Toronto Parks guidelines, as well as practicality and affordability.

How to Register?

All submissions that register here will be sent a confirmation email and, shortly thereafter, a full information pack. The information pack will include the story of Dr. George Robert Grasett as well as the two other individuals commemorated by this Park.  It will also outline any building guidelines and City regulations that must be taken into account.

Submissions Overview

While participants may make as many submissions as they like, it is up to individual participant to exercise their discretion in evaluating the merit of each scheme.  All submissions must be received no later than the 31st of January 2015.

Submission Requirements

• An explanation of your work in English or French.

• One or more 2D graphic representations of your design on A3 (11x17in) paper or smaller

• Or your design in PDF format on a CD or DVD

• Submissions in hard copy must be sent or delivered in a single sealed package. Any number of pages may be submitted but they must be numbered

• Plans, drawings and other artwork submitted must be no larger than 11x17in

• Scale models may be submitted but their base area should not exceed 11x17in

• Scale: 1/8in = 1ft or 1/100) is recommended for graphics and models

• Submissions will be returned to participants only at the submitters’ expense and at the submitter’s risk; Ireland Park Foundation can take no responsibility for loss of or damage to submissions

* Models should be delivered in person at a mutually agreed time to the address below or by registered mail, Purolator or FedEx. Please

Note: Models submitted will be treated with great care but neither the addressee nor Ireland Park Foundation can take responsibility for any loss or damage that might occur during transit, while they are on public display or throughout the review and judging process. Submitters of models should recover them in person or arrange for their collection as soon as possible after judging and the declaration of contest results.

Back Story

In the summer of 1847, at a time when the City of Toronto had a population of no more than 20,000 inhabitants, 38,565 Irish migrants landed on the city's waterfront. The administrative powers of Toronto mounted what would have been a gargantuan task to assess, process, and filter this number of people out into the Canadian countryside. At the center of this effort was the City’s medical profession, who had to attend to the sufferers of Typhus, an incurable and often fatal illness that was rampant amongst the migrants.

Dr. George Robert Grasett Park is their story.

Dr. George Robert Grasett was a medical professional with a drive to help those less fortunate than himself. In addition to his own practice, he was active with the city’s House of Industry, and a founding member of the Toronto General Dispensary, which provided “medical and surgical advice and medicines to the indigent sick.” In June 1847, he secured the appointment of Chief Attending Surgeon to the newly opened Emigrant Hospital. The Emigrant Hospital had been established to serve the thousands of typhus-ridden Irish who had fled famine in Ireland and arrived in Toronto in desperate need of medical attention. Less than a month after his appointment, on the 18th of June, Grasett succumbed to the very illness he had dedicated himself to treating on July 16th. Grasett’s obituary praised him for his unceasing devotion to the “amelioration of the sufferings of his fellow men, irrespective of hire or reward.” 

Grasett was not the only medical officer to die in the discharge of his or her duty.

Nurse Susan Bailey, at just 32, died in August 1847 of the ‘fever’. Though we have much yet to learn about Bailey she is nevertheless representative of those medical workers who put themselves in harm’s way in the treatment of the sick and dying in the summer of 1847.

The third person to be commemorated is the emigrant agent Edward McElderry. McElderry was responsible for coordinating the initial reception of the destitute and often gravely ill Irish migrants who arrived each day by the hundreds in Toronto. Like Grasett and Bailey, McElderry succumbed to ‘fever’ on the 29th October 1847

These three notable individuals played a pivotal role in a period of great transition in Toronto and in Canada. The essential medical and humanitarian service they provided to the newly arrived and desperate Irish emigrants laid the foundation for the Canada we know today. These three people not only aided the influx of Irish who became the ancestors of modern day Canadians but also established a heritage of kindness to those less fortunate than themselves that carries on today. It is with this in mind that the Ireland Park Foundation wishes to remind those who pass this site that it is the legacy of the past that is also the legacy of the future.

For more information on the Ireland Park Competition, Click Here