The Guild Inn was an historic hotel in the Guildwood neighbourhood of Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario. It evolved out of Ranelagh Park, a 33 room, Arts and Crafts-style manor house built in 1914 for Colonel Harold Bickford atop the Scarborough Bluffs, that was in 1921 sold to the Roman Catholic Church's Foreign Mission Society and renamed the China Mission College. It was, however, soon abandoned, remaining so until 1932, when it was purchased by Rosa Breithaupt Hewetson. After her marriage to Herbert Spencer Clark, the couple continued to reside in the mansion, and there fostered the arts, turning the home into a museum, so that by the time of the Second World War it had became The Guild of All Arts. The Clarks created across their property homes and workshops for artists, such as The Studio, which was assembled out of a garage and a stable from different parts of the grounds; it accommodated those practising batik, woodworking, weaving, and metalworking. The Clarks also began collecting architectural elements from demolished buildings and erecting them in the gardens of the Guild as follies.
As more people were attracted to the artistic community on the bluffs, the Clarks made additions to the Guild in 1941 and 1942,<ref name=GuildHist2 /> after which the Crown in Right of Canada leased the property as a base for the Women's Royal Naval Service, called HMCS Bytown II, and following the conclusion of hostilities in Europe, retained it until 1947 as Scarborough Hall, a hospital for the treatment of nervous disorders. The house was returned to the Clarks, who restored to its pre-war functions, but were forced by rising property taxes to only six years later sell 400 acre of their land to developers, though Spencer Clark oversaw the planning of the area that would become Guildwood Village.<ref name=GuildHist2 /> On the remaining 90 acre around the Guild itself, the Clarks continued collecting and adding to their array of architectural remnants, as Victorian, Beaux-Arts, and Gothic Revival buildings throughout the city were pulled down to make way for Toronto's post-war growth and new attitudes towards planning. Altogether, pieces of more than 60 structures were amassed,<ref name=GuildHist /> from buildings such as the Toronto Bank Building and the home of Sir Frederick Banting, as well as various pieces of artwork, including 14 by Sorel Etrog. The Guild Inn proved so popular as a lakeside resort and artisans' community that in 1965 a six storey, 100 room addition and a swimming pool were added, plus further renovations in 1968.
A decade following, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority purchased the Guild Inn and continued its operation as a hotel.<ref name=GuildHist2 /> The inn's fortunes declined over the years, however, as the city of Scarborough grew more urban around it, making it less desirable as a vacation spot yet still too far from the city core to serve as a utilitarian hotel. In 1993, with the buildings noticeably run down, the property was turned over to the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, which used the park and structures for private functions; namely, wedding photo shoots. Still, by 2001 the hotel and restaurant were closed, with only the park remaining open to the public, while new tenants were sought. A non-profit group called Artscape approached the city with a proposed strategy for a cultural precinct on the Guild Inn site, which was met with interest. More concrete plans came, however, in September 2008, when the city approved a plan by Centennial College to operate a hotel, restaurant, and conference centre on the site for use in the school's hospitality courses, as well as to act as a location to house the college's Cultural and Heritage Institute. Though a fire on 25 December 2008 destroyed The Studio,<ref name=Guild /> preparations for Centennial's development continued, and the city in January 2009 approved the demolition of the hotel tower. From 1998 to 2003 The Gardens and Greek Theatre at the The Guild Inn were home to the award-winning theatre company, Cliffhanger Productions, which specialized in adaptations of world mythology for family audiences.
- Photography of Chris Smart - In the Garden of The Guild
- The Guild Inn - Pararesearch files
- City of Toronto description
- Press Release of demolition