Graydon Hall Manor, known today primarily as a wedding venue in the 401 and Don Mills area, was originally the home of wealthy financier Henry Rupert Bain. It was built in 1936 on over 100 acres overlooking the Don Valley that included formal gardens, tennis courts, polo field, race track, stables for champion race horses, kennels for hunting dogs and a private 9-hole golf course.
Graydon Hall was built primarily with Ontario fieldstone, like other homes in the area but that’s where the similarities stop. The Georgian-style mansion was luxurious with 29 rooms, an indoor pool and an attached two-storey coach house with space for 10 cars. Built during the Great Depression, Bain flaunted his wealth from gold mine investments, while others suffered tremendous hardships.
In 1950 Bain sold half the property to E. P. Taylor, who you may be familiar with as a business tycoon and thoroughbred race horse breeder whose operation later produced famed Canadian horse Northern Dancer. In 1951 Bain and his friend Reginald Watkins switched wives through divorce and remarriage and Bain sold the rest of the property, including the manor, to Nelson Morgan Davis.
Bain was badly injured in a riding accident one month after selling Graydon Hall and died from complications in March 1952 at the age of 54.
Davis, a very private businessman who was one of Canada’s richest people, sold Graydon Hall in 1964 to developers. His son Glen, a prominent philanthropist who supported land conservation, was shot to death in 2007 by killers hired by his godson and cousin Marshall Ross. His murder shocked Toronto.
Much of the land around the manor has been developed and it is now surrounded by high-rise apartments. For many years the property was owned by the city and the pool at Graydon Hall was open to the public; it is where I took my first swimming lessons as an infant. Today the property is a privately owned events venue space.
On the east side of Graydon Hall Drive, on property owned by the TDSD and leading into George S. Henry Academy, stand a pair of gate pillars that mark the old laneway to Graydon Hall. Originally the property was approached by a driveway off of Woodbine Avenue. This part of Woodbine was removed in the 1960s when the Don Valley Parkway was constructed and access was created via the new Graydon Hall Drive from Don Mills Road, which had just been extended north.￼
The fountain sculpture of a lady kneeling and holding a bowl that once graced the formal gardens was designed by sculptor Florence Wyle and is now part of the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario.