McMurtry Gardens of Justice

61651_signature_McMurtryGardensofJustice.jpg
Toronto, ON
Canada
McMurtry Gardens of Justice

Landscape Information

Extending the length of one city block and serving as the ceremonial pedestrian access from University Avenue to Nathan Phillips Square, this pedestrian mall comprises a fountain court and sculpture garden between Osgoode Hall and the Toronto Courthouse. Named for R. Roy Mc Murtry, a former chief justice and an attorney general of Ontario, the mall was designed by Michael Hough and opened in 1966, coincident with the completion of the courthouse.

The west extent of the mall is anchored by a wide, multi-level paved plaza, whose elevated sections serve as a forecourt to the courthouse. Bordered by raised planting beds, the northern section—paved with brick and enclosed by limestone benches —is interspersed with a grid of honey locust in cobblestone-lined planting beds; the southern section serves as a podium for The Pillars of Justice, a steel sculpture by Edwina Sandys that comprises eleven anthropomorphic figures representing members of a jury. Flanking the plaza and connecting to Nathan Phillips Square, the mall extends through a passageway formed by a dodecagonal wing of the courthouse added in 1985. The western extent is framed by two square, raised pools, each with four fountain jets. The axis of the mall is reinforced intermittently by planting beds and sculptures, three of which were added in 2012: Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Expression (both by Marlene Hilton Moore) frame the eastern entrance to the passageway, while Equal Before the Law, by Eldon Garnet, is at the end, facing Nathan Phillips Square. The mall and Gardens of Justice were refurbished in 2007 by Taylor Hazell Architects.