Construction of Dr. George Robert Grasett Park officially underway

Date: 22 August, 2017


On August 22nd, 2017, Ireland Park Foundation invited key supporters and dignitaries to the Ground-Breaking Ceremony of Dr. George Robert Grasett Park. We were honoured to have An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to both speak and break ground with our Chairman and Founder Robert G. Kearns. Mr. Kearns and Taoiseach Varadkar spoke of the immense struggles of the Canadian healthcare workers, who died while caring for the typhus-stricken Irish migrants in the “Summer of Sorrow” of 1847.


Grasett Park commemorates those Canadian healthcare workers who gave their lives while tending to the sick and dying Irish migrants in Toronto. The park is named for Dr. George Robert Grasett, who became Chief Attending Surgeon of the Emigrant Hospital on June 18th, 1847. He passed away from typhus less than a month later, on July 16th. Ireland Park Foundation has uncovered more than ten Canadian healthcare workers who contracted typhus and passed away in 1847, while caring for the migrants.


Grasett Park will be situated on the last remaining parcel of land that contained Toronto’s original hospital compound, at the intersection of what has become Adelaide and Widmer Streets in Toronto’s Entertainment District. The park serves not only as a dedication to the Canadian healthcare workers who gave their lives while helping the Irish migrants, but also as a reminder of the compassionate aid of Torontonians at a time when Toronto’s population of 20,000 accepted an influx of 38,560.


Designed by award-winning Toronto firm, Denegri-Bessai Studio, this park will rise thirty feet into the air. Glass sculptural panels will be fabricated in Collingwood, Ontario and underfoot, Cane’s 1842 Map of Toronto will be etched on Quebec Granite. Grasett Park is an architectural, historic, and artistic space in the heart of downtown Toronto that commemorates the response of Toronto’s medical workers during the city’s largest health crisis.


The Board of Ireland Park Foundation would like to thank the following for their continued support of Grasett Park: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Government of Ireland, Cllr Joe Cressy and the City of Toronto, the staff of Parks, Forestry and Recreation, PACE Credit Union, Geranium, Haynes-Connell Foundation, Aidan Flatley, Pat Flatley, Tyler McNamara, TD Bank, Bank of Montreal, Arrow Capital Management, The Ireland Funds of Canada, Mike Breen & Sue Storey, Norma Smurfit, Canada Life, PPI, Charles Coffey, Cathal O’Connor, Sam Pollock, Oliver Murray, Globe & Mail, and Kearns Insurance Corporation.


Please click here to view the video of the ceremony.