McCormick Playground Arena is the official name of the building as a tribute to the McCormick Playground. Opened on July 1, 1911, the McCormick Playground at 163 Brock Avenue was Toronto’s largest children’s playground until 1963 when it became known as McCormick Park at 66 Sheridan Avenue. McCormick Playground was the namesake of Mary Virginia McCormick, a wealthy Toronto resident who donated generously to the Toronto Playgrounds Association.
Mary Virginia McCormick (1861-1941) of Chicago was a philanthropist whose father, Cyrus Hall McCormick (1809-1884), founded the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company in 1847. She was a resident of Toronto from 1908 to 1924 who donated a total of $25,000 to the Toronto Playgrounds Association to build the largest municipal children’s playground with a community recreation centre in Toronto on the property of the former Grand National Rink.
Photo: Mary Virginia McCormick, February 17, 1901, W.C. Gray, Wisconsin Historical Society
Mary Virginia McCormick (1861-1941) visited Toronto in 1904 and her family bought the Oaklands estate at 131 Farnham Avenue as her residency in Canada from the family of Senator John Macdonald (1824-1890) in 1905. Receptions for charities were held inside her home and elaborate springtime garden parties for families were held annually on the grounds of the estate. The property was sold to the Brothers of the Christian Schools in 1931 and became De La Salle College “Oaklands.”
Photo: Oaklands Estate in Toronto, c. 1900, Freelands, Library and Archives Canada
Grace Thorne Walker (1866-1952) of Stratford, Ontario was the personal caregiver of Mary Virginia McCormick (1861-1941) and together they held annual Christmas pageants for 400 children and their parents at the McCormick Recreation Centre.
Photo: Grace Thorne Walker, c. 1906, Huntsville-Madison County Public Library Archives Collection
Nancy Maria “Nettie” Fowler McCormick (1835-1923) of Chicago was the mother of Mary Virginia McCormick (1861-1941) who attended the opening ceremony of the McCormick Recreation Centre in Toronto with Mayor George Reginald Geary (1872-1954) on September 21, 1912.
Photo: Nettie Fowler McCormick, c. 1920, Wisconsin Historical Society
Famous Philanthropists: The Story of Virginia McCormick and Grace Walker, narrated by Heather Adkins, Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, March 16, 2021