20 Ava Road, Brantford Ontario
Glenhyrst Gardens is the former residence of Edmund Lister Cockshutt (1861-1956)- of the prominent Brantford industrial family. The Cockshutt family was one of Brantford’s most powerful and influential families - socially, economically and politically. Trustees bequeathed the property - consisting of the main house, the coach house, the cottage and the grounds- to the City of Brantford on Cockshutt’s death to be used for “cultural and artistic purposes to benefit the community” with the provision that the main house be used as a “cultural centre” as had been Edmund’s wish.
E. Cockshutt purchased the property in 1914 from the Stratford family. The property was the site of two houses; Glenhyrst Lodge situated on 40 acres of land east of what is now the bottom of Inwood Drive and Idlewylde, the summer residence of John H. Stratford, which stood near where the gallery stands today.
The gardens were landscaped by E. Cockshutt (beginning in 1914 before the construction of the house) who had an avid interest in horticulture and landscaping. “His lower garden ...was devoted to the cultivation of exotic and experimental plants that were not native to Southern Ontario. He also planted a Ginkgo tree by the gardener’s cottage as well as Lindens and Jack Pines. The gardens were maintained by a succession of gardeners.” The gardens were open to the public even then and used to stage theatrical plays.
Today the grounds and buildings are owned by the City of Brantford and maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department. The Art Gallery of Brant continues to serve the citizens of Brantford and Brant County as a public arts gallery and cultural centre. The main house serves as a gallery, office and exhibition space. The coach house is used for workshops and a variety of arts and craft classes. The Gardener’s Cottage is also used as exhibition space by the Gallery. The upper gardens continue to be maintained as a horticultural park - displaying annual flowers and specimen trees and shrubs.
The lower gardens have changed considerably over the years. For many years the Parks maintained the lower gardens as “trial” beds (similar to E. Cockshutt’s idea) for the many colourful annual plants used in the parks throughout Brantford. Today the lower gardens offer access to the Trans Canada Trail that runs parallel to the Grand River.
The Glenhyrst Gardens are open to all from dawn to dusk daily. Please enjoy this lovely community asset left by Edmund Cockshutt for all to enjoy.