Travel back in time

Explore the history of the Tower and the Gardens of Tower Hill Heritage Garden




The tower began a new life in 2011 with the property Designation and founding of the tower Hill Gardeners.  Learn more about how to become a member and support the garden. 

2005-11- Tower Hill Park and Garden are maintained by Town Staff, keeping the grounds tidy, maintaining the pond and planting annual flowers each summer. The Ranger Cabin deteriorates to the point that Staff recommends its demolition.

2011    -  the gardens and surrounding area are designated as heritage property by the Town of Parry Sound

2012    -  Anne Bossart collects a group of volunteers, the Tower Hill Gardeners, who begin restoring and developing the gardens at Tower Hill with the support of the Parry Sound & District Horticultural Society, Museum on Tower Hill and the Town of Parry Sound

2013- Town Council earmarks $25,000 for the restoration of the Ranger Cabin and the “Cabin Crew” gets to work

2015 - Installation of the Lilac Walk.

2016- Tower Hill Gardeners secure a $5,000 grant from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for the creation of a Wildlife Habitat Native Plant Garden

2017  - In 2017 the Tower Hill Gardeners have raised $6,811, and volunteers spent 526 hours in the garden.

Today    -  the Tower Hill Gardeners continue to work hard to ensure that Tower Hill remains a destination for all visitors to Parry Sound.

Between The Eras


1960’s to 2005

Changes in firefighting technology shifted the role of the tower taking it from essential equipment to tourist destination.  The tower changed hands several times in this era.

The Most recent research was completed in the 1970s so if you have anything to add to the history of this period (and into the 1980s & 90s) please contact us to share photos and stories


  • Tower network fire detection system abandoned by the Province of Ontario. Towers were rendered obsolete by the use of airplanes and radios


  • Chamber of Comemrce requests the plantation be cut down from the edges of the hill so that people who couldn’t climb the tower could view Georgian Bay

  • Ministry of Natural Resources refused on the basis that it would expose view of oil tanks and spoil the setting of the park and gardens

  • Tower closed to public after being declared unsafe

  • New communications tower built 100 yards from gardens and old tower dismantled

  • New tower, the one that is standing today, opened to the public


  • Property acquired from Ministry of Natural Resources to be developed for recreational and tourism purposes (potential location for Bobby Orr Hall of Fame, District Museum, performance space and art gallery)

  • Property leased (20 years) to the West Parry Sound District Museum Board

  • Gardens and Tower under jurisdiction of the Museum

  • Ranger cabin opened as a Museum Shoppe to raise funds for the new building

  • Shoppe has 5,033 visitors during a 34 day period up to August 23rd.


  • West Parry Sound District Museum opens at its new location on Tower Hill


  • Gardens and Tower revert to the Town as the cost of maintenance too much for the Museum

Expanding the Tower's Reach

Back door to Heaven_corrected.jpg

1940s & 1950s

Through this era the tower Garden & Tree Plantation continues to grow, even as technology is changing how the tower is used. 


  • employees climbed to roof to turn lights back on after WWII

  • Department Lands & Forests acquired a parcel of 11 acres from the Beatty family which had been part of the tree plantation in order to protect it


  • small menagerie of Canada geese, guinea hens, pheasants and ducks take up residence in the Tower gardens

  • Department Lands & Forests began to develop the Tower as a communications centre. Radio equipment is installed on the tower which allows for less interference and improved transmission of signals. It also eliminated the need for hundreds of miles of telephone wires that joined together the fire tower network across Northern Ontario.

  • 6.5 acres of land acquired from the Town (Ranger Cabin was located on this parcel)

  • Construction begun on road from Forest Street to site

  • Bathroom built in Ranger Cabin

How does your garden grow?



Reaching it's peak usefulness (for Fire Protection) 1935, the tower becomes a destination with gardens, a Forest Plantation & Ranger's Cabin.


  • Forestry Branch report indicated that the tower and garden was already a popular spot they could not abandon. 2026 visitors signed the book at the top of the tower, many more visited the gardens

  • Size of plantation doubled by planting 15 acres with mixed conifers and hardwoods

  • Tower staff acquired a 1.5 ton Rugby (truck) which they equipped with a box to haul fill and rocks up the hill

  • Contruction Begins on the Ranger Cabin.

    • District Forester Peter McEwen acquired $600 to build a 16X30 ft frame bungalow for the towerman- he designed the strcture himself ensuring that the building harmonized with the grounds


  • Construction complete of fishpond and model of tower

  • Design, fabrication and installation of sundial with motto “It’s Later than you Think”

  • Planting completed on 3 acres on steep slope between Great North Road and CPR tracks

  • 11,000 pines added to fill gaps left by trees that had succumbed to drought conditions


  • rock garden around base of tower completed – planted mainly with coniferous shrubs (not flowers)


  • Tower system reached its peak of usefulness for fire detection, detecting 63% of fires in the district

Engage with the past & support the future