Built on the site of the city’s first brick hospital, Grasett Park commemorates the 1847 typhus epidemic in Toronto, and particularly the selfless doctors, nurses, and other caregivers who came to the aid of the thousands of Irish Famine migrants who arrived in Toronto that summer gravely ill with typhus, then known as ship fever. Tragically, some of the healthcare workers who sought to help the desperate newcomers lost their own lives to the disease, including Dr. George Robert Grasett, the Hospital Superintendent, after whom the park is named.
The glass sculpture recalls the temporary fever sheds constructed on the site in 1847 to accommodate the influx of sick newcomers. The cheesecloth pattern imprinted in the glass echoes the cheesecloth hung within the fever sheds to shield patients from the heat and flies.
On the ground, the black granite surface is engraved with James Cane’s 1842 map of Toronto. Engraved on the benches scattered throughout the small urban park are the names of the medical staff, clergy, and migrant support workers known to have died of the contagious illness while tending to patients at the Emigrant Hospital in 1847.