Find Your Star in Richmond Hill- David Dunlap Observatory
According to Sir John Frederick William Herschel, the stars are the landmarks of the universe. It is no wonder that the future of the David Dunlap Observatory was an issue of discussion for the town of Richmond Hill. The David Dunlap is a significant cultural heritage property located at 123 Hillsview Drive in Richmond Hill. It was established by the University of Toronto in 1935 and has been a significant site for important teaching, public education and research in the field of Astronomy and Astrophysics. The site includes an observatory structure (opened in 1935), an administration building (a stone building opened in 1935) containing classrooms/offices and the director’s residence (a brick farmhouse dating from c. 1864, known as Elms Lea). The property also includes landscaped open space and natural areas. This property was sold by the University of Toronto to Corsica Development (part of Metrus Developments) in 2008.
The observatory was named after Mining executive David Dunlap who was a businessman and amateur astronomer. It was his widow Jessie Dunlap who financed the construction of the observatory that would contain the second-largest astronomical telescope in the world. It opened its doors in 1935 when the surrounding Town of Richmond Hill had just over 1,000 residents. Jessie Dunlop eventually gifted the observatory buildings and the surrounding park lands to the University of Toronto in memory of her late husband.
Since the DDO opened, Richmond Hill’s population has grown to over 160,000 residents. The booming development has let to an increase in light pollution forcing the U of T to close the site. Although the closing and the selling of the observatory was a controversial one, the public today is welcome to visit the David Dunlap Observatory. Heritage Services are offering free tours of the Richmond Hill David Dunlap Observatory Administration Building. Learn the history of the land, and see the architectural features of the Beaux Art style building and the observatory’s 74 inch telescope. Don’t miss this opportunity on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 from 7 to 8pm. Other tour dates are August 21st and 26.
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