In 1939, Doris McCarthy bought a 12-acre (4-hectare) property overlooking the Scarborough Bluffs. Her mother called the property a “fool’s paradise” because she thought it extravagant that a young art teacher would spend more money than she earned in a year for undeveloped, isolated pasture land. McCarthy embraced the disapproving moniker and the property became known as Fool’s Paradise.
McCarthy designed and built her home herself, beginning with a small cottage in 1940 and moving in permanently in 1946. The property is an expression of McCarthy’s creativity and character. It is maintained essentially as she left it – in an effort to conserve and protect the spirit and fabric of the place.
McCarthy donated the property to the Ontario Heritage Trust in 1998 to conserve its scenic, esthetic, natural and cultural values, with the wish that it would become an artist-in-residence centre and venue for heritage activities following her death.
Fool’s Paradise is a unique heritage site that boasts a rustic, whimsical cottage, mature trees, an adjacent ravine, a pond and open space with expansive vistas above the majestic Scarborough Bluffs overlooking Lake Ontario. Quiet and picturesque, the site is just 13 miles (21 km) east of downtown Toronto.
In 2000, the pedestrian trail in the Bellamy Ravine on the east side of the property was officially named Doris McCarthy Trail in honour of her work. Several acres of land in the ravine were donated to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.