The History of Cullen Gardens and Miniature Village

You might not remember “Weill and Cullen Nurseries” or “Cullen Country Barns” but you might remember Cullen Gardens and Miniature village. Cullen Gardens was located in Whitby on the corner of Taunton Road and Cochrane Street and was founded in 1985. Cullen Gardens was a top tourist attraction for 25 years. Cullen Gardens officially closed its doors on New Year’s Day of 2005. The restaurant would continue in operation for another year before it too closed. Len Cullen, the founder of Cullen Gardens, passed away a short time after and the property was donated to the city to be used as a park.

The Lynde House is Whitby’s oldest building built in 1812 by Jabez Lynde originally located beside what is now known as Lynde Creek. Len Cullen bought and moved the Lynde house to Cullen gardens where he then did a full restoration. The photograph is of the Lynde House as it appeared at Cullen gardens in 2004 . Visitors would be greeted by a mannequin advertising the Lynde House by saying, “Come on in and see the Lynde House you won’t believe your eyes!” When Cullen Gardens closed in 2005, the Lynde House followed suit and remained closed with 90% of the original furniture inside it. In 2013, the Whitby Historical Society bought the house and moved it to the corner of Brock Street and Burns Street where they plan on opening it once again to the public as a museum in 2015.

Another major attraction was the Miniature Village showcasing different models of buildings throughout Durham. In 2012, the village was bought from the City of Oshawa by the Niagara Park Commission to be used at their Botanical Gardens. Today the village can be seen as part of their Christmas display each year.

Since the park closed in 2005, many potential buyers have showed interest in the site. Some wanted to tear it down and build condos. This was denied by Whitby Town Council because it was marsh land. Another proposal was made to construct a subdivision but it was rejected for the same reason. Recently a local spa company bought the property and have started to construct a spa on the grounds. So the next time you are in Whitby, stop by the former property of Cullen Gardens and take a stroll down memory lane!