Early July we attended a wedding at Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, Ontario just outside Toronto. We were excited to see this place. It is the estate home and property of auto baron R. Samuel McLaughlin (founder of General Motors of Canada), many years ago and it's situated on a large city block, multi acre estate that is used for weddings, parties, tours, etc.
Most weddings here in summer, like the one we attended, are outdoors. I believe they have indoor functions too, but not sure of that.
The service was in the SUNKEN GARDEN which was at the extreme corner of the property, a long walk from parking. It was totally exposed to the weather elements and this day was extremely hot and humid, well into 90 degrees F and no breeze. The sunken garden is set up with a gazebo area at the front where the bride & groom sign the register after the service while the guests sit out in the open on churchlike benches. The faciility does not provide microphones for the service and because it is located at a busy traffic corner only the first couple of rows could hear anything the minister said. Not a good start.
After the service everyone moved as quickly as they could for cover from the sun, heat and humidity only to find there are very few park benches available. The walking paths around the areas look nice but are flagstone rocks and you had to be careful about tripping on them. Walking on the grass was safer and more direct but caused some problems for women in heels.
The FORMAL GARDEN was where they had dinner served -- it was in the other extreme corner of the property - quite a hike from the sunken garden and down about 30 stairs with no railings. It was a beautiful location especially with the fountains on, and a large tent beside the fountain was where the dinner was served and dancing. But what a sweatbox! They didn't even have a ceiling fan in the tent to move the air and it spoiled the whole event. Obviously the estate cannot be blamed for the weather, but you would expect a professionally run place to be prepared for all conditions to keep their guests comfortable ... but Parkwood Estate did nothing. Also, because the formal garden area is sunken there were no breezes -- just dead hot, humid air.
Surprisingly, there was little provision for people in wheelchairs and lots of stairs to climb down to the gardens and back up. You had to climb all those stairs and walk about 3 football field lengths just to go to the bathroom (3 stalls for 100 people). Very limited parking on the grounds but you can park at a school across the street on weekends, which increases your walking distances.
The food served was just terrible, and not what was ordered by the wedding organizers. The steaks were small, full of gristle and overcooked. The chicken choice was like rubber. Vegetables were mush and cold. Nobody said anything to the bride and groom, of course, but it was probably $100 a plate and a complete rip-off. I doubt that anyone there would recommend this place for a dinner wedding function.
Parkwood Estate is run by the City of Oshawa, and they are killing it without proper food service and facilities. They need professionals rather than kids, washrooms near the outside function areas and gardens, microphones for speakers, more covered areas in case of extreme sun, heat and rain, and a more genuine attitude for customer service. If you are considering this place for a wedding or special function, I suggest you go elsewhere.
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