​Celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Max Tanenbaum Garden, an ‘oasis’ at The Princess Margaret

By Sheri Block

Aerial shot of The Max Tanenbaum Garden on the 16th floor rooftop of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre

For the past 20 years, The Max Tanenbaum Garden at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has provided a beautiful, serene space for patients, their families, staff and volunteers. 

On August 8, a celebration event was held to commemorate the anniversary of the Garden and to thank The Tauba and Solomon Spiro Family Foundation for creating and maintaining it. 

“Thank you for the vision. Thank you for the generous support and thank you for maintaining your interest all these years,” Dr. Gary Rodin, Head, Department of Supportive Care at The Princess Margaret, told the Spiro family at the event. 

Located on the 16th floor of the Cancer Centre, the 8,000-square foot rooftop space features Brazilian hardwood flooring, an array of flowers and greenery and a partial roof made of stainless steel to provide shade.

The idea for the Garden was conceived by the Spiro family to pay tribute to Tauba’s late father Max Tanenbaum, a noted Canadian businessman and philanthropist, who passed away in 1983. 

It was designed by esteemed landscape architect Neil Turnbull in 1998.

Spiro Family 

“For the last 20 years your team has enhanced and maintained the Garden … we are most grateful,” Tauba said to Turnbull during the celebration.

According to Dr. Rodin, the Garden brings “humanity and balance” to the Cancer Centre.

“The Garden has become an institution. It was an innovative idea at the time, no one had thought to use the space in that way. But Tauba Spiro and her family conceived the idea and it’s been a godsend for so many patients at The Princess Margaret. It’s just changed the whole atmosphere of the Cancer Centre,” he said. 

Tauba and Solomon’s son David Spiro says the garden is a very special place for many people, him included.

“It’s incredible because, first of all, it is a tribute to my parents who had the idea to put something there that would enhance the lives of patients and their families, visitors and staff and it has really come to fruition. Every single year it is used for special events, enjoyment and pleasure. It has become an oasis within a hospital where these things aren’t often found,” he said. 

He says the Garden has become part of the Cancer Centre’s DNA and is one of the things that makes The Princess Margaret so special. 

His mother echoes this sentiment and hopes the Garden can continue to be enjoyed for years to come.

“Here’s to the next 20 years of the Max Tanenbaum Garden,” said Tauba, concluding her remarks at the celebration.

The Spiro family’s support has also funded other psychosocial and supportive care programs such as the Music in the Atrium program and Jazz for the Soul, held Friday afternoons in the Garden. 

“Music and nature are both things that nourish the soul and the spirit of people and we’ve been able to put those two things together thanks to the generous support from the Spiro family,” said Dr. Rodin.