The Great Esker

July 7, 2018

This week I bought the Bruce Trail App for my phone and so it got it’s first workout.  After identifying a section we hadn’t been on before we set out for the parking area on the map (8th line north of 22 Side road, north of Georgetown).  There are several places that you can pull off and park that are not on the map including where the main trail crosses the road a little farther north.  With the tracking feature turned on it marked our trail as we progressed and created a record of the hike that can be saved toward earning trail badges.

Great Esker

We entered on the Eight Line Side Trail and made our way to The Great Esker Side Trail.  Along the way we identified the remains of an old car in the woods.  It has clearly been there for decades as it has no motor and is surrounded by mature trees. It is in a very advanced state of decay.  The front bumpers and grill pattern were quite unique in the various car models of the 1940’s.  Having looked through hundreds of online picyures, positive identification wasn’t possible but the closest candidate was a 1946 Chevy Stylemaster.  That particular car was a sedan and this model was most likely a truck.

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Flowering Raspberries grow along the trail in many places.  Their flowers are quite large for the raspberry family and have a long period of blooms which also makes them of special interest to honey bees.  The fruit looks like a large flat raspberry and is used by mammals and birds.

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Eskers are glacial deposits that run in nearly straight lines and rise above the surrounding landscapes.  They are formed during the melting phase of the ice age when water is rushing in a river either over or under the ice.  The formation of eskers is described in greater detail in our earlier post The Brampton Esker.  The Great Esker Side Trail runs, in part, along the top of an esker.  It stands about 30 metres above the surrounding terrain but is much shorter than the one in Brampton.  As far as eskers go, the Great Esker isn’t so great.  The Thelon Esker is almost 800 kilomtres long.  The trail leads directly up the esker.

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The escarpment is made up of limestone and harder layers of dolostone.  Scattered throughout the landscape are large granite boulders that appear to be out of place.  They have been carried by the glacier and deposited across the province by the retreating ice sheet.  Rocks that are different sizes or minerals than the ones common to where they are found are known as glacial erratics.

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Old stone fences run through the trees marking off the earlier fields.  More recently some guide wires have been put in some places along the trail.  These are growing into the trees in several spots.

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Most of the mayapples, or mandrakes, have been harvested by the local wildlife but a couple large ones remained that are still green.  When they start to turn yellow they will put off a pungent odor that attracts raccoons. It is suggested to remove the seeds if you do happen to harvest some of this native fruit.  You’ll have to be lucky because the raccoons check daily for the newly ripening fruit.

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Butterflies abound along the trial and this Appalachian Brown was one of several flittering among the plants.

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The poison ivy doing very well along the sides of the trails.  Urushiol oil in the leaves and stem causes an allergic reaction in 85% of people.  It is white when the stem is broken but turns black upon exposure to oxygen.  The oil is highly concentrated and a drop the size of a pin head can cause an allergic reaction in 500 people.  In the United States about 350,000 people a year get a rash that can last for up to 3 weeks.

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One of the truly interesting boardwalks is this one that takes advantage of this tree and the massive root system to carry the trail.

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Snow Creek Falls are located at the intersection of 27th side road and the 8th line so we made a detour to see how much water was there at this time.

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It was certainly cool to check out the Great Esker Side Trail and take the Bruce Trail App for a test run.  It likely means more hikes on the Bruce in the near future.

Google Maps Link: The Great Esker Side Trail

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Bruce Trail – Toronto Section

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Starting in 1959 the Bruce Trail was conceived and developed with the northern terminus being unveiled in 1967.  The trail covers 890 kilometers between Tobermory and Queenston.

For those in the GTA we are lucky because the Bruce Trail runs across our doorstep with large parts being accessible within an hour from midtown Toronto.  The Toronto Section covers 50 kilometers of main trail and 55 additional ones of side trails between Kelso and Cheltenham.  Exact maps of this section can be purchased from the Bruce Trail maps covering maps 11-14 and a more general overview is seen below.  For slightly more than the price of four maps you can buy the Bruce Trail App for your phone.  It does pretty much everything except hike the trail for you.  The annual section end to end hike is scheduled for September 8-9, 2018 and covers an area that has been explored both in terms of the trail and local history in a number of stories.  Hiking the GTA has put together a series of links to these local treasures along the trail.

 

Toronto section

The trail section starts at Kelso if you are hiking from the south toward the north.  The conservation area has many of it’s own trails and the area was once home to a lime industry.  Two kilns remain near the main trail.

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Just a short distance north of the 401 the Hilton Falls side trail runs for 9.2 km and let’s you visit the falls with the remaining portions of the original mill.

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The trail follows the edge of the escarpment and passes The Gap created by Dufferin Quarries in 1962 to allow extraction of aggregates from an open pit mine.  The trail crosses the gap on a bridge allowing you to see the restoration efforts that will eventually turn this area into a parkland.  The aptly named Restoration Side Trail will let you have a view of the restoration process in a closed section of the pit.

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After passing through the Scotch Block the trail leads to Speyside.  This little community has one of Ontario’s only heritage trees. In 1937, to celebrate the coronation of King George VI on May 12th, acorns from Windsor Park in England were sent all across the commonwealth. The Royal Oak Of Speyside was planted by the local school children.

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Several side trails extend from the main trail over the next few kilometres.  One of these, The Canada Goose Side Trail, leads through an old homestead and along the edge of another one of Dufferin Quarries limestone extraction operations.

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The next heritage site along the trail is found at Limehouse where the remains of several lime kilns have been preserved.  This area became well known for the production of lime used in the construction industry.  One of the interesting artifacts is the restored powder house where the blasting powder was stored.

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From Limehouse the trail continues north using a combination of trails and sections of roads until it reaches Silver Creek and Scotsdale Farm.  One of the defining features of Fallbrook is the stone arch bridge that was built in the 1870’s.  The stone for the bridge was taken from the decommissioned saw mill just downstream.

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Silver Creek Conservation area is also home to the Irwin Quarry Side Trail.  This trail leads to one of the 50 small quarries that have come and gone along the escarpment.  The quarry was successful because the layer of soil on top of the limestone was very shallow allow for easy extraction.

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The Credit Valley Footpath is another side trail that runs for almost 10 kilometres and leads to two historical sites.  The Barber Paper Mills in Georgetown dates back to 1837 but unfortunately it is suffering from demolition through neglect.

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A couple of kilometres farther downstream the Barbers erected the first dynamo in Canada to generate electricity and transmit it over wires to power a mill.

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Meanwhile, the main trail carries on through the Terra Cotta Conservation Area.  This park has many of its own trails and is home to a 12-metre plunge waterfall on Roger’s Creek.

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The Toronto Section of the Bruce Trail ends near the Cheltenham badlands.  This area of Queenston Shale was exposed to erosion in the 1930’s and was crossed by the main trail until recently.  The area had been closed for a few years because people wouldn’t stay on the trail and were increasing the erosion.   A new parking lot and boardwalk have been installed this year to allow people to check it out up close.

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The Toronto Section of the Bruce Trail, along with all the side trails, provide people in the GTA with quick access to some great hiking with plenty of views and historical artifacts.

Google Maps Links for the stories are included within the links.

Check out all three of our Greatest Treks compilations here: OneTwo, Three

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Greatest Treks 3

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Hiking the GTA recently passed a couple of milestones having released over 300 stories with over 500,000 reads.  This post gives a quick look at some of the most popular posts from the past 12 months.  A short description of the blog as well as a picture and a link are provided.  If you represent one of those half-million reads we owe you our gratitude and present this summary as our way of saying “Thank You”.

15. River and Ruin Side Trail 

The River and Ruin Side Trail allows you to visit the ruins of James Cleaver’s house.  The mill that he built still stands in Lowville as a public residence.

14. Griffin House

Eneral Griffin came to Canada via the undergound railroad that helped runaway American slaves find their way to a new life.  Griffin set up home in this house in 1834 in a white community where he lived as a welcome member of society.

13. Burnhamthorpe – Ghost Towns of The GTA

Only four buildings survive in the former community of Burnhamthorpe, one of which is the old Methodist Church built in 1874.

12. Camp 30 – Bowmanville POW Camp

Built as a boys school in the 1920’s these buildings, and several others, were taken over for use as a prisoner of war camp in 1941.  The buildings have since been abandoned and although they have heritage value are being allowed to deteriorate to the point where they may no longer be salvageable.

11. Devil’s Cave

The cave entrance has collapsed but it used to be wide enough to slide through into the cavern beyond. It is said that William Lyon Mackenzie hid in here when he was fleeing after his failed rebellion in 1837.

10. Norway – Ghost Towns of The GTA

A community formed along the Kingston Road in the area of the beaches that had 80 residents.  The early name was Berkley but it was later changed to Norway.

9. Abandoned DVP Ramp

Nature is reclaiming this former on ramp for the DVP.  It was closed in 2005 because it was the site of multiple accidents over the years.  It was too close to an exit ramp and cars were speeding up and slowing down on the same short stretch of highway.

8. Glenorchy – Ghost Towns of The GTA

The community of Glenorchy is probably best remembered for the collapse of the local bridge under the weight of a fully loaded potato truck.  This 1835 log cabin is one of the few remaining buildings from Glenorchy.

7. Massey – Golding Estate

Hart Massey was Canada’s first major industrialist.  His family built an empire around the manufacture of farming equipment.  The family house still stands in Taylor Park and the family is remembered through Massey Hall and the new Massey Tower downtown.

6. Humber Grove – Ghost Towns of The GTA

Humber Grove was a quiet community just north of Bolton on the Humber River until 1954 and the arrival of Hurricane Hazel.  The town was in the flood plain and were deemed to be at risk of future flooding.  The conservation authorities across the GTA were authorized to buy the houses in the various flood plains and have them demolished.

5. Rosetta McClain Gardens

Rosetta McClain turned her 40 acre property overlooking the Scarborough Bluffs into a beautiful flower garden.  When she passed away in 1940 her husband wanted to commemorate her and in 1959 he gave the property to the city as a park.  Her house is in ruins but adds a certain charm to the park.

4. The Bloor Viaduct

The Bloor Viaduct opened 100 years ago and was built with provisions for a subway that wouldn’t be added for 50 years.  The section in the Rosedale Ravine has subway tunnels that were never used.

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3. Palermo – Ghost Towns of The GTA

On the northern edge of Oakville, Palermo has become a collection of empty houses waiting for restoration or demolition.  Redevelopment all around has left these historic buildings in a context that the three hundred residents that lived here in 1869 would find most peculiar.

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2. Rice Lake’s Sunken Railway

Built in 1853 the Cobourg and Peterborough Railway included a trestle across Rice Lake.  It was nearly 5 kilometres long but was damaged annually by winter ice until it was closed in 1866.  Much of the old railway still lies just below the surface of Rice Lake.

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1. Ringwood – Ghost Towns Of The GTA

Ringwood proved to be one of the most popular in our series of ghost towns in the GTA.  It has several abandoned houses as well as the school pictured below.

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For our greatest treks from the earlier blogs please see:

Greatest Treks

Greatest Treks 2

Google Maps links are contained within each story.

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Claireville Conservation Area

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Claireville Conservation Area is nestled between four major communities in the GTA.  A gore is a triangular piece of land and Gore Township is shaped like this.  It means the the conservation area is easily accessible from Toronto, Brampton, Mississauga and Vaughan.  There is free parking in a small lot off Highway 50 just north of Steeles Avenue.

As soon as we stepped out of the car we spotted a female white tailed deer in the field beyond.  A healthy looking deer she wasn’t too keen on a photo shoot and quickly disappeared.  There are sightings of a leucistic deer in the park.  We didn’t see any white deer on this expedition. but they are seen regularly by visitors to the park.

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Orchard Grass grows in the old farmstead.  They don’t grow from underground rhizomes but rather spread through a process known as tillering.  The subsequent stalks are produced off the original root, having been established from an original seed.  The flowers on these examples were in full bloom and producing a pollen that I am allergic to.

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There is a main trail through the park but we found that it was used by cars who drove quick enough to stir up a choking cloud of dust.  As usual the secondary trails were much better.

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Pearl Crescent butterflies have a wide range of habitat throughout North America.  It is quite common throughout the United States but in Ontario it is not as common as the Northern Crescent.  The main distinguishing feature between the male and female is the colour of the antenna knobs.  The males usually have black ones while the female seen below has white antenna knobs.

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Claireville Conservation Area features a tree caching trail.  Nineteen trees along the trail have been tagged so that hikers with smartphones can access information about the tree species in the park.  With my phone I only had to take a picture of this tag to find out that it is an American Beech.  The link provides considerable information about the tree including the fact that it could live for 300 years.  For those with an understanding of environmental concerns they also tell you that this tree is storing over 2000 kilograms of carbon.

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John and Rebecca Wiley emigrated to Upper Canada in 1836 and settles in Gore Township.  Their one hundred acre farm was called River-view Farm and was divided between their two sons when John passed away in 1864.  The two properties of Leonard and William are outlined in yellow on the 1877 county atlas below.  The Wiley family operated the farm until 1962 when it was sold to the Metropolitan Conservation Authority.  The bridge over the West Humber on Gorewood Drive was named after the family.

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Wooden bridges were built across the many streams and rivers in Ontario using timber from trees that were cut to clear the road.  These bridges were in constant need of repair and early in the 20th century concrete bridges became popular.  Concrete bowstring bridges were popular because they were able to use local materials and labour.  By the 1920’s there were about 65 concrete bowstring bridges in Canada, almost all of them in Ontario.  Only a few of these remain in place and even less of these remain open to vehicle traffic.  There are only two remaining in Brampton, the other one being on Creditview Road near Eldorado Park.

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The Wiley Bridge was named after the local family and built in 1924 from materials likely quarried on the property.  It was built on a bias, which means that it crosses the river on an angle.  The bridge was reinforced with three overhead concrete girders that join the two bowstring arches.  These run on opposing angles as can be seen in the preceding picture.  All this combines to give the bridge an odd appearance as if one side is longer than the other, or that it is wider at one end than the other.  The bridge has a continuous span deck and concrete hangers and parapet, all of which is still in very good condition.  The bridge was given heritage protection in 2013.

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Claireville Conservation area also includes the reservoir south of Steeles Avenue that was featured in the post Claireville.  With 848 acres to explore and a rare white deer to be seen, there is plenty of reasons to return to Claireville Conservation Area.

Google Maps Link: Claireville Conservation Area

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The Bloor Viaduct

Sunday June 10, 2018

When people think of the Bloor Street Viaduct they usually think of the bridge over the Don River and Don Valley Parkway.  Or, thoughts of Toronto’s suicide bridge may come to mind.  Few people realize that the viaduct is comprised of two bridges and a length of landfill.  These are known as the Don Section which spans the Don River and is 1620 feet long and 131 feet above the river.  The Rosedale Section is another bridge, this one over the Rosedale Ravine while the Bloor Section is landfill along the side of the Rosedale Ravine, connecting the original portion of Bloor Street with the Rosedale Section.

Bloor Viaduct

In 1899 when the fire map below was created, Bloor Street ended at Sherbourne Street and there was no easy access across the Rosedale Ravine and the Don River Valley.  A plan was put forth to build bridges across the two waterways and connect Bloor Street with Danforth Avenue on the east end.  The existing section of Bloor Street is coloured yellow.  The Bloor section of the Bloor Viaduct is coloured black while the Rosedale Section is coloured green with the eventual TTC bridge in red.

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By 1901 the city was expanding to the east but the only two bridges across the Don River were on Queen Street and Gerrard Street and they were unable to handle the increased traffic that expansion brought.  A proposal was put forward to survey the best route for connecting Bloor Street with Danforth.  Although the proposal would come up again in 1906 and 1907 it wasn’t until the area of Danforth was annexed to the city in 1909 that things got serious.

To investigate the viaduct in its entirety I had to do it in two portions, starting below the Don Section.  This was accessed from Riverale Park using a combination of The Lower Don Trail and the abandoned Canadian Pacific tracks that run from Half Mile Bridge.  The picture below shows the viaduct looking south.  The abandoned railway and the Don Valley Parkway run between piers A and B.  The Lower Don Trail runs between B and C.

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On January 1, 1910 the people voted No to a referendum but the need for a bridge didn’t go away.  City Council hired a firm of traffic consultants to see if a subway might be the answer to their traffic problems.  Their report of August 25th, 1910 suggested a Yonge Street, Queen Street and Bloor Street subway line.  They proposed a double deck bridge over both the Don Valley and Rosedale Ravine with a subway on the lower deck.  On January 1, 1913 the people approved construction on the viaduct on an altered route that required an angled bridge across Rosedale Ravine and landfill between Sherbourne and Parliament Streets.

Seen from the opposite direction the archive picture below shows construction of the Bloor Viaduct.  Pier C is in the foreground with the crane sitting above pier B.  A series of falseworks were constructed below the bridge to support the steel structure during assembly and later removed.  The steel girders of the bridge can be seen extending out from each pier to an eventual connection in the middle.  Each girder has three hinges, one on either and and one in the middle.

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Rolland Caldwell Harris was Commissioner of Public Works and he supported the idea of including the subway decks for eventual use.  The sod turning ceremony took place on January 16, 1915 with construction of the piers beginning immediately.  Four of the piers across the Don River section are sunk over 40 feet below the river to sit on the bedrock.  The subway line along Bloor Street didn’t open until February 26, 1966 but the lower deck saved the TTC millions of dollars in construction costs.  A subway train makes its way east under Don Section in the picture below.

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Having explored below the viaduct I wanted to examine the Bloor section and the Rosedale Section.  I was able to find parking on Bloor Street right near Sherbourne and so I set off to explore the section of landfill that now carries five lanes of traffic and two bicycle lanes.  The side of the embankment down to Rosedale Valley Road is steep in places but has developed a mature tree cover.

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During construction the viaduct was opened in three phases with the Bloor Section opening to traffic last.  The Rosedale Section being the shortest was completed and opened in October of 1917 and the Don Section was opened on October 18, 1918.  As the fill settled in the Bloor Section it continued to crack and it wasn’t until August 23, 1919 that this last section was opened.  A long portion of the embankment has been supported with concrete and provides an easy way down.

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The Rosedale section is 190 feet long and stands 90 feet above the ravine floor.  There is only one span in this section and the steel beams were assembled on the ground and then hoisted into position.  This eliminated the need for falsework under this bridge.

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When it came time to build the subway it was decided that the curve created by the Rosedale Bridge was too severe for safe operation of the trains and so the subway deck was never used.  From below the bridge you can still see the screened off openings for both the east and west lines.  The eastbound lane is marked in yellow on this picture of the west abutment.

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A new covered bridge for the subway was installed beside the Rosedale Bridge in 1966.

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After passing Castle Frank and its subway station you come to the longer Don Section of the viaduct.  The bridge had become the most popular place in Toronto to commit suicide and by 2003 nearly 500 people had jumped to their deaths.  The city approved a barrier in 1998 but delayed 5 years over funding issues.  Meanwhile, over 48 more people jumped creating  a hazard to traffic below.  The Luminous Veil was installed at a cost of $5.5 million dollars and has put an end to the unfortunate use of the bridge but suicide rates in the city remain unchanged .

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The view south from the bridge shows the DVP in the left corner and the Lower Don Trail beside it.  The river separates the trail from the Canadian Pacific tracks and the Bayview Avenue Extension.  The Luminous Veil does mess up the view to a large degree.

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The Bloor Street Viaduct was officially named Prince Edward Viaduct when it opened in 1918 although it retains the more popular Bloor Street Viaduct as a common name.  The abandoned railway under the viaduct belongs to Metrolinks and would make a good footpath between several downtown parks, even if only temporary.  We make the proposal in our post Half Mile Bridge Trail.

Google Maps Link: Bloor Viaduct

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Half Mile Bridge Trail

Sunday June 10, 2018

When the Canadian Pacific Railway was built through the GTA in the 1880’s it passed through Leaside and The Junction but didn’t run south to Union Station.  In 1888 they were given approval to build a spur line through the Don Valley and into downtown Toronto.  The line was in use until 2007 when it was closed and the right of way is currently owned by Metrolinx with an unspecified plan for potential future use.  Hiking the GTA proposes that this old rail line would make a perfect hiking trail connecting several parks that will soon be joined under the name of Wonscotonach Parklands.

Starting at Riverdale the trail would pass under the Bloor Viaduct and on toward the Half Mile Bridge.  The Don Valley Brickworks with a large park in the former quarry is located at the far end of the bridge.  This park links to The Belt Line Trail that runs through Mount Pleasant Cemetery and into midtown.  The trail then would pass under Bayview Avenue and on toward Crother’s Woods where it would end at the trail head behind the Loblaws.  A short side trail could be constructed on the right of way for the closed section of Pottery Road that would connect to Todmorden Mills, an 18th century paper mill.

Half Mile Trail

 

I parked on Carlton Street at Riverdale Park and took the stairs to the bottom of the hill.  There is access to the Lower Don Trail from the pedestrian bridge over the Don Valley Parkway.  Turning north you quickly come to a pedestrian bridge over the Don River and a small side trail that leads to the old Canadian Pacific Railway bridge over the Don River.

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There are plenty of places where the rail line has all but vanished into new growth in the past ten years.

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The old railway passes under the Bloor Viaduct, one of Toronto’s best known bridges.

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From the railway you will have the chance to watch TTC subway trains running below Bloor Street.  The eastbound train above is running on a subway deck that was built into the bridge 50 years before it would host the first commuters.

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A bumble bee was collecting pollen from some late apple blossoms and storing it in pouches along its rear legs.  The myth that bumble bees defy the laws of physics by being able to fly seems to date back to 1934 and a book called Le Vol Des Insects.  There’s obvious flaws in the calculations that claim the wing size is too small to lift the weight of the creature.  If this were true I saw dozens of physics defying bees just on this brief hike.

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Just north of the Bloor Viaduct is an old switch light for directing train traffic.  This light would inform the engineer of the presence of other trains on the same track.

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In recent times the half mile bridge over the DVP and Don River has been gated and posted No Trespassing.  There is also a help line number on the fence for those who have approached the bridge in a state of depression, thinking about ending it all.

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Someone has cut the fence to gain access to the bridge but several people have reported being stopped by police for being on the bridge and, luckily, they were only given warnings.  One of the main attractions is the spectacular view of the city from the bridge.  The Don Valley Brick Works (now Evergreen Brickworks) can be seen to the left of the tracks.  Beyond here, the line carries on toward Crother’s Woods.

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With a small investment for safety on the half mile bridge, a new rail trail could be established linking several existing parks and pathways which would help to integrate our network of trails in the city.

Google Maps Link: Half Mile Bridge

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The Great Trail – Caledon East

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The idea for a Trans Canada Trail was given birth at the time that the country was celebrating 125 years of Confederation.  The plan was to complete a trail that would link all the provinces and territories by 2017 when the country celebrated 150 years.  In a quarter century a trail was created that extends over 42,000 kilometres and is the longest multi-use trail network in the world.  The trail passes directly through the GTA and then curves back along the top again as it heads north.  The map below was snipped from the official map https://thegreattrail.ca/explore-the-map/

Great Trail GTA

A non-profit organization called The Trans Canada Trail was established to raise funds for the creation and maintenance of the trail.  All levels of government contributed to the project and donations were sought from corporations and individuals.  The province of Prince Edward Island was first to complete their section which is known as Confederation Trail.  To explore the original section of the trail we parked in the small lot on The Gore Road just north of Old Church Road.  After a short walk east toward Mill Lane and Humber Station Road we made our way west to Caledon East.

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Pavilions have been established along the route where donors are recognized.  The first pavilion to be created is the one in Caledon East.  An inscription program was put in place for individuals who donated to finance a metre of the trail.  An inscription would be added to the pavilion of your choice.  My family had a inscription placed in the Calgary pavilion, the city where our late brother was born.  The inscription program was officially terminated in 2012 when it was determined to be a drain on resources that was hindering the actual development of the trail.  If you donate today, the federal government will give 50 cents on the dollar as donation matching.

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The trail has been established using existing trails as a foundation.  The first section to be opened was the Caledon Trailway in 1995.  When the trail was connected from The Atlantic to The Pacific and Arctic Oceans in 2017 a new stone and pavilion were placed in Caledon East where The Trans Canada Trail was first opened.  The stone bears the new name of the trail.

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The trail has been connected from coast to coast but it is far from completed.  Large sections follow roadways which in some cases are temporary until green-ways can be developed.  In other areas the trail may always be stuck on the side of roadways, mostly rural but also including some busier sections.  Some portions, such as one in New Brunswick on the Saint John River cannot be hiked or cycled, but must be completed in a boat or canoe.  The trail is intended to promote six main activities: walking/hiking, cycling, paddling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.  Along the trail near Caledon East we found a single True Morel growing.  These fungus are edible and can be distinguished from similar inedible ones by the fact that they are hollow inside, from stem to tip of the mushroom.

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The section of trail that passes through Caledon East follows the route of the Hamilton and North Western Railway which was later amalgamated into the Canadian National Railway.  It was abandoned in the 1980’s and Caledon purchased the right of way in 1989.  In 1994 they started to convert it into a multi-use trail which opened the following year.  The trail along here continues to use the old rail bridges to cross streams and roadways.  This is the bridge over Mill Lane.

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Dragonflies rest with their wings open while damselflies rest with them folded on their backs.  There are about 5,000 species of dragonflies in the world and 130 of these have been identified in Ontario.  We saw half a dozen different ones along the way.  This male Chalk Fronted Corporal was one of several that were soaking up the heat on the trail.  They tend to follow humans as they hike because they like to eat the mosquitoes and biting flies that are attracted to people.  For this reason it is always nice to see these insects.

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We found a patch of gooseberries growing along the trail.  They are not native to North America but have become naturalized, likely from garden escapees.  The fruit is cultivated and is an excellent source of vitamin C.  It can be eaten as is, cooked into pies or preserved in jams.  It is also used to flavour wines, sodas and teas.

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The Humber Valley Heritage Trail along with The Bruce Trail are accessible from the Great Trail near Caledon East.  In other places The Great Trail shares pathway with The Lakefront Trail and The Pan Am Trail.  The pedestrian bridge crossing the mouth of Highland Creek is one example of a shared trail.

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Based on the amount of fur in this scat it appears that someone is not doing the stoop and scoop after their coyote.

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Along the trail we saw several chipmunks and squirrels as well as this rabbit.  The hunting seems to be pretty good for the local coyote population.

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We’ve visited several sections of The Great Trail along the Waterfront Trail as well as on The Caledon Trailway.  At 42,000 kilometres in length, this is one trail that few will be able to complete end-to-end.

Google Maps Link: Caledon East

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