Back Tracks – 5 Years of Trails

April 20, 2019

Hiking the GTA photographed their initial blog on April 20, 2014.  In the five years that have passed since then we’ve released over 350 stories which include over 4,000 pictures.  We’ve had the opportunity to explore most of the Credit, Humber and Don Rivers as well as the Lakefront Trail and large sections of the Bruce Trail.  We’ve explored most of the parks and ravines in the area.  Our posts explore the areas as they exist today and by looking at the local history we discover how they came to be this way.  Many people have gone exploring after reading about an area in their neighbourhood and we’ve had some amazing feedback.  Thank you for all the encouraging comments, they mean a lot to us.

Here, then are the top twenty stories from our first five years, as selected by readers.  Click on the title of each story to get to the original post for more details about each location, including Google Maps links.  Pick a couple that look interesting and plan your summer trips in advance.

20) Barber Paper Mills – Georgetown

One of the most picturesque sets of mill ruins in the GTA is located on The Credit River in Georgetown.  Parts of the building date back to 1820 and the founding of the town.

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19) Graydon Hall

One of Toronto’s rich elite built this estate complete with terraced gardens and cascading fountains.  The old pump house still remains near the Don River.

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18) Adamson Estate

This estate was built in 1920 on the lake shore in Mississauga.  It is linked with the Cawthra Estate because it was a wedding gift for their daughter Mabel.

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17) The Vandalized Memorial

This little park contained a memorial to Taras Chevchenko but it was vandalized many times and now is slated to be replaced with a subdivision.  Check it out before it is gone forever.

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16) The Devil’s Punch Bowl

The Devil’s Punchbowl is one of the most interesting waterfalls in the GTHA.  This post got Hiking the GTA mentioned on Wikipedia for the detailed description of the geological strata revealed here.

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15) The Devil’s Well

This huge glacial pothole is the last of a series that have collapsed.  This one can be entered through a small crack at the bottom.

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14) Camp Calydor – German POW Camp

Located in Gravenhurst, this is one of the POW camps used by the Allies during World War Two to house German prisoners.

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13) The Longhouse People Of Crawford Lake

Crawford Lake is meromictic, which means that the bottom is never disturbed.  Corn pollen in core samples taken from the bottom of the lake showed an agricultural society was living here 500 years ago.  This led to the discovery of thousands of artifacts and a village of longhouses.

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12) Mimico Branch Asylum

When Mimico Branch Asylum opened in 1889 it was thought that mental patients would benefit from the cottage style atmosphere rather than the hospital nature of the asylum at 999 Queen Street in Toronto.  It closed in 1979 and sat empty until recently being re-purposed as a campus for Humber College.

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11) Raymore Drive

Raymore Drive was the site of a small community of houses until Hurricane Hazel destroyed it, killing many residents.

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10) Merritton Tunnel (Blue Ghost Tunnel)

This railway tunnel under the Third Welland Canal was replaced with a swing bridge.  The abandoned tunnel has been bricked closed on one end but people still go inside, claiming to see a blue ghost in the dark.

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9) Toronto’s Abandoned Roads

A city is living entity and as such is always evolving, changing and growing.  Most often roads are widened and extended but sometimes they are cut off and abandoned.  This post looks at a number of those closed roads in Toronto.

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8) Palermo – Ghost Towns of the GTA

The expansion of Oakville threatens the remains of this former community.  Like many of Ontario’s early towns, this one has become a sign on the road and a bunch of abandoned houses waiting for demolition.

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7) Joshua Creek

The Harding House was built in 1938 near the mouth of Joshua Creek and must have been quite the estate when it was more isolated.

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6) Bond Lake

Bond Lake is the site of  a former railway amusement park.  The Toronto & York Radial Railway built a transformer station beside the lake and then turned the area into a money making tourist trap.  Only scattered remains can be found around the lake.

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5) Lotten – Cawthra Estate

The Cawthra Estate was built on lot ten and their driveway is now Cawthra Road.  The house was built in 1926 and sits in a wood lot that is full of clues to the former estate.

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4) Ringwood – Ghost Towns of the GTA

We have published an ongoing series of Ghost Towns of the GTA which has proven quite popular.  Ringwood has been the most successful of these stories, perhaps because it has so many buildings remaining.

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3) The Gap

This hole in the side of the escarpment can be seen from the 401 near Milton.  It is the opening cut by an aggregate company in the 1960’s.  The Bruce Trail crosses the bridge over the gap.

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2) Rice Lake’s Sunken Railway

In the 1860’s this railway crossed Rice Lake on an extensive trestle.  When it was abandoned the rail line was left just below the surface of the water. It has been the ruin of many a propeller on an unwary boat.

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1) Newmarket Ghost Canal

Our all time most popular post features the abandoned remains of one of the GTA’s biggest engineering projects of the early 20th century.  New evidence suggests that this attempt to link Newmarket with Lake Simcoe could have been successful.

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We’re looking forward to the next five years of exploring the GTA and discovering what is out there to be found.

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Elora Cataract Trail – East End

Saturday, April 6, 2019

The weekend seemed like a perfect one to go for an extended hike using two cars.  We chose to complete about a third of the Elora Cataract Trail running between Hillsburgh and Cataract, a distance of about 18 kilometres.  The east end of the trail can be found at Mississauga Road although the former right of way continues east from there.  Based on the trail map we determined that we should leave one car at The Forks Of The Credit Provincial Park.  The roadway into the park is in horrible shape and the pot-holes will threaten to rip the front end out of your car.  Having braved the lane way you will find that $14.50 is the full day parking fee.

The Credit Valley Railway was built in 1879 to connect Toronto with Orangeville.  A branch line was also built between Cataract and Elora but it was only operated under the original name for four years before it became part of the Ontario & Quebec Railway.  In 1884 it was leased to the Canadian Pacific Railway where it became known as the Elora Subdivision.  A hundred years later in 1988 it ceased to operate and the rails were removed. It only sat abandoned for five years before it was purchased by the Grand River and Credit Valley Conservation Authorities.  They have developed 47 kilometres of the right of way into the Elora Cataract Trailway.  We parked the second car for free at the trail head on Station Road in Hillsburgh, the site of the former railway station in town.  The Hillsburgh Pond was originally created to serve the two grist mills in town.  The Caledon Mountain Trout Club bought the pond in 1902 and sold it to the Guelph Fishing Club in 1946.  Today there is an ongoing debate about the future of the pond and dam as restoration is required and the pond may be drained instead.  This old green shed, like the boathouse in front of it is collapsing into the pond.

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The property beside the train station used to have a set of ramps for loading livestock onto rail.  A wind mill can be seen in the back of the old Awrey house which has recently been expanded to become the new library.

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Although we had chosen a stretch of trail that ran for 17.5 kilometres it was all pretty level as long as we were following the railway right of way.  Only later when we got back to the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park and found an extensive set of stairs to climb did we realize that starting at Cataract would have allowed us to descend those stairs instead of climbing them at the end of the hike.  The trail still had snow and ice on it where the hard packed trail was sheltered from a lot of direct sunlight.

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The red squirrel uses his tail for balance and to control his jumping.  When they are upset or feel threatened they also use it for communication.  When it gets cold and they need a blanket to snuggle up with they use their tails for this too.

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After leaving Hillsburgh the trail crosses a couple of side roads before coming to the town of Erin.  The railway ran along the northern edge of town where the rail station used to stand.  At Shaws Creek Road you come to the old Pinkney Farmhouse which was built in 1886.  Fifteen acres of the Pinkney property was used for a large gravel pit and the current owners are Lafarge Canada who might be interested in restoring the house in exchange for increased quarry rights.  The Pinkney barn was in poor shape and was demolished last year.

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The trees are growing back in so that in some places they may offer a little shade on the summer.  When this was a active steam railway the trees would have been kept trimmed back for the full property width to help discourage fires caused by errant sparks.

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The trail ends at Cataract Road but we were still several kilometres from the car.  Based on the signs at Mississauga Road you could park there and walk the short section to the end of the trail.  This would be a lot shorter and considerably cheaper as well.

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The Credit Valley Railway line continued east to connect with the Orangeville line.  Where it is not used as the trailway it isn’t maintained or improved but it is still quite passable.

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Two of our previous posts, Forks of the Credit Provincial Park and Cataract Electric Company, tell the history of the mills in the park.

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A few signs of the old railway still remain including old sleeper ties thrown along the sides of the trail to rot.  For long sections of the trail some of these ties have been used for fence posts by the local farmers.  Inside the Forks of the Credit Provincial Park an old telegraph pole still marks a bygone era.

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Coltsfoot looks similar to a dandelion but has no leaves at the time of the flowers.  Once the flowers have faded the leaves will come out for the summer.

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Having covered about one third of the Elora Cataract Trailway we intend to return a couple more times to complete the trail in its entirety.

Google Maps Link: Cataract

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The Hilarious House of Frightenstien

Sunday, March 31, 2019

A fresh fall of snow overnight left us with white trees which are always beautiful, even as we look forward to getting some warm weather.  One of the great places to view something like this is the Doris McCarthy Trail in Scarborough.  This trail follows Gates Gully down the side of the Scarborough Bluffs and gives you access to the lake.  Just to the west of here a cottage is slowly slipping over the edge and it was time to have a look and see what was left of it.  I parked on Ravine Drive just off of Kingston Road and made way down the side of what was once Doris McCarthy’s property.

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The ravine, like the Leslie Street Spit,  is a migratory route for over 100 species of birds but today there were only cardinals and a few robins.

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At the bottom of the gully is a sculpture designed to look like the rib cage of a fish or canoe.  Perhaps it looks more like eye lashes from this angle.

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The water in Lake Ontario was very calm as you look toward the east and the sunken wreckage of The Alexandria.

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Belamy Ravine Creek drops 90 metres as it follows Gates Gully to the lake below.  In several places blocks of armour stone have been added to the creek bed to slow down erosion.  The Doris McCarthy Trail runs along the lake in both directions.  We turned to the west and crossed the creek and carried on along the beach.  The trail through here was very muddy and partially under water that was running off the bluffs in a few places.  I was glad for my winter boots, now serving as my mud boots.

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Keep an eye on the top of the bluffs as you walk along.  Not only might you see some wildlife but you may also notice man made objects that are in the process of being sucked over the edge as the sand is carried away from underneath them.  Here a wall is being broken away, section by section.

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On a previous visit only the top portion of this pipe stood out of the sand.  Since that time four more sections of corrugated steel pipe have been exposed.  I’m interested to see what is in there.

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If you grew up in Ontario in the 1970’s you likely remember The Hilarious House Of Frightenstein.  The comedy show was aimed at children and featured short educational skits as well as comedy.  All 130 episodes were filmed at CHCH in Hamilton in 1971.  Toronto comedian Billy Van won the lead part as Count Frightenstein.  He also played eight other recurring characters and several minor ones.

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Billy Van owned a cottage on lakefront property on the former McCowan estate which looked out from on top of the Scarborough Bluffs.  At one time this blue cottage sat a good distance back from the edge of the bluffs but by 2008 it was starting to fall over.  Most of the cottage has collapsed now and wood and doors fill a small ravine below the house.  Inside, the concrete blocks in the basement are exposed and have been cracked in several places.  Billy Van’s cottage is one of the last original homes along this stretch of the bluffs.  This is The (not so) Hilarious House Of Frightenstein.

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Several times I heard the rumble of the sand as additional parts of the bluffs broke away in the ongoing erosion.  Ground water seeps out of the sand and flows across the beach carrying more of it away and destabilizing the rest.  In the picture below, a fresh slide has covered over last the fresh snow from last night.  A previous blog looked at the effects of weather and water on the bluffs and shoreline at the Cathedral Bluffs.

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The full magnitude of the Scarborough Bluffs is a wonder to behold at any time of the year.  With the fresh snow on the trees above and the slopes below it was well worth the kilometre hike down the hill and back.  Geologists  around the globe recognize them as one of the most valuable records of glacial sedimentation available.  More of the geology of the Bluffs can be found in our story Sand Castles.

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The fourteen kilometre stretch of bluffs will continue to be interesting for generations to come because of the change it represents and the constant reminder that we really don’t control everything.  Places where the shoreline has been hardened with armour stone or construction rubble only serve to separate the lake from the bluffs.  They continue to recede at their own pace anyway.

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When we last visited this cottage in May 2016 for our post Gates Gully the walls were still standing at the back of the house.  Trevor Harris owned the cottage in 2002 at which time he was able to drive a lawn mover in front of it however the city decided that demolition was unsafe and made Harris fence the area off and post it.  Later that year he lost 10 feet of property in a single drop and it looks like one more event like that and the whole thing will be gone.

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The escarpment is ever changing, even in places like this where there is a fairly wide beach and the water never impacts the base of the bluffs.  However, the Scarborough Bluffs were eroding for thousands of years before Elizabeth Simcoe named them on August 4, 1793.

Google Maps Link: Gates Gully

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Old Albion Road

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Humber Recreational Trail is pretty much continuous through Toronto from Lake Ontario to Steeles Avenue.  It has a short section on the road where a golf course restricts passing.  We chose to explore a section north of the 401 so we could look for the remains of Old Albion Road.  Free parking is available at Pine Point Park at the end of Hadrian Drive.

Staying close to the river, we were treated to several Mergansers who were playing in the slushy waters.  The males were attempting to impress a group of seemingly bored females.  In breeding season the male Merganser gets a glossy green tinge.  Later in the summer and fall both he and the females will be mostly a dull grey.  The diet is mostly fish and so their bills have serrations to help with holding onto their slippery prey.  For this reason they are also sometimes known as “sawbills”.

 

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Male whitetail deer rapidly grow their antlers for three or four months during the summer when their testosterone levels are high.  Following the rutting season the testosterone levels drop quickly which activates specialized cells called osteoclasts at the point of connection of the antlers.  These cells eat away at the pedicle, where the antlers grow, until the connection becomes so weak the antlers are simply shed to make way for new ones.  Depending on the age and health of the animal as well as their local climate they shed their antlers between January and April.  This young buck has clearly visible pedicles, just waiting for new antlers to begin to grow.

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Albion Road was originally a private road built for a French teacher named Jean du Petit Pont de la Haye and ran to his estate at Indian Line and Steeles Avenue.  The settlement he founded there was named Claireville after his daughter Claire.    In 1846 the road was upgraded from Musson’s Bridge at the Humber River all the way to Bolton by The Weston Plank Road Company.  At this time the road was named Claireville Road and there was a toll booth in Claireville to help pay for maintenance of the road.  It is believed that the white house that can be seen from Steeles Avenue is the old toll house.  Claireville Road is coloured brown in the 1877 County Atlas image below.

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Early bridges were built of wood and seldom lasted more than 20 years.  Flooding would often destroy them even earlier than that.  By the time of the County Atlas, Claireville Road was likely on its second bridge across the Humber.  In 1905 the bridge was again in need of replacement and Octavius Laing Hicks was commissioned to build the new one.  The bridge was his first and also the first all-riveted steel bridge to have a permanent deck.  Hicks built it on cut stone abutments instead of concrete that had started to become popular in construction at the time.  As his next bridge was a concrete bow bridge it is clear that Octavius was familiar with concrete as a bridge building material.  This suggests that he built his bridge on the abutments from the previous one.  The bridge became known as Musson’s Bridge because the family owned several pieces of property on the Etobicoke side of the river.

When the remnants of Hurricane Hazel swept down on the city on October 15, 1954 they destroyed or severely damaged 40 bridges.  Musson’s bridge had already been replaced with the new alignment of Albion Road and was no longer as critical to transportation as it had once been.  The bridge wasn’t badly damaged and remained on site until it was removed in 1962.

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The bridge abutments on the west side of the river were removed in 1963 but the ones on the east side remain, and we can see them but for the moment there’s still an icy river between us.

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We followed the edge of the Humber Valley Golf Course until the river doubled back on itself leaving us to also turn back.  Just as we were about to do so, we caught sight of a coyote who saw us at about the same time.  Unfortunately, he didn’t hang around to get his picture taken.  Soon, movement in the trees across the river alerted us to the presence of at least two more deer.  These two were likely females who will be giving birth to their fawns in late Spring.  The deer were keeping the swiftly flowing river between them and the coyote.

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We retraced our steps to a pedestrian bridge we had seen earlier in Louise Russo Park and made our way back to the abutment on the east side of the river.  The steel beam is still in place that anchored the bridge to the abutment, however it may have been added by Octavius in place of a previous wooden span.

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One thing that never changes is human interest in seeing the damage that storms can cause.  Ice, wind or water can all inflict a lot of damage and this 1954 picture from the Toronto Public Library shows us the curious ones out to see the damage from the hurricane.  This view is from the east side looking toward Musson’s bridge and the river.

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The street view today is much different with the road closed off and the bridge missing.  The embankment on the left of the picture has grown over with trees and there is a park on the right side.  The road crossed the river and then angled north-west  right where the apartment is today.  The small section of Albion Road that ran between Weston Road and the river still provides access to a few houses under the name Norris Place.

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It was nice to see so many birds this weekend along with the other wildlife.  It’s a certain sign of warmer days ahead.

Google Maps Link: Pine Point Park

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Dofasco 2000 Trail

Saturday, March 16, 2019

When we previously visited The Devil’s Punchbowl we had noted the Dofasco 2000 trail that runs east from the falls.  With all the rain and melting snow it seemed like a good time to revisit the falls and hike a section of the Dofasco 2000 Trail.

For parking you have several options.  The Devil’s Punchbowl Conservation Area has parking for $5.00.  Alternately, there is parking for at least a couple of cars where the Dofasco 2000 Trail crosses each of the four roads east.  Depending on the length of walk you desire you can continue on Ridge Road as far as Tapleytown Road.  Second Road East has the most parking places.  We decided to walk the full four side roads to the Punchbowl and back.

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This was our final hike of winter and the day wanted to prove that the season wasn’t over yet.  The trail was hard packed with ice in a few places and open in others but the fresh snow made the walking challenging.  The trail follows an unopened road allowance and was pretty much ours alone with the exception of a couple of dog walkers.  While we’re on the subject of dog walkers, do people really think that dog poo will just melt away with the snow?  This trail was marked with several months of deposits as well as dozens of Tims cups.  Certainly one of the messier trails we have visited in recent times.

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An old building stands in the woods along the side of the trail made out of prefabricated concrete blocks that were designed to look like cut stone.  There is a date of 1943 etched into the concrete in the doorway and inside it appears to have been used to house a generator.  More recently it housed someone who slept in one corner and kept a small fire in the other.

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Sections of the forest have been tapped for maple syrup production and both new and old equipment is strung through the trees.  Nature has a way of adapting and has started to grow around this old metal sign on this tree.  We saw plenty of evidence of last year’s fungi which suggests a healthy forest as this is the natural way of breaking down the wood as it begins to decompose.

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As we continued along we were treated to patches of blue sky and sunshine.  Spring is just around the corner and the weather was attempting to give us a preview of the new while reminding us of the old season.

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Half a dozen old tires are rotting on the roadside with rusted rims and degrading rubber.  The rubber will take between 50 and 80 years to disappear but the metal rims are destined to be there for up to 200 years.

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The path runs through a vineyard with rows of grape vines stretched out on either side of the trail.  Ridge Road is home to several wineries as is the entire southern portion of the Niagara Escarpment.  There are an average of 205 frost free days per year in the region allowing production of 71,000 9-litre cases of wine annually.

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A small bridge carries you across Stoney Creek.  This is only a short distance above the waterfalls at The Devil’s Punch Bowl and the high water levels in the creek suggest that the falls might have a good flow of water going over.

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The Devil’s Punch Powl Conservation Area provides the most scenic point on the trail.  Recent weather conditions suggested that the water flow might be near the peak level.  It turned out that there was quite a bit more water plus a bonus ice formation in the bottom of the cone.  The falls are interesting from a geological point of view because they expose all the layers that make up the Niagara Escarpment.  The geology of the falls along with plenty of other pictures, including the lower falls, can be found in our story The Devil’s Punch Bowl.

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Given the 37 metre height of the falls, the ice cone at the bottom has to be about 20 metres tall.  This is truly spectacular to behold but is limited to late winter and early spring viewing, depending on the type of winter season that we get.

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The Dofasco 2000 Trail continues east of the fourth road on pavement for one concession before entering a closed road allowance again for another five side roads.  It passes through the Vinemount South Swamp on a 1.7 kilometre boardwalk that likely needs to be explored before or after mosquito season.

Google Maps Link: Dofasco 2000 Trail

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Trinity Bellwoods Park

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Trinity Bellwoods Park is one of the busiest in the city with thousands of visitors on a sunny summer day.  It also has an interesting history as the home of Trinity College from 1852 until 1925.  Not much remains today to mark the history of the site except the old gates on Queen Street.  They can be seen in the cover photo.

Trinity College was founded in 1851 by Bishop John Strachan to be closely aligned with the Church of England.  Strachan had made a name for himself as the civil leader of York when the British abandoned the town following the Battle of York in the war of 1812.  The gates bear his name and the Roman numerals MDCCCLI for 1851.

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The building was Gothic Revival and operated from 1852 until the school relocated with the University of Toronto in 1925.  The buildings then became city property and were demolished in the early 1950’s.  The archive picture below shows the college in the early days.

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Today there are walking paths among the many mature trees in the park.  There are tennis courts, children’s play areas and an outdoor skating rink.  There’s also summer picnic areas and lots of off leash areas for dogs to play in.

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A paved trail leads down into the lower bowl where Garrison Creek used to flow.

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Female students began to attend Trinity College in 1884.  By 1888 the female student population was still only 2 but it was decided they needed a dedicated building.  Euclid Avenue was the first location for the new facility but after moving a few times it settled in 1903 into a new building on campus.  This building has had several uses since 1925 including the current role as John Gibson House.  It is the only remaining building from the Trinity College campus.

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Although St. Hildas opened for students in 1903 the cornerstone shows that construction began in 1899.


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From behind St. Hildas College you can see the rise of land that marks the sight of a buried bridge.  This artificial hill has become a popular tobogganing slope.

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The Crawford Street Bridge was built in 1915 to replace the 1884 wooden bridge that previously crossed Garrison Creek.  The triple span arch bridge was influenced by designs of R. C. Harris, Public Works Commissioner.  It bears a lot of resemblance to the Bloor Viaduct, a contemporary Harris design.  This archive photo is from 1915.

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By the 1880’s the city was expanding westward and Garrison Creek was already badly polluted.  A solution was put forth to bury the creek in a sewer pipe.  This got approved and Garrison Creek disappeared from the surface in 1884 when the previous bridge was installed.  In the 1960’s the city was digging the Bloor subway line and looking for places to dump the soil they were removing.  It was decided to fill in the ravine on either side of the Crawford Street Bridge saving upcoming maintenance costs on the bridge.  Maintenance work in 2004 has identified the former course of the creek as well as illustrating the types of fish that used to swim through here.  These included Pumpkinseed, Brown Bullhead, White Sucker, Bowfin and Northern Pike.

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North of Trinity Bellwoods Park at Harbord Street there is a second buried bridge on on the former watercourse of Garrison Creek.  The Toronto Archive photo below shows the bridge nearing completion in 1910.

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This bridge was likewise buried with subway diggings except that in this case they left the railing on the north side.

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Looking down into Garrison Creek ravine you can get a feeling for the way things used to be.  The people in the dog park are standing above the buried creek where it runs through the old sewer pipes.

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It really is too bad that the city of the 1950’s didn’t put more emphasis on heritage because we might still have the grand old building of Trinity College.  Perhaps it could have been turned into the community centre instead of building a new one.

Google Maps Link: Trinity Bellwoods Park

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Betty Sutherland Trail

Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Betty Sutherland Trail runs for 1.83 kilometres from Leslie Street and Sheppard Avenue to Duncan Mills Road and Don Mills Road.  The park is named after a long time city councilor who was active in supporting Toronto’s recreational areas and trails.  She was also a member of Toronto Region Conservation Authority.  The park runs through an area known as Henry Farm.  The farm was settled in 1806 by Henry Mulholland and was later owned by George Stewart Henry who was the 10th Premier of Ontario.  To explore the trail we parked near the corner of Duncan Mills Road.  The formal trail runs on the west side of the river at this point but we chose the less traveled east side of the river.

The cover photo shows one of the stone buildings associated with Duncan Mills which used to operate at this site.  In 1935 a pump house was built to bring water from the river to Graydon Hall at the top of the ravine.  This water flowed through terraced gardens as it returned to the river.  These two old buildings greet you as you enter the trail and their story can be read in more detail in our story Graydon Hall.

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The East Don River runs along side of the trail.  The river was frozen over in many places but still had open water where the ice hadn’t formed.

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The trail passes under the 401 where the steel girders are marked Bridge & Tank.  This company has its roots in Hamilton in 1872 as the Hamilton Tool Works.  It went under several names until the Second World War when it began manufacturing tanks for the military.  In 1954 they became the Bridge and Tank company and continued operations until 1984.

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A series of side trails form a loop extending the trail and providing access to a couple of ravines

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The Betty Sutherland Trail is well known to bird watchers as a place to see a multitude of species.  This late in the winter there are relatively few but that is about to change very soon.  We saw several cardinals standing pretty in the trees and singing to their females.

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On the west side of the river stands the North York General Hospital.   The idea for this hospital began in 1960 when a group of local citizens met to explore the possibility of building a 70-bed community hospital.  On March 15, 1968 the new hospital was dedicated by the Premier of Ontario.  The present building includes a major expansion that was completed in 2003.

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The trail ends at Sheppard and Leslie which was the former community of Oriole.  We crossed the road to have another look at the old dam that marks the site.  Click on the link to read the story of Oriole – Ghost Towns of the GTA.

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The trail is wide and had three clear paths running along it.  Ideally the walkers would take the middle path while skiers would go single file in the two outside lanes.  If the outside paths were once ski trails they have been over-run with footprints of pedestrians.  With a little luck pedestrians will be sharing the path with cyclists instead of skiers in the next couple of weeks.

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Pine Grosbeaks are normally a northern bird and are uncommon in Southern Ontario and we were lucky to see this female in the top of a tree along the trail.  Pine Grosbeaks move south in the winter looking for food at which time they will feed on buds in maple trees.  They are a member of the finch family but are one of the larger, plumper species.

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The Betty Sutherland Trail is just part of the extensive trails that follow the East Don River.  At this time they are not continuous but each section is well worth the visit.

Google Maps Link: Betty Sutherland Trail

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