Sat. Jan. 31, 2015
It was -11 feeling like -12 which seemed like a nice temperature considering that the weatherman had been calling for -18 with a wind chill of -30. It started off cloudy but the sun came out a little later on. We parked in the parking lot off of Martin Grove at West Deane Park.
Andrew and Martha Coulter emigrated to Etobicoke from Ireland in 1822 along with the first two of nine children. They bought 100 acres of land which lay between highway 27 and Martin Grove Road, halfway between Rathburn and Eglinton in an area known as Richview. Over the next few years they acquired an additional 150 acres. The Coulter’s operated the farm until the 1880’s and in 1939 the land was purchased by construction magnate Percy Law. He kept race horses here until he sold it for development in 1956.
We crossed Mimico Creek and headed uphill on the south side of the bridge. At the top of the hill we found a small playground where there was a coyote sitting in the distance in the snow. Coyote are related to the grey wolf and have become quite adept at living in close proximity to humans in urban environments.
We started to sneak up on what we believe was a female but when she saw us she ran into the trees. One advantage of fresh snow is the ability to follow animal tracks and we soon found where she had gone. Following her we found ourselves in the middle of her hunting ground. The coyote started circling us at a distance and we were soon able to capture the short video below and the picture in the cover photo.
Tracking the coyote we found that the footprints were smaller than some we had seen previously suggesting that perhaps the animal was not fully grown.
We came across the remnants of a Christmas party hanging in the trees.
The sun came out at one point and lit up the valley in front of us. For scale, the large tree laying in the bottom of the ravine once stood at the base of the hill but would not have been tall enough for the canopy to reach the upper rim.
We followed the west side of Mimico Creek north and soon came to an area full of winter birds. A cardinal was singing in the trees above us and we soon spotted him. Cardinals eat insects in the summer, raising their young almost exclusively on them. In the winter cardinals will live off of seeds and will also eat the bark of elm trees. There were several pairs of doves sitting in the trees. Doves are one of 11 animals that mate for life, along with termites and Schistosoma mansoni worms. Wolves, which are related to Coyotes, also mate for life. This is perhaps the reason that doves come in pairs in the Twelve Days of Christmas.
There was a flock of a dozen or more woodpeckers moving through. There were both the larger Hairy, pictured below, and the smaller Downey flocking together. These two birds are not actually birds of a feather as they are unrelated in spite of their nearly exact same marking and appearance.
Andew Coulter built a saw mill on Mimico Creek and operated a farm on his property. After his death in 1857 the farm was run by his 4 sons. Andrew Coulter and his sons are buried in the Richview Methodist Cemetery which sits in the very middle of the highway 401 and 427 interchange. By 1852 Andrew had built an 11 room 5 bay Georgian style farmhouse on the property. The Coulter’s house was built of red brick with yellow quoins and lintels. Percy Law modified this brick farm house to create a Kentucky colonial revival style home by adding white clapboard siding and a two story classical portico with four Corinthian columns. He also built himself a horse ranch complete with stables and a carriage house. The picture below shows the Coulter’s 1852 house as it appeared in 1929.
The house remains today at 59 Beaver Bend Crescent but the white siding has been replaced with yellow aluminum. The Law family retained the house and 11 acres surrounding it until it was sold for development in 1981. The original patterned brick house is still hiding inside the veneer that has been added to the outside over the years. I think I’d strip it all off.
Law built a house for his farm manager which stands at 18 Deanewood Crescent. It is conspicuous among the surrounding homes as it faces sideways to the rest of them. It also sports a tv antena indicating that it was constructed prior to the arrival of cable in the neighbourhood. In Sept. 1952 CBLT, the Toronto CBC station began experimenting with cable broadcasts in the city. By the time this part of the the farm was sold for development in 1981 cable would have been installed in the new built homes on the street.
The Coulter’s oldest son, Robert built his house around the same time as his father’s. It still shows it’s yellow brick quoins and lintels. The house originally faced east and Martin Grove Road, overlooking what is now Glen Agar Park. The board and batten addition that now serves as a front entrance and garage would have been a later addition.
This was our first visit to this section of Mimico Creek but there is lots of unexplored area here for future visits both in the winter and after the snow has melted.