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.
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.
There are plenty of places where the rail line has all but vanished into new growth in the past ten years.
The old railway passes under the Bloor Viaduct, one of Toronto’s best known bridges.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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