Monthly Archives: August 2019

Kerncliff Park

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Nelson Quarry operated a limestone quarry on Kerns Road in Burlington until 1981.  After it closed it became the site of an ongoing rehabilitation program.  The city of Burlington purchased the old quarry with the intention of creating their first environmental park which eventually opened in 2005.  We decided to check it out and found that there is free parking on both sides of Kerns Road.  The lot on the south side of the road has an interesting concrete artifact near where we parked.  This was likely associated with the quarry across the road.


The old quarry covers about 40 acres and is now the site of a provincially significant area of natural and scientific interest.  The quarry exposes a transitional layer between the dolomite of the Lockport Formation and the limestone of the Amabel Formation.


The Ian Reid Side Trail is 1.4 kilometres long and allows people to traverse the wetlands on an elevated boardwalk.  It is named after a long time supporter of the Bruce Trail and a former Bruce Trail Association president.


The boardwalk has a small observation platform in the middle of the wetlands.  Bullrushes have grown tall enough that it is hard to see the frogs and other wildlife that have made the former quarry home.


The floor of the old quarry is remarkably flat considering it was created by blasting the limestone off the surface.


Guard rails have been added along the top of the rock face to protect people who are hiking on the Bruce Trail which runs along the crest.  One of the characteristics of the quarry that made extraction attractive at this site is the relatively thin layer of soil on top of the limestone.  This layer is known as overburden and any place where it is more than two metres thick it becomes impractical to remove it.  There’s always are other places where the limestone is closer to the surface.


The rock face of the quarry looks as if they just packed up and left.  There is a large amount of broken rock at the base of the cliff as if they blasted a bunch of rock and processed what they could.  Then, rather than working until they ran out of available rock, they just punched out at 5:00 and never came back.


In the spring and summer the male goldfinch has bright yellow plumage.  The colour is attributed to carotenoids in their diet.  They typically live from 3 to 6 years in the wild but the record has been observed at 11 years.


From the park you get views into Burlington and out to Lake Ontario in the distance.


Black walnut trees are known for their dark hardwood that is perfect for making high quality wood furniture.  The nuts can be harvested in late September or early October and should be collected from the tree before they fall.  If you can leave an impression on the shell with your finger the nut is ripe.


Portions of the trail are accessible for those who use some form of mobility assistance.


Returning to the car we had another look at the concrete foundations with the tree growing out of the top of them.


The Bruce Trail runs along the top of the cliff face and we had previously explored there in our post Bruce Trail – Kerns Road to Guelph Line.

Google Maps Link: Kerncliff Park

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Canary Restaurant

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Of all the buildings that used to make up the area of Cherry and Front Streets there are but two remaining.  The building on the south east corner has served under many names over the years while across the street the CN Railway Police Building has kept it company since 1923.

The need for a new school in the rapidly expanding St. Lawrence Ward was addressed when the Toronto Board of Education decided to erect a new brick school building on the corner of Palace (now Front) and Cherry Streets.  One of the considerations for the new school was that it should have separate entrances for boys and girls and they should not be in the same classroom.  The school had room for 80-90 boys and as many girls and the school board had plans to expand if the community continued to grow.  The picture below shows the boys entrance which has been painted green over the years.


The area around the school started to transform with the arrival of the railways and the industry that they attracted.  Slowly the population dwindled until the school was forced to close in 1887 and the students were transferred to Sackville Street School.  The original school building is the oldest surviving one built by the Toronto School Board and it has some very interesting architecture.


The south side of the building had the girls entrance and reveals the change in architecture styles between the original two story school and the later third floor addition.


Robert Irvine bought the building from the school board and converted it into a 40 room hotel.  In 1890 the building was expanded with a new main entrance on the corner of Cherry and Front Streets.


The hotel operated under several owners who gave it different names.  Originally it was Irvine House but was soon changed to Cherry Street Hotel.  In 1904 it was re-branded as the Eastern Star Hotel but by 1910 this too had failed and was closed.


The building stood empty from 1910 until 1922 when it was bought and converted into a manufacturing facility.  It was around this time that the third, and largest, expansion was carried out.  The Thomas Davidson Manufacturing Company used the building to produce enamel ware.  The addition was used for warehousing and later rented to additional manufacturing companies including General Steel Ware.  If you look carefully at the wall you can still see “Thos. Davidson Mfg” painted there.


From the rear, the building looks like a typical early 20th century factory.


The Toronto Archives picture below is dated 1972 and shows the Canary Restaurant from the angle of the Palace Street School building.  The restaurant operated in the building from 1965 until 2007 when the neighbourhood was consisted of mostly vacant or demolished buildings.  The Canary Restaurant had become a local icon and now provides the name “The Canary District” to the section of the Lower Donlands that used to be home to Maple Leaf Pork processing plants.  The building has had a heritage designation since 1976 and latest proposal includes it in the future Anishnawbe Health Centre development, the city’s first ever indigineous hub.

Front Street at Cherry Street

Creator: Harvey R. Naylor Date: February 16, 1972 Archival Citation: Fonds 1526, File 60, Item 12 Credit: City of Toronto Archives Copyright was transferred to the City of Toronto by the copyright owner.

From the front you can see the three different architectural styles in the building, each reflecting the period in which it was built as well as the intended purpose of the additions.  The 1859 school on the right, the 1890 hotel in the centre and the 1922 factory on the left.


On January 30, 1923 the Grand Trunk Railway was officially absorbed into the Canadian National Railway.  Shortly thereafter the CNR built an office building beside the earlier GTR tracks.  The building was later occupied by the CNR Police and is now often referred to as the CNR Police Building.  The CNR used it until 1970 and most recently it has been used to sell the condos that have been built all around it.


The picture below is from 1932 and shows the extensive railway sheds that ran along Front Street.  The two story office building at the far end is all that remains today.  During the 1990’s this building was used to shoot multiple films for Toronto’s film industry.

cherry 1932

It remains to be seen how these two historic buildings will be integrated into the Canary District but hopefully they will both survive.  If you are in the area you can always visit Corktown Common, a new park just east along Front Street.

Google Maps Link: Cherry and Front Street

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Bruce Trail – Crawford Forestry Tract

Saturday, July 27, 2019

It promised to be a very hot summer day and so we decided to take cover on a shady section of The Bruce Trail.  The Crawford Forestry Tract is a secondary part of Crawford Lake Conservation Area and is just west of the park.  The main Bruce Trail runs through both areas and so we parked on Twiss Road where there is space for several cars at the trail crossing and set out to walk through the forestry tract.

crawford 2

In part of the cedar forest we came across what appeared to be a red flower similar to a poppy.  The cup in the middle was recessed quite deep but didn’t have normal flower parts inside but rather a centre the same as the outside.


The patterns of gills underneath reveal that it is in fact a type of mushroom.  This is most likely some kind of scarlet waxy cap that has become deformed and sunken in the middle as it starts to decay.  There is nothing in the mushroom book that looks like a poppy.   The Crawford Forestry Tract is also known as Crawford Tract II provides habitat for 14 species which are at risk.  There’s also 3 globally and 7 provincially rare habitat types in the park.


There are wetlands throughout the forestry tract and the water lilies are in bloom.


The Crawford Tract has some sections of trail that are typical of the escarpment where you are walking over limestone and dolomite boulders that have been broken apart by karst activity.


Coral Spring Mycena is one of the first gilled mushrooms to appear in the spring, however it will be found from May until September.  It also goes by the name Orange Bonnet and because it is so small most people consider it to be inedible.


Slugs and snails are related to oysters and clams in that they are all molluscs.  The front end has either two or four antenna.  If there is only two they will each have an eye on it.  If there are four the additional two will be used for sensory perceptions. This little yellow one is known as a garden slug.


When you reach Guelph Line you have an option to continue into the Crawford Lake Conservation Area.  Once there you can explore the park, take a hike around the meromictic lake and visit the reconstructed longhouses.  We decided instead to head back because that would have added considerable distance to the hike and it was already one of those hot days when it is prudent not to push it too far.


When you walk a trail in two directions you often see things on the return trip that you didn’t catch on the way in.  It was starting to seem that mushrooms had appeared in the time between our two passes.  A large patch of Burnt-orange Bolete mushrooms was appearing, several just breaking ground.  These mushrooms are listed as edible but apparently have a bitter taste.


There’s never a shortage of things to see along the Bruce Trail and at this time of year the mushrooms are out in their short lived glory.  For many of them you have only one day to see them at their best before they start to fade and rot.

Google Maps Link: Crawford Forestry Tract

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