Sunday, May 3, 2020
In keeping with the request to limit travel I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and walk through the Burke Brook ravine to The Don River and back. Years of exploring different places each weekend has left me with the impression that my local park was boring. That certainly wasn’t true. One section of the trail along Burke Brook in Sherwood Park is an off-leash dog area and is currently closed due to COVID-19. This forced me to walk along Blythwood Avenue until I reached Bayview. From just south of there I could enter the ravine near the old Bayview Transformer House. I stopped to see the deterioration that had occurred since my last visit. With all the windows broken, the weather has been able to get inside and the ceiling is almost gone.
White Fawn Lily are a variation of the yellow Trout Lily. These plants are also known as Adder’s Tongue and Dog’s-tooth Violet. Yellow Trout Lily are very common throughout the GTA but the white ones are a rare find.
Twice I thought I heard something in the leaves but couldn’t identify a source for the sound. Moments later I crested a small rise to see a Garter Snake crossing the trail. It stopped to say “Hello” and then was gone under the leaves.
There is a well used trail along the valley floor that follows Burke Brook and the upper trail is used mostly by cyclists. For this reason you need to be cautious as there are places where allowing a bike to pass is tricky. There’s also a couple of steep sections that are impassible when muddy. The section pictured below has a knotted rope to help people get up the slope.
White Trillium are the Provincial Flower for Ontario. Along the trail I found a small patch of three. At this time of year I usually follow the progress of the red ones in G Ross Lord Park. These are less common than the white ones, but there are between 3 and 5 red flowers in one spot and 2 in another. On occasion, the white flowers may have a green stripe down the middle of each petal. This is caused by a virus and the size of the stripe will increase until the plant is no longer able to produce proper flowers and seeds.
I returned to the trail in the valley which has a boardwalk through sections where water is weeping out of the ground. There were a few people on the trail but when parks are only used by the locals, it is fairly easy to respect social distancing guidelines. We’ll see how it goes when they ease the restrictions and everyone rushes out to the trails the first nice weekend. I hope people won’t be careless and cause the parks to be closed again.
Burke Brook enters the Don River near another off-leash dog park which is currently closed. It is possible to get to the mouth of the brook but other people were already enjoying it so I chose to go another way.
Near the mouth of Burke Brook I found the remains of of a concrete circle, possibly a well except that had been lined with wood. I decided that it had probably been part of the landscaping for the home of Joseph and Alice Kilgour. The donation of their 200 acre estate had allowed the creation of Sunnybrook Park and provided the land for Sunnybrook Hospital. Later, as I did a little research, I discovered that there just might be enough interesting stuff around to tell their story. It looks like another neighbourhood walk is in order.
There were many Ostrich Ferns throughout the area, just beginning to open. At this point of their development people often refer to them as Fiddlehead Ferns because their shape is similar to the end of a fiddle. Later when they are fully open they resemble Ostrich plumes, from which they take their name. It is when they are very young that people pick them to enjoy the annual delicacy of fresh fiddleheads.
Bloodroot is a member of the poppy family and is one of the earlier spring flowers. There is a single leaf and flower that emerge on separate stems but with the leaf completely wrapping around the flower bud. The red sap from the roots of the plant was traditionally used as a dye for clothing and baskets. It was also used by the native peoples as an insect repellent.
You can follow the Don River northward until you come to Glendon Forest. This section of the river is usually home to a heron and several families of cardinals. I didn’t see any and decided not to wander too far into Glendon Forest as that is another entire adventure on its own.
The original driveway leading to the Kilgour properties still leads back up the hill toward Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. It was here that the first presumptive case of COVID-19 in Ontario was recorded. I walked by and realized that behind these walls are hundreds of true heroes. This blog is dedicated to everyone who works in this series of hospital buildings and all other front line workers, everywhere.
All of this was within walking distance of my home. What is waiting near you?
Click here for our previous story on Sunnybrook Park.
Google Maps Link: Sunnybrook Park
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