Category Archives: Cooksville Creek

Cooksville Creek

Monday, September 1, 2019

Cooksville Creek in Mississauga has its entire watercourse within the city and in fact it even flows under Square One Shopping Centre.  Over the years it has come under great stress as a result of the changing nature of the watershed development.  With so much of the surrounding areas now paved over and developed the flash flooding of the creek has become a serious problem leading to erosion and property damage.  There are 304 buildings in the lower watershed that are subject to flooding in a 100-year event like Hurricane Hazel.  The city is currently implementing new flood control measures including widening of the creek bed south of Mississauga Valley Boulevard.  We found free parking at the Mississauga Valley Community Centre.  From there we went to explore the construction of the flood controls on the creek.


The main flow of Cooksville Creek has been diverted into a pipe while they widen and deepen the channel.


The woodlands on either side of the ravine are home to a large population of squirrels.  There is a constant food supply for them in the cone and nut trees and both black and red squirrels can be seen collecting food for their winter supply.  Having a good food supply for one species means that they will become a good food source for another predator.  We saw this red-tailed hawk sitting in a tree keeping an eye open for breakfast.


The danger exists in the air from the hawks and on the ground from the coyotes.  The mud in the exposed creek bed has been crossed over many times with coyote tracks.


The river grapes are starting to ripen along the sides of the trail.  The crop this year looks to be doing very well with lots of fruit for the wild animals to feed on.  Coyote feces that we see along the trail seems to contain a lot of seeds and fruit husks and this isn’t unusual in the summer and fall as they supplement their diet.


The lower part of this reach was reworked a couple of years ago to increase stability of the sides and create retaining pools to hold the water during flood events.


The transition point between the section that was completed and that which has not been touched recently.  Although some sections appear to be quite naturalized they have in fact all been subject to more than one repair since the creek was urbanized in the 1940’s.  Of the 14.9 kilometres of creek there are only 1.2 kilometres that are natural while there are a full 35 kilometres of gabion baskets which are failing.  The flood water has washed in behind them in places causing them to collapse into the creek, further diverting the flow and causing more erosion.


The mallard ducks that were born this spring have now become fully grown.  We were enjoying watching them walk up the little waterfall in the creek.  Over the years the repairs to the stream have reduced most of the natural pools and riffles in the watercourse.  This is one of the places where the water gets oxygenated.


It’s the last weekend of the Canadian National Exhibition which always features the famous air show.  On the way back home I would be treated to a squadron flying in formation on their way back to the airport.  Just as the airshow marks the end of the CNE and the unofficial end of summer, nature’s air show marks the return of fall.  We saw a gaggle of geese flying in the “V” formation that they use when flying south,  The strongest birds fly in front while the weaker ones follow in their wind currents.


There are sections that have not been subject to heavy equipment in recent years.  The undergrowth in these areas is first generation of trees.  There are no large oak or maple trees that one would find in a succession forest.  Where the work was completed in the past few years there are newly planted trees that may some day provide a mature forest.  For now the trees are stripped back away from the edge of the creek so that there is no shade over the water.  This leads to higher water temperatures and destroys the habitats.  Cooksville Creek is essentially a dead creek with nothing but a few water skimmers in the upper reaches.  This loss of riparian vegetation is a contributing factor to the decline of the Red-Sided Dace in the past 30 years.  At one time they would have been populous in Cooksville Creek as they were in most GTA waterways.


At this time you can’t walk the entire course of Cooksville Creek due to the construction work.  We went through anyway and although it was a holiday Monday there was someone on site who ignored us.  Once you get south of the railway tracks there is a large green space that was formerly occupied by several homes.  This is an interesting place where you can find foundations and driveways that are being overtaken by the new growth of vegetation.


This area was accessed by Given Road which we have previously described in a post that can be found at the link above.


Cooksville Creek is a real mess today and you wonder how it can ever recover.  However, if you look closely, every ravine has a set of sewer access points that are dated from the 1950’s and up.  These remind us that there has been heavy equipment in the ravines before and since the infrastructure below will need maintenance at some point, there will be again.

Google Maps Link: Cooksville Creek

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Adamson Estate

Saturday Jan. 24, 2015,

Joseph Cawthra came to York in 1802 and was given 400 acres of land near Port Credit where Lotten – Cawthra House would eventually be built.  He was a prominent reformer working with the likes of William Lyon MacKenzie to bring responsible government to Upper Canada.  Like Robert Baldwin, of Spadina house, he was elected to the government where he sought to bring about change.  Cawthra street in Mississauga used to be his driveway.  When his daughter Mabel married Agar Adamson they were given the lakefront property and it became known as the Adamson Estate.  The property remained in the hands of their son Anthony until 1970.

cawthra map

It was minus 2 feeling like minus 6 with the odd snow flurry.  Parking off of the end of Hampton Street will place you just east of where Cooksville Creek empties into Lake Ontario.  As we walked along the waterfront we found many species of birds including Mute Swans which have made their home along the waterfront.


The icy waters of Cooksville Creek have been splashing off the branches along the creek edge creating an elaborate ice sculpture.


Right at the mouth of Cooksville Creek we spotted a Snowy Owl sitting on the ice.  These owls spend their summers north of the Arctic Circle hunting lemmings.  Each bird can consume up to 1600 lemmings per year.  It is normal for a few Snowy Owls to be seen in Southern Ontario each winter.  Last year they appeared in record numbers for the first time in about 15 years.  When large numbers of birds are found outside of their normal migration zones it is called an irruption.  If it happens a second year in a row, as it has this year, it is termed an echo.  We observed this female from both sides of the creek as well as on a rooftop where she flew when we got too close.  We also saw what was likely a second one in the park near our cars when we returned at the end of the hike.


My first encounter with a Snowy Owl came almost exactly 40 years ago in February 1975 when local band Rush released their album Fly by Night.


From the mouth of the Cooksville Creek looking west you can see an old freighter.  This is the Ridgetown and it guards the entrance to Port Credit harbour at the mouth of the Credit River. Built in Chicago in 1905 it became grounded in a storm on it’s maiden voyage and suffered $100,000 worth of damage.  In 1970 it was sunk at Nanticoke to form part of a temporary break wall while construction of the Ontario Power Plant was being completed.  Later it was raised and brought to Toronto where it was filled with stone and sunk on June 21, 1974 in it’s present location.


Giant Hogweed is a noxious plant that grows up to 10 feet tall and can cause severe burns and blindness.  There are many examples growing along the west bank of the Cooksville Creek.  If you hike here in the summer beware as the path leads right through a patch of them.


As you enter the Adamson Property there are two old tree stumps that have been carved with animal figures.  One has three squirrels carved into it while the one in the picture below features raccoons.


Built in 1932 by Anthony Adamson, son of Agar and Mabel, the Derry House sits on the east end of the Adamson property.   It’s “U” shaped construction frames a central fireplace and flagstone courtyard.  Anthony and his wife Augusta lived here until his mother passed away in December 1943.  After they moved into the family mansion this house was sold to the Derry family, whose name it bears today.  Anthony was awarded the Order of Canada for his contribution to Canadian architecture.


The barn dates to 1870 and is one of the oldest surviving agricultural structures in the region. It is built with a foundation of field stones and mortar and an upper portion of board and batten. The farm was known as “The Grove” due to the large grove of white pine trees that were reserved to be used as masts for ships by the Royal Navy.


The main house was built over the winter of 1919-1920 and it’s date stone is featured in the cover photo.  It replaced a summer cottage from 1866 that stood between it and the lake.  The site of the original log cabin from 1809 was identified in 1991 and stood close to the water front.  It appears that each time the family built a new home they moved a few feet further away from the lake.  This view is taken from the upstairs balcony below the bell on the gatehouse.


The gatehouse or “Folly” was built in 1904 and is one of only three of this design in Canada.  The other two are in Ottawa at the residence of the Prime Minister and the Governor General.  The upstairs served as a nursery for Anthony who was born in 1906.


The so-called orange room extends from the west end of the house and contains a unique rounded balcony and a small cupola.


Rhododendron gardens grow under the evergreen trees on the front lawns of the house.


By 1968 there were only 15 acres of the original property left that had not been sold off. Anthony applied to the city for permission to develop the site for apartment buildings and the city rezoned it for high rise in 1972.  After neighbours sent in 115 letters of objection the Credit Valley Conservation Authority stepped in and expropriated the land, buying out the Adamsons in 1975.

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