Category Archives: Humber River

Humber Heritage Trail Bolton

Saturday Sept. 10, 2016

The town of Bolton has an interesting past that developed along the Humber River when the mills began to arrive.  To help commemorate this they have developed the Humber Heritage Trail along the river.  The trail extends from the Trans-Canada Trail at Humber Station Road near Albion Hills Conservation Area through to Kleinberg.  It will cover 33 kilometers when it is completed and there is free parking in Dick’s Dam Park.  Even after the mill pond was no longer required the dam in this park used to have the boards inserted every summer to create a fishing and swimming hole.  This practice continued into the 1970’s.  From this park the trail extends in both directions however it has no discernable marking.  If there are coloured slashes I was unable to find them anywhere along the trail.

The trees in the park are full of empty Tent Caterpillar nests.  Placement in the tent is critical because the caterpillars emerge during the cool of spring.  They must elevate their body temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius in order for digestion to occur.  They move between layers of the tent to regulate themselves.  It is common for the temperature of the mass of caterpillars to be as much as 30 degrees Celsius higher than the surrounding air on a cool sunny morning.

img_3400

The Humber River was a source of water power and when the counties were surveyed it was the responsibility of the survey team to record the locations of suitable mill seats.  The stretch of river around what would come to be known as Bolton had several suitable places as the river drops quickly in elevation between Glasgow and Bolton.  James Bolton arrived in Upper Canada in 1819 and spent two years building mills around Southern Ontario.  He decided to settle down and farm and bought a 100 acre lot just north of Bolton.  In 1821 George Bolton emigrated to Canada and bought a mill site on the Humber River near his relatives.  James helped George build a grist mill and soon the community of Bolton’s Mills was established.  Black Walnut trees are no longer used for food like they were in the early days of settlement.  Pioneers used to set aside as many sacks of these nutritious nuts as they could for the winter.  These days Persian Walnuts are much easier to remove from the shell and have taken over the market.  Black walnuts are growing in several places along the trail and the green fruit balls are dropping to the ground.

img_3387

Although George started the mill he never married and it is James’ six sons who were prominent in village history. In 1842 one of them, also named James, bought the mill from George.  James moved the grist mill to the north side of the river and added a saw mill.  The first general store and post office was run by another of James Bolton’s sons, this one named George.  As can be seen in the picture below the clusters of wild grapes along the trail are ripe..

img_3434

The Toronto, Grey and Bruce Railway arrived in town in 1870.  With access to other markets the town prospered and new industry was attracted to the area around the mills.  A cooperage for making barrels and a blacksmith shop were added and new homes sprang up to house the workers.  By 1872 the community had grown to the point where it was incorporated as a town.  Dick’s Agricultural Works opened in 1869 and quickly became a major producer of quality agricultural implements.  Dodd’s Carriage Works and Plumber’s Foundry added to the growth of the town and led to it becoming the largest community in Caledon township.  Bolton Mill Park sits on top of the filled in mill race from Bolton’s mills.

img_3432

The mill passed out of the Bolton family’s control quite quickly as James sold it to Edward Lawson in 1855.  Lawson had it for 5 years before selling to John Gardhouse.  In 1881 he sold it to Andrew McFall who had to add steam power due to falling water levels in the Humber River.  The McFall family operated the mill for 46 years.  In 1899 Andrew added a rolling-chopping block so he could produce livestock feed.  The town of Bolton got it’s first electrical power from McFall’s generator in 1905.  McFall built a new dam just downstream from Bolton’s dam.  This 1912 concrete dam was built in response to another of the towns major floods, the second in two years.  Around 1984 the tiers were cut off of the dam reducing it to water lever to prevent the flooding that the dam was causing in the spring when ice got wedged behind the tiers.  Recently a channel was cut in the dam to allow fish to pass through.  The remains of McFall’s dam are featured below and in the cover photo.

img_3421

The mill changed hands several more times and finally ended up in the hands of the Woodbridge Farmer’s Cooperative in 1952. It had stopped using water power the previous year. In 1968 the mill was closed and then demolished to make way for Humber Lea Road.  The remains were set on fire for the local fire department to practice on.  A diversion channel was created in 1983 to carry the river away from the town core to try to reduce the damage caused by ongoing floods.

img_3424

In other places the river has been given a hard shoreline to reduce erosion.

img_3441

Black Eyed Susan flowers are out in full bloom.  These ones are sharing their space with this member of the sunflower family that is known as a White Swan or White Coneflower.

img_3395

The Humber Heritage Trail is a nice place to explore and it would be a great idea of they would mark the trail so people could follow it more easily.

Google Maps Link: Bolton

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikinghtegta.com

Hiking the GTA #100- Pernicious Plants and Beautiful Blossoms

April 28, 2014 to July 18, 2015

Presented below is a gallery of plant, flower and fungi  pictures taken during the first 100 hikes on the journey called Hiking the GTA.  This post concludes our celebration of chapter one in this adventure.

On July 21, 2015 I published my 100th post in this blog under the title Hiking the GTA #100 – Greatest Treks.  That post presented the 15 most popular stories on the blog, so far.  I’ve posted a gallery of animal pictures from those first blogs under the title Hiking the GTA – Amazing Animals.  Ontario has many edible plants, some very beautiful ones and several really nasty ones.  The pictures below are in no particular order except that the three most common poisonous ones are presented first.

Giant Hogweed is one of the nastiest plants in Ontario.  It can cause severe burns and even blindness.  These picture shows last year’s stocks and this year’s white blossoms and was published in the Canada Day post on July 1, 2015.

IMG_6074

Wild Parsnip is another plant with similar poisonous sap to the Giant Hogweed.  This picture was taken in Riverwood Part 1 – The Bird Property on June 28, 2014.

IMG_2492

A third poisonous plant is Poison Ivy.  This patch was photographed at Barbertown on Aug. 23, 2014.

IMG_3016

Burdocks have a tiny hook on the end of each stem that inspired velcro.  This one, complete with Lady Beetle, was photographed at The Winding Lane Bird Sanctuary on Oct. 11, 2014.

IMG_0579

Coral Mushroom are one of the plants that although relatively rare can be eaten.  This fungi was discovered on Canada Day 2015.

IMG_6023

Ontario’s provincial flower is the Trillium.  These were seen on our hike from Old Mill to Lambton Mills on May 17, 2014.

IMG_1961

The Yellow Iris is an invasive species that takes over our wetlands and chokes out other plant life.  This patch was seen on June 14, 2014 near Raymore Drive.

IMG_2190

Dog-Toothed Violets were seen on the hike where we discovered the Ovens Above Old Mill on May 10, 2014.

IMG_1894

The Vipers Bugloss has a brilliant shade of blue.  We found this example during our hike at the Devil’s Pulpit on July 11, 2015.

SAMSUNG

We found young teasels growing at Glen Williams on June 27, 2015.

SAMSUNG

Jack-In-The-Pulpit plants can live up to 100 years.  We found this large plant growing in Palgrave on May 30, 2015.

IMG_4909

Forget-Me-Nots were used in Newfoundland for their Remembrance Day celebrations before they joined confederation and adopted the poppy.  There were photographed near the Barber Paper Mills on June 6, 2015.

IMG_5189

Coltsfoot is one of the first flowers seen in spring.  We found this patch at Churchville on April 3, 2015.

IMG_3227

Canada Thistle isn’t native to Canada but appears on our Coat of Arms.  This bee was collecting pollen on a Canada Thistle near the Erindale Hydro Electric Dam on Oct. 19, 2014

IMG_0730

Black Willow trees grow in wet areas and reach massive sizes.  This one is in Riverside Park in Streetsville where we visited on Sep. 6, 2014.

IMG_3181

Trees suck the chlorophyll back out of the leaves and store it in the woody parts of the tree for re-use the next year.  These trees appear to be doing just that.  These were also photographed at The Winding Lane Bird Sanctuary on Oct. 11, 2014.

IMG_0611

Our parks are full of a wide variety of plants which keep the woods alive with splashes of colour from early spring until late fall.  Watch out for the pernicious plants and enjoy the beautiful blossoms as you have your own adventures, Hiking the GTA.

Visit us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

 

Hiking the GTA #100 – Amazing Animals

April 28, 2014 to July 18, 2015

Presented below is a gallery of animal pictures taken during the first 100 hikes on the Hiking the GTA adventure.

On July 21, 2015 I published my 100th post in this blog under the title Hiking the GTA #100 – Greatest Treks.  That post looked back at the creation of Hiking the GTA and listed the top 15 hikes as determined by activity on WordPress.  This post presents some of the amazing animals that we encountered along the way.  By hiking quietly and keeping off of the beaten path you have the opportunity to come face to face with some of the wide variety of wildlife we share our parks with.  Most of the animals are more afraid of you than you are of them and will disappear quickly.  In reality some of the plants in our parks are more dangerous than the wildlife.  The following pictures are in the order in which I took them except that I saved my personal favourite for last.  Links to the related articles are provided where additional descriptions of the animals are presented.

This White Tail Deer buck was following me through the woods along Wilket Creek on June 22, 2014.  This was the only creature I saw all year that made me nervous as I’m usually the one doing the following.

IMG_2389

The little baby Cross Orb Weaver spiders in this picture are just hatching and look like grains of pepper leaving the egg sac.  The mother spider had previously brought a Daddy Long Legs spider into the web to provide a breakfast to the hatchlings.  Seen near Middle Road Bridge on Aug. 16, 2014

IMG_2944

This Red Tailed Hawk was feasting near Barbertown on Aug. 23, 2014.

IMG_3098

Also seen in Barbertown was this Dekay’s Brown Snake on Aug. 23, 2014

IMG_3021

The Monarch Butterfly below was seen at the forks of the Don on Sept. 14, 2014.

IMG_3361

Spadina House has it’s own resident fox as photographed on Dec. 21, 2014.

Spadina 74

This Snowy Owl was seen at the Adamson Estate on Jan. 24, 2015

IMG_2092

This coyote was photographed in West Deane Park on Jan. 31, 2015

???????????????????????????????

The beaver in this picture was seen in Etobicoke Valley Park on Feb. 28, 2015

IMG_2663

This White Egret was fishing near the dam at The Old Mill on May 10, 2015.

IMG_4287

The Red Breasted Grosbeak below was photographed in Norval on May 16, 2015.

IMG_4404a

This Trumpeter Swan, complete with tracking tag, was seen at the mouth of the Credit River and featured in The Ridgetown – Port Credit on May 23, 2015.

IMG_4755

This Black-crowned Night Heron was published in The Forks of the Credit – The Stone Cutter’s Dam on July 18, 2015.  Unlike the Great Blue Heron in the cover photo it does not have long legs and neck.

IMG_6600

Hiding in plain sight in the picture below is a new born White Tail Deer Fawn.  This is my favourite picture of the past year and was taken near the Barber Paper Mills on June 6, 2015.

IMG_5361

This is just a sample of the some of the amazing animals we saw on our journeys in the first 100 hikes in this blog.  Many others were featured and many more will yet be photographed on future hikes.

visit us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Hiking the GTA #100 – Greatest Treks

April 24, 2014 to July 18, 2015

The following is a look back on some of the most popular hikes in the past 100 blogs. Companion posts will include some of the more interesting plants and animals photographed along the way.

After years of hiking up down down the ravines in the GTA and collecting thousands of pictures I needed a better way to organize and describe my photos.  A friend suggested WordPress and so I took the pictures for Saturday April 24, 2014 and created my first post.  Since then I’ve had the opportunity to hike much of the Humber, Don and Credit Rivers along with a wide variety of other spots.  My mom has become an avid reader and I’ve picked up some other readers along the way.

We’ve visited some very interesting historical places, seen a lot of wildlife and the abundant nature the area has to offer.  We never missed a weekend due to rain-outs.  One hike this past winter never got published when I couldn’t differentiate between the polar bear picture and the egret due to the driving snow storm .  To celebrate this, my 100th post, I thought I’d take a look back at those stories that were the most popular in this first chapter of the ongoing adventure that is Hiking The GTA. Below are the top 15 posts and a link to the full story should something catch your fancy.

15. High Park – Colborne Lodge – Hike Date: Nov. 22, 2014

John Howard donated the land for High Park in 1873.  He built his house, Colborne Lodge in 1837 and it remains largely unchanged today.  This post explores the west side of the park including Grenadier Pond.

IMG_1199

14. Humber Bay to Bloor – Hike Date: May 24, 2014

One of the earliest hikes in the blog, this one covers the lower stretch of the Don River.  Near Bloor Street an abandoned building overlooks King’s Mill Park.

IMG_2041

13. Guildwood Park – Hike Date: Apr. 19, 2015

Home to the Guildwood Inn, this former artist colony features artwork from several of Toronto’s demolished buildings.

IMG_3833

12. Military Burying Grounds – Hike Date: Mar. 22, 2015

The first burial in York (Toronto) occurred in 1794 when Lieutenant Governor Simcoe buried his one year old daughter in the woods behind Fort York.  This became the site of the Fort York cemetery until it was declared full and a second military burial grounds was opened at the west end of the Fort York Commons.

IMG_2952

11. Don Valley Brick Works – Hike Date: Nov. 16, 2014

Starting in 1882 and lasting for close to 100 years, the Don Valley Brick Works produced much of the brick used in constructing early Toronto.  This post explores the various buildings as well as the old pit, now converted to a park.

IMG_1083

10. Erindale Hydro Electric Dam – Hike Date: Oct. 19, 2014

Constructed between 1902 and 1910 the electric power generation plant in Erindale operated until 1923.  This hike explored the old dam, the surrounding park and the intake housing for the head race to the power station.

IMG_0683

9. Bayview Estates – Hike Date: Nov. 2, 2014

The area of Bayview Avenue and Lawrence Avenue was home to several grand estates owned by Toronto’s millionaires in the early 1900’s.  This post visits several of these estates and stops by the pre-1929 Bayview Ave. bridge, pictured below.

IMG_0886

8. The Devil’s Pulpit – Hike Date: July 11, 2015

The area around the Forks of the Credit was home to quarries during the late 1800’s.  This post explores an old lime kiln and climbs the 100 metre face of the Devil’s Pulpit.  The picture below shows the view from the top.

IMG_6501

7 . Garbage Park Toronto – Hike Date: Apr. 13, 2015

This post was an example of me skipping stones in the big pond called city hall.  I was attempting to get the city to clean up an incredibly polluted stretch of parkland.  I went back and did a regular historical feature on the site in a later post called Dufferin Creek.  The Toronto Star featured the story in their column called The Fixer on April 22, 2015.  You can read their story here.

???????????????????????????????

6. Barber Dynamo – Hike Date: June 6, 2015

Built in 1888 the Barber Dynamo provided electricity to the Barber Paper Mills until 1913 when electrical power was brought from Niagara Falls.  This historic building stands about 3 km downstream from the paper mill.

IMG_5259

5. Pottery Road – Hike Date: Aug. 10, 2014

Pottery road likely followed part of an old Indian trail that ran along the Iroquois Bluffs.  When the Bayview extension was built in 1959 Pottery road was cut in two and the part west of Bayview was left to be reclaimed by nature.

IMG_2799

4. Half Mile Bridge – Hike Date: Aug. 13, 2014

Built in 1888 this bridge brought the CPR into Union station.  Prior to it’s contruction the CPR train had to back up all the way from The Junction to Union Station.  This bridge across the Don River Valley was abandoned in 2007 and trees now grow beside the rails along the former right of way.

IMG_2908

3. Barber Paper Mills – Hike Date: June 6, 2015

Situated on the side of the Credit River in Georgetown, the Barber Paper Mills were the first industry in Canada to build it’s own dynamo and transmission lines to provide electrical power to their mill.  A paper mill was operated here from the mid 1800’s until 1948 when it was closed.

IMG_5155

2. Limehouse – Hike Date: June 20, 2015

The village of Limehouse developed around a local lime industry.  The remains of set kilns from the 1840’s and an 1860’s style draw kiln along with the foundations of a lime mill with it’s stone arch and a powder house make this an historically interesting hike.  The Bruce Trail runs through an area known as the Hole in the Wall where you can climb through cracks in the rock face.

IMG_5685

1. Newmarket Ghost Canal – Hike Date: June 21, 2015

Although two previous plans to build a canal system using the Holland River had been abandoned when found to be impractical and too expensive, the idea was resurrected in 1904. The canal would run from Cook’s Bay on Lake Simcoe to Newmarket using three locks and four swing bridges.  Cost over-runs and insufficient water supply to fill the locks caused it to be cancelled in 1912 when construction was nearly complete.

IMG_5851

Who knows what the future holds?  One thing I’m sure of is this.  If I get the opportunity to do another 100 hikes I’m going to see some awesome things.  Thanks to everyone for coming along on chapter one and let’s see what’s in store in chapter two of the adventure that is Hiking The GTA.

Visit us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

The Old Mill

Sunday May 10, 2015

It was 20 degrees with rain in the forecast and the Japanese Cherry Trees in High Park were in full bloom.  Unfortunately, several thousand other people went to view them as well and there was simply no parking.  (This would have been a good time to use the subway). Fortunately, the Old Mill is very close and has some interesting things to explore.  Parking in the parking lot on the east side of the Humber River we chose to walk as far north as the old dam and then from there back to the mill.

False Solomon’s Seal is growing in the woods along the east bank of the river.  This plant can be eaten in the spring when the stems are still tender.  The native peoples used it for it’s strong laxative properties.  When it is a young plant is strongly resembles another highly toxic plant so please make sure that it is positively identified.

IMG_4195

Robins lay their eggs in clutches of 3 to 5 eggs.  They hatch about two weeks after they’re laid and the bald babies with their eyes closed are protected by both male and female birds.  A couple of weeks later and the young birds are already proficient fliers.  A mating pair will raise two or three broods in a season.  Only about 25% of the young will survive the first year with the longest known life span being 14 years.  Robins take the egg shells and throw them at some distance from the nest.  This is to keep predators from robin the nest.

IMG_4261

The Humber was dammed just north of the Old Mill.  Today, most of this has been removed for flood control following Hurricane Hazel in 1954.  An egret stands fishing in the waters just below the water falls.

IMG_4284

In the 19th century people had a love for the plumage of the egret and this led to their demise. Egrets are monogamous with both male and female protecting the young in the nest. The little ones are fiercely aggressive with the stronger ones often killing the weaker so that they don’t all reach the fledgling stage. Over hunting lead to their near extinction and the implementation of some of the first conservation laws protecting birds.

IMG_4287

The cormorant in the picture below looked like he was having fun.  He rode the river straight toward the fastest part of the water falls.  He did his last second launch and landed gracefully to score a perfect ten.

IMG_4308a

An earlier mill bridge over Catherine Street was made of steel truss with a wooden decking and it was lost in the spring ice break up of 1916. The picture below shows the bridge on Mar. 29th in the ice field.  Two days later it was gone.

old mill bridge

The bridge was replaced the same year by this three arch stone structure.  Stone arch bridges date back to Roman times and the frequent loss of bridges on the Humber led to the decision to construct this more substantial one.  Frank Barber had pioneered the use of concrete in Canadian bridge construction in 1909 and by 1913 had designed all nine that had been built in Upper Canada.  His design for the bridge at the old mill has survived 99 spring ice break ups and Hurricane Hazel while others up and down the river have been lost.  The Humber River divided York County and the Township of Etobicoke at the time of construction and their crests are carved in stone on either side of the centre arch.

IMG_4283

Water from the dam on the river was brought under Catherine Street via the head race which flowed through this passage.

IMG_4210

From here it was dropped onto the water wheel.  This type of water wheel is known as over-shot because the water comes from above.  Close examination of the wall in front of the wheel shows that the tail race used to pass through here but has been closed off with new stone. There is a straight line up the wall that marks the old passageway.

IMG_4220

The first mill in York (Toronto) was constructed in 1793 at the request of Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe and this was the first industrial site in Toronto.  It was known as the King’s Mill after King George III of England who was the reigning monarch at the time.  The mill went into operation the following year when the mill wheels and gear systems arrived from England where they had been forgotten the year before.  The government elected to lease the mill and ended up with a long series of mill operators.  The first mill was a  saw mill but while Thomas Fisher was the miller he replaced it with a grist mill in 1834.  William Gamble bought the mill and replaced it with a new larger mill.  This mill was destroyed by fire in 1849. The fourth mill was built on the same location by Gamble.  During this time it was known as Gamble’s Mill and the upper story was used to store apples.  During the winter a wood burning stove was kept going to keep the apples from freezing.  This practice ended badly when the stove overheated in the winter of 1881 and burned the mill down.  It sat abandoned until 1914 when Robert Home Smith, who was instrumental in developing the Port Lands, bought 3000 acres in the area of the mill to create a subdivision.  He converted part of the site into the Old Mill Tea Garden.  Various additions were made over the next 80 years as the area became a focal point in the community. In the  1990’s significant restoration and reconstruction of the original grist mill was undertaken and in 2001 the Old Mill Inn was opened with 57 luxurious suites.  The picture below shows some of the original stonework from the 1849 mill with the new English Tudor style hotel on top.

IMG_4230

The stone on the lower portion of the mill is darker and may represent the foundations of Fisher’s mill.  The cover photo shows the abandoned mill as it looked in 1913 just prior to the start of redevelopment.

IMG_4233

I close with this majestic tree simply because it’s nice after months of brown and white photo’s to have a vibrant green one.

IMG_4198

Google Maps Link: The Old Mill

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

Rowntree Mills

Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014

It was overcast and 5 degrees with occasional light drizzle.  Parking is available on Hathor Crescent just before Rowntree Mills Road descends the hill to the river.  The road is closed at the bottom of the hill and from here the bridge across the Humber river can be seen.  The bridge is a steel girder construction and has been fitted with new wood decking to convert it into a safe pedestrian bridge.  It’s construction likely dates to around 1900.  The bridge can be seen crossing the river in the lower corner of the cover photo, which is an aerial shot from 1953. The photo below of the bridge is taken from the west bank of the river.

IMG_0923

Joseph Rowntree arrived in Canada from England in 1830 and set himself up in an area known as Pine Ridge, just outside of Thistletown.  In 1843 he built a saw mill on the east side of the Humber river and in 1848 he built a grist mill on the west side.  A road was built to access the mill which we now call Rowntree Mills road.  A bridge was built across the river and he named it all Greenholme Mills.  In 1870 Joseph added the Humberwood Mills, a mile down river, to the family holdings.  The cover photo shows the grist mill as it appeared in 1953. Rowntree Mills road crosses the bridge and passes to the west of the mill.  A laneway completes the loop on the river side of the mill.  Today the area where the mill stood 60 years ago has become completely overgrown.  All that could be found was this square area of concrete in the woods and many piles of bricks, stone and concrete.

IMG_1017

From the east side of the river the former mill site can be identified by the row of pine trees that ran along side of the lane way that lies between the mill and the river.  They show up as the dark strip to the right of the road, adjacent to the mill, in the cover photo.  I can picture Joseph planting these pines along the ridge in honour of the community of Pine Ridge where he lived. The mill stood about 20 feet above the current water level of the river.  It isn’t immediately obvious how Joseph used the water power from the river to turn the grinding wheels in his grist mill.  It may have initially been an undershot wheel sticking out into the river.

IMG_1024

It was a morning full of various birds.  At one point a migration of cardinals passed through but none sat still long enough to get their picture taken.  There were also flickers, herons, and large birds of prey.  Some of the trees in the area display the straight rows of tiny holes that are typical of a yellow-bellied sap sucker.  These woodpeckers drill little holes from which they feed on the sap that flows out.  The tree in the picture below had these rows of holes extending for as far up the tree as the eye can see.

IMG_0930

This plant is known as tall thimbleweed.  The single head on a tall stem contains tiny nubs that make it look like a thimble.  When the seed heads burst open they look and feel like cotton. Native peoples used the plants for medicinal purposes but we now know that the leaves are toxic in large doses and so the plant is used mainly for decoration.  The picture below shows both a closed pod and one that has blown open to spread its seeds to the wind.

IMG_0937

This very large red tailed hawk didn’t seem to mind posing for the camera.

IMG_0993

Rowntree Mills Park and the surrounding ravines have been taken over by white tail deer.  In one spot I was able to see 8 females at one time plus at least one male.  Mating season is known as rutting season for these deer.  Males begin their part of the rut in the fall when the velvet is falling off of their antlers.  In North America this lasts for several weeks with the peak being on average, November 13th.  The male’s part in the reproductive act lasts for exactly one thrust.  Ho-Hum.  Females go into rut for periods of up to 3 days at a time and can do so 7 times over the rutting season, or until they conceive. The picture below has at least 4 deer looking at the camera plus 4 others hiding in the background.

IMG_1005

In October 1954 the area on the east bank of the river just north of Rowntree Mills road was home to a small community of houses.  On the morning of October 16, 1954, there were 12 less of them there because Hurricane Hazel had swept them away.  Two people died in this area as well when they were trapped in their car as the river washed it down stream.  Today the area has been cleaned up and there is no trace, other than in old aerial photos, to show where the homes were. Rowntree Mills Park was named after Joseph in 1969 but was closed in 2009 due to wild parties that trashed the park.  Today it is basically abandoned although the grass is cut and the leaves are cleaned up.  The picture below is taken from the front yard of one of these former homes looking along the street where others once stood.

IMG_1023

At the corner of Rowntree Mills Road and Islington Avenue is a pioneer cemetery.  This land was donated in 1848 by Joseph Rowntree to be used for Pine Ridge Methodist Church and its cemetery.  There are many grave markers in here that commemorate the lives of various members of the Rowntree family.  Although it seems likely that Joesph was laid to rest here, I was unable to locate his grave marker.

IMG_1026

Google Maps link: Rowntree Mills Park

Like us at http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta

Follow us at http://www.hikingthegta.com

 

 

Claireville

Saturday Aug. 3, 2014

It was cool, at least to start with, at only 17 degrees.  We parked in the Humberwoods Community Centre and hiked north on the west side of the Humber.  Just south of Finch Avenue is a little park that has been developed as a bird flyway.  There are dozens of nests and things to attract birds and this is a great little park for bird watchers.  In the picture below are a couple of the many odd shaped nesting places that have been constructed there.

IMG_2715

The groundhog is a member of the Marmot family and is a type of ground squirrel.  They are one of the few species that enter true hibernation and they sleep until March or April. In the wild in Ontario they are always sleeping on groundhog day, and therefore, actually never see their own shadow.  After mating in the spring the pair stays together until the young are about to be born in April or May.  The male then leaves the burrow and the parenting to the female.  She gives birth to between 2 and 6 hairless blind kits. The young groundhog below was scared of us but didn’t try to run away.

IMG_2720

It was early in the morning and the dew sparkled on the spider webs.

IMG_2728

When the 427 was built plans were already in place to expand the highway by adding lanes between the North/South lanes.  As we went under the highway we could see the supports for the expansion that were built at the same time as the rest of the bridge.

IMG_2740

Claireville Dam was one of the flood control dams built in response to the damage caused by Hurricane Hazel.  in 1959 The Plan For Flood Control and Water Conservation was released.  Since 1960 over 40,000 acres of land has been acquired and 3 of the originally proposed 15 dams have been built.  Claireville dam was the first one, built in 1964.  The dam allows the Conservation Authority to collect water from heavy rains and release it slowly after the storm has passed.

IMG_2748

Indian Line started off as an Indian trail along the shore of the Humber river.  When the land survey was made it was part of the border between Peel County and York County. When hwy 427 was extended north it became part of an off and on ramp to the highway. In 1992 when the highway was further extended it was closed off and abandoned.  Parts of it now form hwy 50 north of Steeles ave.  Indian Line campground used to be accessed from just south of the river off of this road but is now accessed off of Finch Ave.  The picture below looks up the old roadway to the bridge that crosses the CN tracks.  When this bridge was built in the 1960’s this was an important road and it was made wide enough for 4 lanes to be opened one day.

IMG_2771

Claireville was a community that started in 1850 on the estate of Jean du Petit Pont de la Haye at the intersection of Steeles and Indian Line.  He named the town after his daughter Claire.  A third road ran diagonal through the property and was originally known as Claireville Road because that was the location of the toll booth along the road.  Early roads in Ontario were known for their mud (an early nick-name for Toronto was “Muddy York”) and were covered over in planks as soon as possible.  Plank roads required continuous maintenance and this was paid for through tolls collected by the road keeper. A horse and rider would pay 1/2 pence and 20 hogs or sheep cost 1/2 pence.  A wagon was 1 pence if drawn by a single horse but 1 1/2 pence if drawn by two.  When the Claireville road was planked a toll house was established.  Of all the houses which once stood in this town only a few remain.  There is a white two story house which remains and this was originally the toll house.  Since the 1950’s the town has declined and is now mainly an industrial neighbourhood.  The picture below shows the town as it was in 1947.

Claire 2

This picture has nothing to do with this hike but is a follow-up to last week’s move.  As I was cleaning the apartment I swept deep under a baseboard heater and out popped a little round black disc.  At first it didn’t look like anything but I could see that there was some writing on it.  I placed it in Coke for a few minutes to remove some of the gunge on it.  King Christian 7 ruled Denmark from 1668 to 1808.  The 1 Skilling Danske coin I found is in poor condition but still has a value of about $10.  Thank You to the previous tenant in my unit who lost this coin.  Don’t worry, it has found a good home in my collection.  It is interesting to me that Toronto was founded in 1796 at which time this coin was already 25 years old.  I find a lot of older things out hiking, but the oldest one so far was right under my heater for the past 8 years!

IMG_2714