Category Archives: Uncategorized

QEW’s Heritage Bridge

Saturday, December 21, 2019

When the completed Queen Elizabeth Way opened in 1939 it had the distinction of being the first super-highway in Canada and the also first one to be fully illuminated at night.  (Although that was delayed until war-time electricity restrictions were lifted in 1945.)  Several bridges were built over the major ravines and the one over the Credit River in Mississauga has been given an historic designation. In April 2019 the Provincial Government announced funding to rehabilitate the bridge and build a second one directly to the north to allow for increased traffic flow.  By November they had decided to demolish the bridge and build two new ones in a modern box design.  Public outcry has resulted in the recent announcement that the government will only seek tenders that include the preservation and restoration of the historic bridge.

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I decided to stop by and see what the bridge looked like and get some pictures in case the ongoing flip-flop continues and we end up without this structure.  It can be most easily seen from Stavebank Road north.  The bridge was built in 1934 and was partially financed under the New Deal that was a government spending program intended to spur the economy during the Great Depression.  The bridge is 840 feet long with seven spans and is historic for its Art Deco design.  Also significant is the fact that the highway was commissioned by the king and queen during the first ever visit to Canada by a reigning monarch.

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The bridge, along with the highway, was officially opened on June 7, 1939 by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.  Initially conceived in 1931, the highway was simple and intended to relieve congestion on Dundas Street and Lakeshore Road.  The new road would run between the two and be known as Middle Road for that reason.  This early version of the highway contains the historically significant Middle Road Bridge.  With the election of Mitch Hepburn’s Liberals in 1934 the plans were altered significantly in favour of a superhighway like the autobahns being built in Germany.  This resulted in the first cloverleaf in Canada being built for the interchange with Hurontario (Highway 10).  The Middle Road section of the highway opened in 1937 and was the 39 kilometres between Highway 27 and Burlington which included this bridge.  This picture features the view downstream.

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The view looking north up The Credit River from under the bridge.  Much of the eastern side of the river is wetland and marsh through this reach.

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There is a steel structure that has been installed between the main arches of the bridge and dates to the 1960 addition of two extra lanes in the middle of the bridge.  This allowed the highway to expand from four lanes to six.

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The bridge has been maintained several times including 1977, 1987 and 2014 but the weather and road salt is getting at it in several places again.  This looks like another opportunity for some patching of the decay.  There’s  few cavities but no root canal or extraction appears to be warranted.

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Part of the restoration will include replacing the road deck which is starting to rust in a few places.

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This Ministry of Transportation image shows the twin box design bridges that we almost got at this site.  It would seem that the new bridge on the north side of the existing one may use this design as it is a current favourite with the government.

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The architecture of the bridge is interesting in that the supports for the arches have their own arches included.  No such Art Deco design elements would be included in a replacement bridge.

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The bridge features some interesting lamp posts with the letters “ER” in the iron work.  This is Latin for Elizabeth Regina, or Queen Elizabeth.  It would be easy to conclude that this refers to Queen Elizabeth II, our current monarch.  However, she was only a 13-year old princess when and it was opened.  It was actually named for King George VI’s wife whose name was Elizabeth.  She was later known as the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II is her daughter.  The government plan for the demolition of the bridge would have seen the ornate lamp posts preserved and re-installed somehow in the new structure.  Fortunately they can be preserved in their current position on the rehabilitated bridge.

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Each day over 165,000 vehicles pass over this bridge but apart from the lamp posts most of them will never see the architecture of the bridge.  So, why care about a design that only a few fishermen and local residents will ever see?  The issue has far reaching implications because once heritage structures start to be demolished for economic reasons the entire designation system will become powerless to protect our remaining history.

Google Maps Link:  QEW Bridge

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Donalda Farm

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The property of the current Donalda Golf Club contains some of the oldest farm buildings remaining in the city of Toronto as well as one of the earliest surviving grist mills.  The property was deeded to William and Alexander Gray in 1825.  They quickly built a small milling empire along the sides of the Don River.  The County Atlas from 1877 shows the grist mill on one side of the river and the saw mill on the other.  The saw mill vanished when the timber industry ran out of local wood to use.  The grist mill was incorporated into later structures and the old lane way to the grist mill survives today as an access road.

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The lane way has been recognized for its historical significance and is now protected under the heritage act.  It served as an access road to allow farmers to bring their grain to the mill to sell it or have it ground for flour.  It served as a given road between the modern day Don Mills Road and Victoria Park Avenue.  The eastern half of this given road has been closed and serves the golf course.

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Around 1840 the two brothers built brick homes that stood side by side and just across the lane way from the grist mill.  These two houses still survive on the property and unfortunately it looks like the front of one of them has been painted red.  This hides the patterned brick work that is still evident on the side.  This house has a Georgian Style, a design that was popular between 1790 and 1875.

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The second house lacks the patterned brick but has a more Gothic design, popular from 1830-1890.  Based on the architectural styles it would appear that this house was constructed some time after the first one.

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The grist mill was built in the 1830s and operated until the farm was sold in 1916.  The Grays ground their own brand of flour which they called Wee MacGregor.  It is the oldest surviving grist mill in the city that stands on the original site.  The grain elevator shaft can still be found at the rear of the old mill.

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One of the doors on the top floor of the old grist mill appears to have shifted in its track.

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In 1916 David A Dunlap and Jesse Donalda Dunlap bought the farm from the Grays with the intention of building a model farm.  They had some ideas for sanitary husbandry that were ahead of their time and they wanted to showcase them to the world.  They hired the architects Wickson & Gregg to design and build their new barn, incorporating the old barn into the structure.  The cattle enjoyed soft radio music in the barn that featured fresh air ventilation.  In the winter they had steam heating to keep them warm and comfortable.  The pigs were bathed in olive oil and washed with toilet soap.  The front side of the old grist mill can be seen in this picture on the left of the new barn.

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The farm expanded to include 1800 acres of land with over 40 farm buildings and 30 employees .  A lot of attention to detail and fine workmanship went into everything including something as functional as the silo where the animal feed was kept.  No boring old poured concrete for this granary but rather some rather beautiful tiles have been used.

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This picture shows the farm buildings and the old grist mill from the side of the river where the saw mill once stood.

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David Dunlap made his fortune by founding the world’s greatest silver mine followed by founding the second greatest gold mine.  Although they never lived there permanently in 1920 the Dunlaps decided to build a new home that would be used as their country retreat.  The house was given doric columns and wrought iron was used to create a classical design.  When David died in 1924 he left a 5 million dollar estate farm that his wife operated with their son until it was sold in 1952.  By 1960 it had become the Donalda Golf Club and the home was renovated to become the club house.

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David Dunlap left a quarter million dollars each to several schools, hospitals and churches.  His donation to Toronto General Hospital funded the Dunlap Radiological Science Department.

Google Maps Link: Donalda Golf Course

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Chedoke Ski Hill

Saturday, November 30, 2019

On January 7, 1964 Chedoke Winter Sports Park was officially opened.  Mayor Vic Copps and  head of the parks board Thomas Newlands cut the ribbon that opened the first run with its 900 foot tow rope.  Over time two more tow ropes and a chair lift would be added along with sled runs.  The park operated until 2002 when poor snow conditions caused the city of Hamilton to decide not to open it that year.  The following year it was closed permanently with the city citing an annual loss of $250,000.  The cost of upgrading the snow making equipment to be able to perform in warmer temperatures along with lift upgrades would have cost an additional $3,000,000.  Over the next few years most of the poles and lift equipment was removed guaranteeing that it would never open again.  The picture below was taken from The Hamilton Spectator and shows the ribbon cutting ceremony that opened the park.

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The winter sports park added additional ski runs over the years as well as more tow lifts.  Eventually, a run would be opened from the top of the escarpment and it would be served by a chair lift.  Sled runs were also added and the park served as a winter destination for the next four decades.  Attendance declined over the years and the cost of operating the hill continued to increase until the city decided to close it permanently.

The Chedoke Rail Trail runs along the bottom of the escarpment near the Chedoke Golf Course and it has one unusual tunnel just north of the parking lot.  This tunnel allowed pedestrians to pass under the tow rope that carried skiers back to the top of the hill.  The tunnel is flanked on both sides by abandoned lamps that lit the former ski hill.

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This tow rope supported one of the shorter runs and ended just a few metres above the  Bruce Trail.  The concrete pads where the upper wheel was located have been left behind.  Near this spot is an open pit that contained snow making pipes and equipment so watch where you step if you explore this area.

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Each of the ski runs was lit for night skiing.  Although the lift mechanisms have been removed, the light fixtures were left behind.  They will slowly be overtaken by the new forest growth and will seem somewhat out of place to future explorers after the ski hills have been forgotten.

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Between 2003 and 2009 most of the lift equipment was removed from the site.  All of the lift poles and tow ropes were disassembled and carted away except for the main drive unit for the chair lift.  It still stands at the bottom of the longest run, hiding in a green shed.

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Inside the shed the main wheel and drive assembly still stands although the lift cable has been removed.  The wheel assembly is mounted on a pit in the floor that allowed the mechanism to be pulled backward by means of a hand crank and a series of cables.  This was used to keep the tension on the main lift cable.

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From outside of the lift shed the view up the hill reveals how quickly the trees are creeping back onto the ski slope.  The lift towers and chairs have been removed so we had to climb to the top.  The Bruce Trail crosses the slope about half way up the picture.

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Three rows of PVC pipe run down the length of the longest run.  These were used for the snow making equipment.  Expensive upgrades to this system  to allow snow making in warmer temperatures were cited as part of the reason for closing the site down.  The lift poles were removed that ran along beside these pipes and yet they were left behind.  It wouldn’t have taken much more effort to cut these up and cart them away while they were at it.  Estimates suggest that these pipes will still be laying here in the year 2500 if no one collects them.

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From the top of the escarpment you get a nice view out across Burlington Bay.  The first part of this run is pretty steep and was the adrenaline rush that the more experienced skiers were looking for.

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From this location on the top of the hill you are close to the old Mountain Sanatorium where they used to treat people with tuberculosis.  The sanatorium is now abandoned and most of the buildings have been torn down.  The Cross of Lorraine still stands at the top of the escarpment to mark the old hospital and it is visible from the trail below.  The gray squirrel has an average lifespan of 6 years if they make it past heir youth.  Records show lives of up to 20 years in captivity.

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We followed the Robert MacLaren Side Trail along the top of the escarpment with the plan of taking the Chedoke Stairs back down to the Chedoke Rail Trail and from there to investigate a couple of local waterfalls.  From the trail you can see the top of Westcliffe Falls but the actual waterfall is hidden from view.  A little farther along you come to a spectacular view of Cliffview Falls.  The view from the top suggested that it would be worth the effort to follow the creek from the bottom of the escarpment back up to the bottom of the waterfall.

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The waterfalls are located at the bottom of the Chedoke Stairs.   There are two waterfalls that meet near the bottom of the ravine and share a lower falls.  The Lower Cliffview Falls are on the left and Lower Westcliffe Falls on the right.

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Westcliffe Falls is a 15-metre complex ribbon falls that is mostly hidden from the regular trails in the area.  However, you can climb past the lower falls and from there it is a short, easy climb to the main falls.  It is located in the ravine on the right above the combined lower falls.

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Cliffview Falls is 15 metres tall and is a terraced ribbon falls.  Both of these waterfalls are nice in spite of the low flow of water.  In the spring when the water is at its peak flow they are both likely to be quite spectacular, with Westcliffe being the more interesting of the two.

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Having climbed up the ravine to view the two sets of falls we returned to the car having fully enjoyed the day.

Further reading about local attractions near Chedoke Ski Hill:

Escarpment Stairs, Mountain Sanatorium, Chedoke Rail Trail

Google Maps Link: Chedoke Stairs 

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Wexford – Ghost Towns of the GTA

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The community of Wexford got its start around 1840 at the intersection of present day Lawrence Avenue and Pharmacy Avenue.  Richard Sylvester had arrived from Wexford County in Ireland and built The Rising Sun Inn on the south west corner of the intersection.  This became the nucleus for a small farming hamlet known as Hough’s Corners.  In 1865 Sylvester added a post office which he named Wexford after his home.  The community served the local farmers for the next 100 years with growth and little change.  After the Second World War, Toronto expanded rapidly and by the 1950’s the farms around Wexford fell to developers.  The little community has been lost with the exception of a couple of churches and a few homes.  These I have marked on the 1877 county atlas shown below.

Wexford map (2)

After meeting in homes for several years the Anglicans of Wexford decided to build a permanent church building.  They built St. Jude’s Church in 1848 on a small parcel of land that had been donated for the church.  It already included a family cemetery plot that would become the church plot.  The 20 foot by 20 foot church has seating for 60 and is the smallest purpose built church in the GTA.  The pews are small and it was described as seating for a “tight four” people.  The church originally had no basement and was heated by a pot-bellied stove but a basement was dug for a furnace in 1929.  Like the town, the church remained small and unchanged for a hundred years,  With the sudden growth of the surrounding community the membership jumped from 79 in 1950 to 1,000 families in 1958.  With this growth came a new church building in 1953 on the south east corner of the lot.  The little church has since been used by several small congregations who have contributed to the upkeep and restoration of the building over the years.  Many of the early pioneering families are interred in the cemetery around the church.

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In 1842 a small wood chapel was built by the Primitive Methodist congregation.  They used the church until 1877 when it was replaced with the large brick building that stands beside the pioneer cemetery,

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In 1925 they joined with the United Church of Canada but growth still remained slow.  It didn’t take off until the 1950’s when the area was built up.  Then the church decided to add two pieces between 1950 and 1960.  This summer the church closed after years of declining attendance.  Around the area there are several other churches who all seem to be doing okay.

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Wexford had all the amenities of a rural farming town including a blacksmith, a hotel and a post office in the general store.  The photo below was taken from the Toronto Public Library collection and is dated 1960.  This was taken just before the 1883 building was demolished to make room to widen Lawrence Avenue.

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Just to the west along Lawrence Avenue stood a small industrial complex where some of the locals found employment.  Milneford Mills contained a woolen mill, dry goods store and wagon shop.  Milne House was built in 1871 and is one of the oldest examples of gothic frame architecture in the city.  The front porch which used to look out over the mills has been removed.  Now abandoned, it is intended to be restored eventually.

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The house at 37 Kecalard originally fronted onto Kennedy Road but has been swallowed up by the surrounding subdivision.  This house was built by John Patterson in 1858 and stood on his farm for the next century in isolation.  Today, it is a house in a subdivision that faces sideways to the rest of the home because it doesn’t align with the new street pattern.

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12 Iondale Place hides another historic house on a quiet street of cookie-cutter homes.  This house and the converted drive shed are also on the county atlas featured above as belonging to John Ionson in 1877.

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1369 Warden Ave is known as the Richardson House and it is another one of the homes seen on the county atlas. It has been given an historic designation as have all of the buildings featured in this post.  It stands among a street full of single story war time housing units.

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There is an abandoned rail spur that runs along the side of the cemetery at the Wexford Zion Church.  I chose to follow it a ways north to see where it went to.  I had previously explored the southern section as it followed the Underwriter’s Reach of Taylor Massey Creek.  This northern section ran for a kilometre north until it was buried beneath the parking lot for Costco.  A high fence kept me from investigation further.

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The spur line has only been abandoned for a short while but nature doesn’t care.  This section of pavement was likely a parking area but the trees have taken over pretty quickly.

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A black squirrel was trying to get away from me and ran up the side of this building.  When he got to the top he discovered that he couldn’t get a gy.rip on the flashing along the top.  After a couple of attempts I chose to wander along so he could come down safely.

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60 Rowena Drive was home to the estate of the O’Connor Family who had invented Laura Secord Chocolates.  There’s a complete story on the candy as well as the home and it can be found here: O’Connor Estate.

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Wexford is only represented by a few scattered historic buildings but they are worth the effort to go investigate.

Google Maps Link: Wexford

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Emery Creek

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Long before the arrival of Europeans, the local peoples used The Carrying Place Trail north along the Humber River.  They crossed a pristine Emery Creek near today’s Finch Avenue and Weston Road intersection.  In the 1950s this area was built into an industrial park and the creek was buried in a concrete pipe.  Unfortunately the creek came to carry industrial contamination which included lead, zinc and copper.  During large rain events sewage was also carried directly into the Humber River.  A recent project to improve the water quality is the result of over twenty years of work by local environmental and residential groups.  We decided to investigate the results and so we took advantage of parking at Habitant Arena from which we set off on the west side of Weston Road.

Eastern Red Cedar have a three year cycle.  Their fruit begins as a flower in the first year.  It then turns into a green berry for the second year and ripens into a blue berry in year three.  The berries are harvested and dried after which they turn black.  They are used as a spice and high in vitamin C.  They may also help fight cancer because they are high in antioxidants and flavoniods.

 

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North of Finch Avenue the headwaters of Emery Creek are buried under the industrial sprawl that became its poisoning.  Once it flows under Finch it passes behind a four tower residential complex before emerging back into daylight.  Emery Creek briefly flows in a naturalized watercourse before it reaches the storm water management ponds.

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Milkweed seeds are blowing in the wind.  The little parachute that carries the actual seed is known as the pappus.  When attempting to grow milkweed on your property as an aid to monarch butterflies it is recommended that this part be removed.  You can then disperse them on some gently disturbed soil without fear of them blowing away on you before they germinate.

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The health of a river begins in the tributaries and so a $14 million dollar project was devised to use natural processes to remove and contain the main pollutants from Emery Creek.  Starting in March 2016 three storm water management ponds were constructed beside Emery Creek.  The plan is to clean the water before it is discharged into the Humber River.  The first pond is designed for sedimentation and the bulk of solid particles are removed here.  The water then flows through a short pipe into a shallow pond where the remaining heavy metals are removed.  The third pond is the biggest one and the fine particles are removed here before water is discharged through a pipe into the Humber River somewhat upstream from the original confluence of the two.  The concrete weir that diverts the waters of Emery Creek into the first pond was cast in place but includes a wooden section that allows for moderation of the water flowing into the ponds.

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In spite of the fact that it is mid-November the water in the three ponds had frozen over.  There are sometimes interesting patterns in the ice and these can take the shape of a circle.  Ice circles form in slow moving water as it reaches freezing temperature.  They usually occur where there is a bend in the water flow that causes an eddy.  The water on the surface continues to move in the direction of the eddy as it freezes and this causes the ice circle.

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If the rotational shear force is great enough the ice circles can cut away from the surrounding ice and form ice discs.  These discs have been observed as large as 50 feet in diameter.  The new ponds on Emery Creek have set up the slow moving water patterns to allow for sedimentation of solids in the water before it is discharged into the Humber River.  This appears to have also set up the ideal conditions for ice circles to form.  This one below looks like someone was getting ready for a faceoff in a hockey game.

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The Humber River was in the process of slushing over with ice forming along the edges where the water is moving slowly or sitting in pools.

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Not everyone is willing to hang around and look for food when they require open water to dig for water plants..  Most of the Canada Geese have formed into skeins and flow for easier foraging grounds.  A group of geese in flight is also known as a team because they place the weakest ones behind the rest to take advantage of the air currents generated by the ones in front.

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The ponds and trails around them were pretty quiet this morning but are perhaps enjoyed a little more in the summer sunshine.

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Someone has thrown the life preserving equipment into the pond where it is now frozen in place.

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Not all robins migrate south for the winter and seeing them in the colder months is becoming more common.  Robins move around in response to food rather than temperature.  Birds that move south follow their ability to collect worms and other insects for food.   In the winter robins switch their diet to fruit and the bulk of them move to places where there are sufficient berries for everyone.  The ones that stay behind move around as the sources diminish in each area.

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This view from Google Earth shows the area as the area looked in 2002.  Emery Creek flows into the Humber River from the right hand side of the image.  In its original creek bed the watercourse followed the southern embankment of a much wider ravine.

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By 2019 Google Earth is showing a greatly altered geography.  The creek has been diverted through the three new ponds and now enters the river farther north.  The old creek still has a minimal flow of water that gets over the diversion dam and keeps it from becoming stagnant.  The abandoned portion of the old creek has been coloured in orange.

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From the opposite side of the Humber River we were able to locate the original mouth of Emery Creek.  The water coming out of here is moving very slowly compared to the main river and you can see a line of ice forming across the mouth of Emery Creek.

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The engineering work has paid off in that the water that enters the Humber River is a lot cleaner than it was before.   Given time, the new ponds will become home to their own ecosystems and the disruptions will be a thing of the past.

Google Maps Link: Emery Creek

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Hornby – Ghost Towns of the GTA

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Beginning in the 1830s the area north of Oakville was opened for settlement and the community of Hornby found itself becoming an important stop on the trip into town.  Hotels were opened and in 1850 Trafalgar Road (7th Line) was planked as far north as Stewarttown with a toll station in Hornby.  However, by 1877 the railway had bypassed the town and Milton had been named as county seat.  Hornby began to decline back to a county village.  Today there isn’t much of the community that was named after Hornby Castle in Yorkshire but we went to see what could be found and photographed before it  disappears forever.

Hornby became stretched out along what is now Steeles Avenue to the point where it was referred to as Hornby and West Hornby.  Two cemeteries mark the eastern site of Hornby.  The Methodist church was originally located on Lot 1 Concession 8 on the corner of the William McKindsey lot.  On April 30, 1832 the land was sold to the Methodist Trustees.  The land actually belonged to Kings College until 1840 and so the indenture wasn’t registered until 1842.  The congregation built a small frame church and began a cemetery beside the church.  They soon outgrew the frame church and moved to a new location leaving the cemetery behind.  It has since been restored with the markers being gathered into a central location for preservation.

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in 1856 the Wesleyan Methodist congregation built a new brick building a little farther west.  This brick building was part of a preaching circuit that included Bowers, Munns, McCurdy’s, Omagh and Bethel.  In 1925 the Methodists and Presbyterians joined to become The United Church of Canada.  This building served the congregation until November 17, 1968 when it was closed and the parishioners joined with the Ashgrove United Church.  Since then the building has been used as the Hornby Townhall.  The spire with finial was built by Gordon Brigden at his machine shop in Hornby.

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The first church built by the Presbyterian Church in Hornby was a frame structure constructed in 1835 across the street from the Wesleyan Methodist Church on Lot 1 Concession 9.  Many of the founding settlers of Hornby are interred here and the cemetery remains active today.  The original frame church was replaced in 1878 with a brick structure.  The congregation did not choose to join the United Church and remained active until 1971 when it was amalgamated with Knox Presbyterian in Milton.  The church building was destroyed by fire in 1978 and arson was suspected but never proven.

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The first school building in Hornby was in a log cabin built in 1826.  It was replaced with a new brick building in 1870.  It operated as a school until 1963 when Pineview school was built on 5th sideroad.

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Samuel Brooks owned this one and a half story farm house in 1878.  The property changed hands several times until Frank Chisholm farmed the property through the middle of the twentieth century.  There have been multiple additions to the house over the years.  By the time it was assessed for cultural heritage in 2018 the structure was deteriorating and there was damage to the roof that had been covered over with plastic.

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There has been a fire at the home since then and there is little doubt that the structure will be demolished for safety reasons.  As of our visit the back door was open providing access to a very unsafe structure.  It will likely be removed for safety reasons.

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The drive shed on the property is in similar condition and the former farm will likely soon fall prey to the urban expansion that is spreading along Steeles Avenue.

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We had parked on Trafalgar Road where there is an entrance to the Halton County Forest.  After making our way through town and back up Hornby Road it was time to cut back through the forest to the car.  There is a cairn commemorating John Coulson who owned the property and bequeathed it to the county for reforestation.  The 89 acre tract was planted with white pine in 1959 and left to regenerate.

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A summers worth of growth goes into producing seed pods to carry on the family line.  The wild cucumbers have produced their edible seed pods, each one containing four seeds.  In the next few weeks the bottom of each seed pod will open up and drop the seeds to the ground below.

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River grapes have also come along nicely this year.  These wild grapes have been bred into our table grapes to help produce a strain that is resistant to our climate.  These grapes can be turned into a tasty grape jelly.

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We followed Trafalgar Creek part way through the Coulson Tract and came across a cluster of asparagus that has no leaves but there are still many seeds on it.

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There are still several early twentieth century homes and farms in the Hornby area. but the former community is in danger of being over run by urban sprawl.

Google Maps link: Hornby

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Anewen Greenbelt

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The East Don River is in the process of having a trail developed along the length of the river.  The East Don Trail is incomplete but has been constructed along some sections of the river.  The formal trail runs south from Lawrence Avenue through the Charles Sauriol Conservation Area.  We parked on Ruscica Drive and entered the greenbelt using the catwalk and stairs located there.

We followed the trail through a short ravine and into an open field where there are several options for trails.  We chose to begin with the trail on the west end of the field.  It wasn’t long before a small Downey Woodpecker arrived and began to put on a show for us.  The male has two small spots of red on the back of the head which the female lacks.

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People who have properties that back onto ravines often create their own private access to the park systems.  This is most often done using wooden stairs but sometimes we see elaborate sets of stone steps laid up the sides of the ravine.

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The north trail leads toward Milne Hollow where the old Milne Homestead stands empty but protected from vandals while it awaits potential restoration.  The old Don Valley Ski Club has become over-run but you can read about that park at Milneford Mills.  As you go north along the river you come to a place where you can see a new bridge through the trees.

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The East Don River winds back and forth through the park and two new bridges are being installed to carry the trail.  Construction of the permanent bridges requires the use of heavy equipment which has been brought to the site using a temporary bailey bridge.

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The East Don Trail is being extended through the park following what appears to be an old access road that was hidden in the new growth forest.  This section of the park used to be limited to a couple of seldom used trails and I frequently saw the resident deer here.  I wonder where they have moved to.

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The width and the depth of the ravine are sometimes much higher than the current size of the river could have cut.  During the melting phase of the most recent ice age 12,000 years ago the river was a raging torrent.  Erosion is ongoing in many places and the trail is often under cut where the sand has fallen away below the roots of the trees that line the crest.  These areas it is important to keep well back from the edge.

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The view up river from the top of the ravine is quite nice and provides an opportunity to envision yourself out in the country rather than just a few kilometres from downtown Toronto.  This little greenbelt is a well kept secret as there is seldom very many people using the park at any point in time.  This will change when there recreational trail is complete and it is easy for people to access the park or to pass through on part of a longer hike or ride.

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Active railway tracks divide the park in two and the picture below shows the rail bridge over the East Don River.

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Purple Bloom Russula was growing in large clusters in the woods.  This mushroom is considered good to eat but like all plants we recommend that you don’t harvest from our parks.

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The trail isn’t complete under Eglinton Avenue and so at the present you have to cross the road at surface level.  Please be careful or walk to the corner and cross at the lights.  At one time there was an extensive network of bike trails through this section of the woods but it has been left to fall into disrepair.  Large sections of it looked quite unsafe for either bike or pedestrian.

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A short walk brings you to the remains of Old Eglinton Avenue which no longer extends to the bottom of the ravine.

Google Maps Link: Anewen Greenbelt

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