Queen’s Park

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The land that we know as Queen’s Park actually belongs the The University of Toronto and the name is often used to mean the Ontario Legislative Buildings which occupy the centre of the park.  The City of Toronto has leased the land from the university for 999 years at the rate of $1.00 per year.  The grounds to the north and south of the buildings contain many statues and other historic artifacts as well as providing green space for local residents to enjoy.  The park grounds have also served as a place for peaceful protesting over the years,  I decided to walk around the park and enjoy the statues and information plaques as well as the interesting architecture of the legislative buildings.

King Edward VII ruled from the time of Queen Victoria’s death in 1901 until he died in 1910.  The statue of Edward on his horse was originally located in India but when the Indian Government decided to get rid of symbols of British rule they elected to give it to Toronto.  Edward had visited Toronto in 1860 as the Prince of Wales and had officially opened Queen’s Park.  In 1969 it was installed in the north end of Queen’s Park.  Due to restorations the north end of the park is currently closed except for the major pathways.  It isn’t possible to get close enough to the statue to read the inscriptions.


The picture below is from the Toronto Archives and shows the building as it looked in 1903.  The three front arches over the main entrance would be featured on the front cover of the album Moving Pictures by Rush.

Parliament Buildings, Queen's Park

When the legislative assembly buildings were designed there was intended to be a clock in the tower on the left side of the main entrance.  The clock turned out to be more expensive than planned and the funding was withdrawn.  The end result was a pair of ornate round windows.


Sitting on the south lawn of Queen’s Park is a pair of cannons that were captured during the Crimean War.  The war was fought over the rights of the Christian minority in the Holy Lands which was under the control of the Ottoman Empire.  The war lasted from 1853 to 1856 with the British and French supporting the Ottoman Empire against Russia.  The two cannons were sent to Toronto in 1859 as a gift from Queen Victoria.  Many of the captured cannons were melted down to make Victoria Cross medals for heroic soldiers.


Oliver Mowat was the third premier of Ontario, a position that he held for nearly 24 years.  Mowat was the premier from 1872 until 1896 which included the period of time that the legislative assembly buildings were under construction.  He was the first person to sit as premier in this building.  Mowat was also one of the Fathers of Confederation and as a Liberal was a political rival of Sir John A MacDonald.  This monument has stood near the front entrance since 1905.


Carvings adorn the building and all sorts of fanciful gargoyles can be found as you walk around the structures.  Some of them are funny, some are lifelike while others are a little on the macabre side of things.  This image shows how painful it can be to have your head eaten by a demon.


In other cases the faces are very lifelike.  It is speculated that since the stone masons were not allowed to sign their work they may have decided to include an image of themselves.  If this is true then the four faces near the front entrance may reveal the identity of some of the men who spent countless hours carving the tons of stones that make up the building.


There is also a suggestion that the face on the east side of the building may be a parody of Queen Victoria.


Carvings of dragons and lions are found all around the exterior of the building.


On the east lawn of the legislature is a maple tree that was planted on November 14, 1968.  It represents the one billionth forest tree seedling that was distributed from the Ontario Government Nurseries since the program had begun in 1909.  Ontario has provided incentives to farmers to turn their unused lands back into forest.  This is one of the main reasons that you will find fences running through the forest.  They mark previous field divisions.   In 2008 the Ontario Government began a program they called 50 Million Trees which has seen over 27 million trees planted to date.  In reversal of a 110 year history of planting trees, the Ontario Government recently cancelled the 50 Million Tree program.


Queen’s Park has been used for the provincial seat of government for the Province of Ontario where a beautiful building stands in the middle of a beautiful park in downtown Toronto.  It is certainly an interesting place to wander around.

Google Maps Link: Queen’s Park

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The Bruce Trail – Waterdown

Saturday, June 1, 2019

We had previously visited the falls in Waterdown in the winter and decided to return to see what the summer was like on the local trails.  There is free parking right beside the waterfalls which have gone by several names over the years including The Great Falls, and Grindstone Falls.  Our earlier story featured slackliners walking across the gorge above the falls and we called it Slacking in Smokey Hollow.  We followed Grindstone Creek downstream until we came to the Norman Pearson Side Trail.  This connects to the McNally Side Trail and returns you to the main trail.  There is an additional little side trail called the Upper Grindstone Side Trail that was part of the package.

Image-1 (6)

The Smokey Hollow Side Trail is only 50 metres long and connects the main trail to a viewing platform for Grindstone Falls.  The platform can be seen in the picture below and it provides an interesting view of the crest of the falls.  The Bruce Trail follows Grindstone Creek and has a set of stairs built into the side of the ravine to allow easier descent.  From the bottom a short trail leads back toward the bottom of the falls but be careful, we witnessed a guy showing off for his girlfriend who fell into the creek and got completely soaked.  If he would have been injured he’d have required a complicated rescue.


From there we followed the main trail along side Grindstone Creek.  This trail gives plenty of great views of the creek as it cascades over the large chunks of dolomite that have been eroded over the past 12,000 years since the last ice age retreated.


When you reach more level ground you can depart from the main trail onto the Norman Pearson Side Trail.  This 1.4 kilometre blue trail will bring you out to Waterdown Road where you can connect with the McNally Side Trail.  Both of these side trails are marked with blue blazes on the trees.  There’s also a couple of places where the trail is ablaze with blue from forget-me-nots.


Lily of the valley is a highly poisonous plant that is native to Asia and Europe and has been introduced to North America as a garden plant.  It does well and can grow into large clusters under the right conditions.  The scent of the flower has been imitated for perfume and Kate Middleton carried lily of the valley in her bridal bouquet when she married Prince William.


The Mayapples are finally in bloom with a single flower on each fertile plant.  These flowers will close up in a few days and begin to develop into the fruit.  The fruit will turn yellow when it ripens later in the summer.


Near Waterdown there is a Bitternut Hickory tree that is estimated to be 128 years old and has a lifespan of 200 years.  It produces a large amount of very bitter tasting nuts that even the squirrels will only eat during food shortages.  There are 16 Bruce Trail heritage trees that have been identified along the route.  Their GPS locations can be found at this link.


The properties that the trail runs through are mostly private farms and access is allowed by the good graces of the land owner.  Some of the land grants were poor farming land and have been allowed to return to forest.  Other areas are still operated as family farms, some of them into the fourth and fifth generations.  Many of these farmers still have old farm implements from their father or grandfather.  Somehow the seat on the old plow below doesn’t look very comfortable nor do the steel studded wheels look like they absorb much shock.


The McNally Side Trail is only 0.48 kilometres long and brings you back to the main trail above Waterdown.  The Upper Grindstone Side Trail follows a lightly used path through a grassy field and back into the forest.  When you come to the little loop you can go left and down to the creek or you can go to the right and climb higher onto the ridge before descending to creek level.  It will then return you to the main trail very near to the parking lot.  Evidence of a former dam at the top of the falls is a reminder of the industrial past of this site.  Hidden among the trees on both sides of the creek are other traces of previous buildings, just waiting to be discovered and explored.


This set of side trails along with the accompanying main trail make for an interesting loop which has the equivalent of 41 flights of stairs as it goes up and down the sides of the ravine.

Google Maps Link:  Great Falls Smokey Hollow

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The John Charlton House

Monday, June 6, 2019

Situated at 220 Charlton Avenue is a very unique house in a subdivision of cookie cutter homes built in the late 1980’s.  The John Charlton House faces the wrong way on the street as the lane way was formerly known as 7281 Dufferin Street or Lot 2, Concession 2 in the Town of Vaughan.  It was placed on the historic register as having been built in 1861.  As this house is situated between my workplace and Swiss Chalet, I decided to stop and get some pictures to record this small part of the local history.  The 1877 county atlas shows the estate as just above the Presbyterian Church from the ghost town of Fisherville.

Charlton Estate

A large front porch was added in the 1940’s which radically changed the story and a half house.  It looks a little overwhelming on the front of the house.


The rear of the house has three doors, two of which share a common lintel.  There is also a tiny window just below the roof which likely marks the top of the hallway.  In a modern house this would often be a washroom window but this house likely didn’t have indoor plumbing when it was built.  An outhouse would have served the family needs.


A large fireplace is located on the west face of the house.  The quoins are made of a lighter colour brick as is the stretcher course along the top of the first story.


The front of the house shows the three bay construction.  A single window faces Dufferin Street from the second floor.


The porch was added with a curved ceiling so as to allow light to still get into the upper window.  Below the window a line in the brickwork reveals an earlier, smaller, front porch.  The four panel door detailing is repeated in the panels on either side of the door.  The transom window above the door also has fine detail in the glass.  These are some of the details that have led to the preservation of this house.


The historic designation suggests that there may be a date in the white circle under the east gable that is covered over with paint.  Upon closer examination I suggest there is no date and no paint either.  There is a a series of three short horizontal lines bisected by a vertical line up the middle.  This is most likely a signature of the builder.  In the same document there is belief that the builder was Isaac Hafenbrach who built the Octagonal Barn on Lot 1 Concession 3.  That barn was disassembled in 1978 and moved to the Country Heritage Park in Milton.


Throughout the GTA there are too few of these old houses that survived from our pioneer era.  Some are moved into strip mall parking lots and repurposed while others get to remain on their original sites.

Google Maps link: Charlton House

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Downsview – Ghost Towns of the GTA

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The intersection of Keele Street and Wilson Avenue was home to the community of Downsview although most of the original settlement has been erased through road widening and urban sprawl.  The name has become attached to the de Havilland Aircraft plant and later the Downsview Air Force Base that came to the northern edge of town in 1928.  The 1878 county atlas below shows the five remaining points that we set out to visit. Starting at the bottom with John Perkins Bull who named his home Downs View because it was on the high point of some flat land, leading to the name of the community.  The local flat land would attract the aircraft industry to the area.

Downsview 1878 map revised

John Perkins Bull was born in Toronto on April 30, 1822 and when he turned twenty he received Lot 8, Concession 4 from his father as a coming of age gift.  He immediately started clearing some of his 200 acres and in 1844 built the house that he named Downs View.  Bull took on the nick name Squire after he served as Justice of the Peace, served as Deputy-Reeve, was prominent in promoting the agricultural welfare of the area.  He was also an active and influential member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church which originally met in his home.  Squire Bull didn’t like the commute on those early roads which were either a muddy disaster or were plank roads with tolls on them.  See the upper right corner of the map for the Dufferin and Sheppard toll gate and click on this link for more information.  Squire Bull decided to work from home and often had to lock up the guilty in the basement of the house.  He married twice and was father to three boys and three girls who grew up in this house.


This picture of the house is from the Toronto Library and is dated 1955.  This is before rapid development took the house out of the country and planted it in the middle of a subdivision.  Before long it would become a retirement home as it remains today.

Perkins Bull House 1955

The Downsview United Church began as a Wesleyan Methodist Church around 1830.  By 1844 services were being held in the home above where they continued until the first frame church was constructed around 1850.  It was replaced with the current brick Gothic Revival church in 1870.  A small addition was made on the chancel in 1882.  From the side you can see the other major additions.  A Sunday School was added in 1937 where you can see the section with the lower roof.  A Christian Education Wing was added at the back in 1955 and the original spire was replaced after it was damaged in a storm.  The building has just completed a restoration and is the most recognizable building in the former community.


The George Jackson House was built some time after 1885 when he inherited the property from his father.  The Jackson family owned the property from 1830 until 1967.  The house was briefly used as a nursing home before being converted to professional offices in 1981.


This is one of only three heritage buildings left from the community with the other two presented above.   The Jackson house was designated, in part, because of the basket weave brickwork pattern under the steep gables.  This mixing of Queen Anne with Romanesque styles was popular in the late 1880’s.


This 1976 aerial photograph of Downsview Airforce Base shows the Edward Boake House before it was demolished.  It was built in 1860 by Edward and Sarah Boakes who called it Locust Lodge.  It remained in the family for generations until it was expropriated by the Air Force who already owned the family farm surrounding it.  On the left side of the picture you can also see the officer’s housing known as William Baker Park.  It has also been demolished.  In front of the Boake house is a double row of trees which are the only mature trees in the immediate area.

Boake House

These are the trees that the Boake family looked out upon from their windows.  Today they stand in an area known as Boakes Grove where no grove has stood for 150 years.


Downsview Park has done a great job of planting trees that will one day form a mature forest in this part of the park.  This trail runs roughly along the former fence line that separated the house from the fields of the family farm.  The park has also installed a new multi panel interpretive centre near this site to explain the history of the area.  Unfortunately they chose to etch the information into stainless steel plates that were quite hard to read with the sun on them.  They do contain a wealth of information that is worth the time to read on a cloudy day.


In 1954 a local group decided that a synagogue and Jewish school were needed in the area and before long had a potential congregation of 200 families signed up.  The property that belonged to Fred Mowatt at the time of the county atlas had now become the Ness Estate and it was purchased for $35,000 to serve as their synagogue.  The picture below shows the home in 1956 as the Conservative Beth Am Synagogue.

Downsview synagog

The farmhouse was integrated into a new building and the congregation made several further expansions including the large front building in 1965.  By the mid-1970’s the congregation was shrinking as the area of Bathurst Street became a larger Jewish community.  In 1977 the last 228 families decided to close the synagogue and merge with the Beth David B’nai Israel congregation on Bathurst.  The ceremonial transfer of the Torah from Beth Am Synagogue took place on January 28, 1978.  The Rameses Shriners used the building next and it appears that during 1984 or so the original house was either demolished or reduced to a single floor.  Today the building serves as a sales centre for a 12-story condo development called The Keeley that will soon replace it.  There was a brief attempt to designate the building as an example of modernist architecture, mainly because of the front entrance to the 1965 addition.  A 45-foot mural had remained across the front of the building that was specifically created for the synagogue but this was moved to the Beth David Synagogue in 2013.


That effort failed and this week a sod turning ceremony was held in front of the building.  Which means that as soon as the developers get the demolition permit the building will be gone.  What I’d like to know, based on reviewing a couple dozen annual aerial photos of the site is this.  What lies behind this door and is it a Shiner addition or was it put on the original house by the synagogue?  Is there still part of the original farmhouse inside the building?  As I work close by, I hope to see for myself if I can.


The former town of Downsview still has a few traces left in spite of the rapid development of the area in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Google Maps Link: Downsview

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Chalmer’s Milling Co.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Dawes Road in Toronto has an unusual piece of history in the form of a grain elevator.  While grain elevators were common a hundred years ago, very few still survive.  With a new proposal put before the city in March to develop the site for two condo towers it seemed like a good time to photograph it before the developers arrive.  The picture below is an aerial photograph from 1968 which shows the mill circled in yellow.  Danforth Avenue runs across the top of the clip while Dawes Road runs on a slight angle as far as the former Grand Trunk Railway tracks to the south.


When it comes to research on the internet it is easy to find conflicting information.  Construction dates range to as early as the 1850s with 1890 also being a prominent date.  The city’s land use maps suggest 1906.  The land developers have to present a historic context in their proposals and they also claim it to be a 1906 wooden crib grain elevator and feed mill.  The use of construction materials would suggest that the 1906 date is correct as the first-floor cement would not have come into popular use until after 1900.


The mill was operated under at least two names starting with Chalmer’s Milling Company which is listed in the 1920 Federal Register of Mills in Canada.  The register wasn’t published every year but Chalmer’s appears in it until the 1948 edition.  After that, the next edition is 1954 and it shows Elizabeth Flour and Feed Mill Co. at this site.  Two years later there is no operating mill listed here nor was there again up until 1972 when the registry was discontinued.    The upper floors were divided up into 9 silos for different feed grains.  These were brought in through the front door and lifted to the upper floor by means of the elevator in the corner.


The sign on the side of the building is badly faded but it provides a clue as to what was in the nine silos.  It reads: We carry complete lines for racing pigeons, budgies and other birds. Best mixtures available. Racehorses, dogs, all other animals. Grits, Gravels, Flax


The inside of the grain elevator may look something like the elevator at Roblin’s Mill in Black Creek Pioneer Village where the following picture was taken.  The belt and cups were used to move flour and grain from one floor to another.


Two condo towers are proposed for the site 26 and 33 stories.  The grain elevator will be retained and given to the city as a public asset within the parklands that will surround the site.


Chalmers Milling Company was listed in the 1947 directory of flour mills as producing 60 barrels of flour per day.  The brick structure that housed the grinding rollers is currently divided into three rental residential units.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to have the historic designation of the grain elevator beside it and isn’t likely to get one.  The two story former flour and grist mill will be demolished to make way for the new condo towers as will three buildings to the north of the site.


The image below is from the development submission to the city and shows the old grain elevator looking insignificant beside the 33-story tower.

chalmers condos

On the positive note, at least the grain elevator will survive as a cultural arts centre.  I wonder what kind of interpretive signs will be installed, if any.

Google Maps Link: 10 Dawes Road

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The Crows Nest Side Trail

May 18, 2019

The Forks of the Credit has a lot of interesting history, much of which can be easily accessed from The Bruce Trail or one of several side trails in the area.  Parking is very limited along the side of Forks of the Credit Road near Dominion Street.  Our intention was to cover both the Trimble Side Trail and the Crow’s Nest Side Trail as well as having another look at the Stonecutter’s Dam.  The map below comes from the Belfountain Conservation Area Management Plan and shows the Trimble Trail in brown and the Crow’s Nest Trail in Blue.  It also shows the location of many of the historical features of the Willoughby Property.


We saw several people going down the road on skateboards with a vehicle following them to take them back to the top for another joy ride down the hill and around the hairpin turn.  The Trimble Trail enters the Willoughby Property beside the river.  There is a great deal of local history on the property which had been explored and described in our previous post called Stonecutter’s Dam.  Therefore we won’t go into much of that detail again here.  From the vantage of the trail you can see the curving trestle of the Credit Valley Railway that was instrumental in developing the market for the sandstone that was being quarried in this area.  We looked at that trestle and an old lime kiln ring in our post on The Devil’s Pulpit.


One of the ways to tell a Downey Woodpecker from the slightly larger Hairy Woodpecker is by the size of their bill.  A Downey Woodpecker bill is small and thin and only about half as long as the head of the bird.  The Hairy Woodpecker has a thicker bill that is at least as long as its head.  The Downey pictured below is a female bird as it lacks the characteristic red marking on the head that is unique to the male.


Jack-in-the-pulpit is one of the longest lived perennial plants as the corm can survive for up to 100 years.  The plant contains oxides in the form of raphides that cause a burning sensation if ingested.  Under magnification they resemble tiny shards of glass.  One folklore tale suggest certain native people would poison meat with the cut up corm of the plant and leave it for their enemies to find and consume.



At one time there were literally hundreds of dams strung across the rivers and creeks in the GTA.  Early ones were often wood cribs filled with rocks and required annual repairs that were often quite dangerous.  Earthen berms were built across the floodplains and later concrete dams were constructed.  Through disasters like Hurricane Hazel and then flood control projects most of these have been removed.  Perhaps the oldest surviving dam is a masonry one on the West Credit River that has come to be known as The Stonecutter’s Dam.  The area was known for quarries and this resource was put to good use here as this bit of workmanship has outlasted many newer dams.


The penstock was also made of blocks of cut stone and has been churning away for decades since it last supplied power to a local industry.  There remains no plans to restore this dam and it has become inaccessible due to erosion along the end.  It is now posted to keep people from finding their way onto it.  More pictures of the dam can be seen in our earlier post The Stonecutter’s Dam.



The Crow’s Nest Side Trail is a 1.1 kilometre loop that takes you around some test pits from the old quarry but avoids the original site.  It leads off the Trimble Trail on a boardwalk but soon turns into a dirt path.


Dryad’s Saddle can grow to be up to 12 inches across and can be found from May until about November.  They are considered edible and we found places where people had recently harvested them.  Also known as Pheasant’s Back the soft edge parts of the cap can be sauteed and eaten.


The trails were remarkably empty considering how nice the day was.  That is usually a good thing if you are hoping to see the local wildlife.  The Trimble Trail had people coming and going from the conservation area but the Crows Nest Trail was deserted.


A fence line separates the Crows Nest Trail from a steep drop onto Forks of the Credit Road.  In many places this fence has become secured to the trees which have grown around it.  The picture below shows one of the trees with a fence roughly in the middle of the tree.


There were white trilliums scattered throughout the woods but the red ones were somewhat more elusive.  Finally we came across a large patch of them as we approached Belfountain Conservation Area.  The red trillium does not have any nectar and so isn’t pollinated by the same assortment of bees and insects that visit the white ones.  They rely on flies that are attracted by the smell of rotting meat that is given ff by the leaves.  On close inspection the six stamen in the centre of the flower are different to the nectar bearing ones on the white flowers.


We checked out a small trail beside the bridge and found that it led to an apiary.  With our bee colonies in severe decline we decided not to interfere in any way.  Although the trail may have gone further we didn’t.  Instead we made our way back to the car.


The Willoughby Property is interesting because of the wealth of history that it holds.  It is the type of place that you can still find new things with subsequent visits.

Google Maps Link: Crow’s Nest Trail

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Rouge National Urban Park – Beare Hill Park

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The City of Toronto has begun the process of transforming the former 75-hectare Beare Road Landfill into Beare Hill Park.  The original plan for the landfill when it opened in 1967 called for rehabilitation as a park when the landfill was closed.  We wanted to see if there were any signs of activity at the site and to explore some trails we hadn’t been to in the adjacent Rouge National Urban Park.  We returned to the free parking on Twyn Rivers Drive from where we had previously explored The Mast Trail.

We crossed the road into Celebration Forest where there is a ring of benches and a sign that recognizes people who were instrumental in creating Canada’s first National Urban Park.  Mayapples were growing in a large colony that is quite easy to spot at this time of the year.  The plants grow from rhizomes and spread over a fairly large area.  Only some plants produce the single flower that turns into the “apple”.  Sterile plants have a single leaf and produce no flower while the plants that do flower will have two leaves.  The flower and fruit are produced between the two leaves.  The flowering plants were just opening their leaves while the sterile ones were well advanced.


Black Morels are one of the first fungi to emerge in the spring.  They can be found in May in Ontario and are considered to be a choice edible.  True morels are hollow and are attached to the stalk at the base.  If you cut into the cap and find that it has the stalk attached at the top it could be a false morel and shouldn’t be eaten.  This was the only example we noticed and we would never suggest anyone harvest anything when there is just a single specimen.


The eastern garter snake can be hard to distinguish from other similar looking snakes.  The butler’s garter snake, red-sided garter snake and northern ribbon snake all look similar.  The ribbon snake will have smooth lines to the stripes while the garter snake will have a checkered pattern.  The eastern garter snake has a yellow chin and belly but the rest of the colouring can be quite varied.  Garter snakes give live birth to between 4 and 80 babies in late July to early October.   They have a life expectancy of about ten years and can grow up to 1.5 metres long.


Some of the trails were still a little muddy and a few of the side trails were almost impassable.


The trillium is Ontario’s official flower and many people believe that it is illegal to pick them.  That actually isn’t true although a recent bill in the legislature would have made it punishable with a $500 fine.  It is probably a good thing that people think it is illegal because it is so damaging to the plant.  Trilliums grow slowly and can take between 7 and 11 years to produce their first flower.  After that they will flower every year until they reach the end of their lifespan of about 20 years.  If you pick the flower and three leaves around it the plant loses the ability to supply nutrient to the underground stem and the plant will die.


The access road for the former Beare Road Landfill is now closed except for service vehicles and park users.  The road leads from this point back to the parking area near the park visitor centre.  The former Pearce House now serves as the visitor centre and is the starting point for our previous exploration of the Vista Trail.


The Beare Road Landfill was allowed to expand their tonnage of garbage in 1971 following a proposal to turn the site into the Beare Road Ski Facility following closure.  The elevation and grade were modified to create a facility for up to 800 skiers at one time.  The picture below, taken from the Beare Road Park Master Plan,  shows the landfill in 1974 around the time the ski hill was proposed.  At this time the former gravel pit has been filled in and the hill is starting to rise.

Beare Landfill 1974

By September of 1982 when the site closed there was over 9 million tonnes of garbage placed in a 60 metre hill.  After the landfill had been allowed to settle a cap of clay around 1.5 metres thick was installed over the top to seal and vegetation has taken over since then.  The plan for skiing, hang gliding, an alpine slide and go carts was scrapped and replaced with a 2013 plan calling for mixed use trails.  These trails are expected to be completed and ready for public use by Fall of 2019.


The former landfill continues to produce methane gas as the refuse rots below the surface.  In the 1990’s a private company installed a series of gas wells and pipes throughout the site to collect it.  They constructed a generating plant that converts the methane gas, and supplemental natural gas, into electricity that is sold back to the grid.  One of the challenges with developing a park will be keeping the public safe from this equipment, and vice-versa.


Painted turtles can live up to 25 years and grow until their shells reach about 25 centimetres with the male being slightly smaller.  There are several varieties but the Midland is the one native to the GTA.  They can be hard to distinguish without looking at the underside and these ones weren’t willing to participate.  Looking at the abdomen can also give you a clue to the age of the turtle.  They develop growth rings similar to a tree and these can be counted to determine the age.  Turtles are born with the first ring in place so it must be counted as “0”.


We had followed the trail north that was closest to the rail line and so the return hike called for the trail closest to The Little Rouge.  There are places along the creek that show signs of a much larger flow than the current level.


Following the trail closest to Little Rouge Creek will bring you back to Twyn Rivers Road at the site of Maxwell’s Mill.  Parts of the mill remain and you will exit back onto the road by passing through the entrance gates for the mill.


We went to Rouge Park to explore some more of this local resource with the idea that we would watch out for ticks during and after our hike.  We sprayed our boots and lower pant legs with “Off”  and stayed out of the grass and we never saw a tick.  That kind of ticked us off.  LOL.  It will be interesting to see what becomes of Beare Hill Park because I understand that there are the remains of an old stone well in the remnant of original forest on the property.

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Google Maps Link: Twyn Rivers Drive

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