Tag Archives: beaver

Humber Bay Park – East and West

Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017

Humber Bay Park is split in two by Mimico Creek with the two sides being cleverly named East and West.  They sit at the west end of the Humber Bay shoreline.  Both sides of the park have parking lots accessible off of Lakeshore Boulevard.  In 1970 the Lakeshore bridge over Mimico Creek was right at the mouth of the creek.

humber park

All of Humber Bay Park has been created by lake fill since that time. It was developed by the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and is operated under the authority of Metropolitan Toronto Parks.  We parked in the west side of the park and the picture below was taken along the shore. It shows that the park is made of what is considered clean fill. This is mostly bricks and concrete from demolition projects which supposedly does not contain any environmental hazards.


51 million cubic metres of landfill was used by the time the park opened on June 11, 1984.  The debris slowly erodes out of the shoreline and gets tumbled and rounded in the lake. As the years go by they will return to the sand from which they were created. A similar process is going on in Lakeside Park a little west of here.  Many of the bricks in this section of the park were made by Hamilton Brickworks.


Some wildlife is quite adaptable to living in close proximity to humans.  Although the park is made of landfill, beaver have moved in and made the shoreline home.  Instead of building a lodge to hide from predators in, this large specimen has a home in among the armour stone that lines the shore near the boat launch on the west side of the park.  The west park is also home to the Humber Bay Boating Federation and hosts two yacht clubs. The Etobicoke Yacht Club and Mimico Cruising Club provide docking facilities and the Humber College Sailing School is also operated from the west park.  Two red and white lighthouses are located in the yacht basin that were built in 1895 to mark the eastern gap in Toronto Harbour.  They were moved to the park after being taken out of service in 1973 and relocated in 1981.


Canada Geese can actually be herded quite easily when they don’t have their young chicks to defend.  Parental instincts can make them much more aggressive than they are under normal circumstances.


The mud along the side of Mimico Creek reveals the wildlife that lives in this little greenbelt.  White-tailed deer prints are mixed with those of racoons and Canada Geese.  Coyote prints can be found here as well.  They are easily identifiable by the fact that the front claws curl inward.  Domestic dogs have their nails worn down from walking on hard floors and concrete sidewalks.  The front two claws of the coyote print below cut a pair of deep grooves into the mud.  They would do a deadly job on a small animal, should it be caught unawares.


In 1997 the first single rib inclined arch bridge in North America was built across the Mimico creek near the mouth.  The creek is 90 metres wide at this point but was reduced to 44 metres to keep construction costs down.  The bridge deck was also reduced to just 2.5 metres to keep the project on it’s $650,000 budget.  The narrowing of the creek provided wetlands around the bridge attracting wildlife to the area.


The east park contains several ponds, the largest of which is traversed by a boardwalk.  Several restoration projects are underway in the park with the trail being diverted onto the boardwalk while the main trail is being repaired.  New habitats are being created along the shore by the addition of some random sunken logs, rock piles, log cribs and sunken vertical trees.


From the park, you can look back the shore and see the many towers that have sprung up over the years.  On the right-hand side, you can see the white arch of the bridge over the Humber River.  When it was built in 1994 many of these towers didn’t exist.  To the west of here at the mouth of Mimico Creek, the towers get taller with the tallest tower, 62 floors,  in Canada outside of the downtown core currently under construction.


The park contains Toronto’s memorial to the victims of the bombing of Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985.  The flight originated in Montreal and was bound for Dehli and Bombay but it was lost over the Atlantic near Ireland. The sundial memorial in Humber Pay Park East was revealed on June 23, 2007, to commemorate the 329 lives that were lost to the bombing on that day. The stones in the sundial podium were donated from every province and territory in Canada as well as the countries of India, Ireland, Japan, and the USA. All of whom were touched by the tragedy.


This fall we photographed two pieces of artwork in along the east trail between Mimico Creek and the mouth of the Humber River.  They were created by local artists out of driftwood and represent a bather looking out toward Toronto’s skyline as well as the word Toronto.  The Toronto sign was badly damaged and had been repaired a few times but was finally removed on Dec. 9th, 2017.


The Waterfront Trail runs for 740 kilometres and part of it passes through the East and West Humber Bay Park area where it can be accessed by the residents of all the new towers going up along the shoreline.

Google Maps Link: Humber Bay Park

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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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

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Etobicoke Valley Park

Saturday Feb. 28, 2015

It was a bright sunny morning starting out at -17 without a wind chill.  With only 3 weeks left until the first day of spring it is unusual for it to be so cold, but the sun had a nice warming effect on the skin.  We parked on Sherway Drive, formerly known as Middle Road, where it now dead-ends at the 1909  Middle Road Bridge.  In the 1880’s the property belonged to James Alderson who sold half an acre in 1864 for the construction of the Weslyan Methodist church. His daughter married into the Silverthorne family who were founders of near by Summerville. Today this area is known as Etobicoke Valley Park.

The single lane bridge in the photo below at one time served as a main route between Toronto and Hamilton.  The Etobicoke Creek is frozen solid as it passes under the old bridge.


Crossing the bridge we followed the old road for a short distance before returning to the west side of the creek and heading north.  Middle road’s lamp posts are fading into the bushes along side of what was once a busy highway.


The Etobicoke Creek was frozen solid and many animals and humans had been passing over freely.  As we walked up the west side of the creek we heard the yip and howl of coyote in what sounded like a multi-animal attack on some poor beast.  Curiosity led us to back track and eventually cross the river to see if we could see what was happening.  We came to a site that had a lot of snow trampled down, urine all over the place and spots of blood.  An area of fur chunks, some glistening with fresh blood, told a different tale.  Female coyote come into heat for 10 days, only once per year.  This season runs from the end of January until early March. Coyote are monogamous but if she isn’t in heat, she will fend of her partner with teeth and claws.  With the cold weather running late this year the breading season may be a little late as well.  It is likely that we had heard, and were now looking at the aftermath, of this seasonal encounter.


Just north of the Queensway bridge the Little Etobocoke Creek joins the Etobicoke Creek.  There are a lot of old metal objects along the valley of both creeks.  Among them was this door from a 1978-1982 Chevy Corvette.  We identified the year range and model from the part number on the tire inflation label on the end of the door.


The foundations of an old bridge on Little Etobicoke creek may mark the site of what appears to be an old mill on the 1971 aerial photographs.


Even though it wasn’t plugged in this 1958 RCA Custom freezer was working perfectly. Everything inside it was frozen solid.  Retailing at $388, and still working after 57 years, it looks like it was quite a bargain.  It was a pretty cool find on a cold day.


After hiking up Little Etobicoke Creek we returned to where it empties into the main flow of the Etobicoke Creek.  The view below is taken from standing in the middle of Etobicoke Creek looking back up Little Etobicoke Creek.


Just south of the Queensway bridge on our return trip we found this round hole in the ice. Based on the chewed up trees and the little trail of footprints leading down the embankment and across the ice we concluded that it is an access hole for a beaver family.


When Europeans realized that North America was not the spice rich orient they set their sights on other natural resources.  The beaver numbered up to 200 million and in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s the demand for fur top hats made beaver pelts a valuable resource.  The Hudson’s Bay Company was founded in 1670 and incorporated four beavers on a crest for their logo. Under the crest was written “Pro Pelle Cutem” (Skin For Leather).  During the peak of the fur trade 100,000 beaver pelts per year were  being shipped to Europe.  Much of the fighting in early Canadian history was over control of the fur trade.  Fortunately, silk hats came into style just in time to prevent beaver from becoming extinct.  Just down stream we found a beaver near a storm drain entrance where the water was being kept ice free.


In 1851 Sir Sandford Flemming was asked to create a design for Canada’s first postage stamp. He chose the beaver and the stamp has become known as the three pence beaver, as seen in the cover photo for today’s story.  It was the first animal stamp issued anywhere in the world and today one in fine condition is worth $120,000.  In 1937 when Canada was updating it’s coins the beaver was chosen for the 5 Cent coin.  In 1975 the beaver was finally chosen as the official symbol of Canada.  This beaver doesn’t seem to mind the cold water and perhaps that’s why their fur made such popular hats.


Along the trail heading back to the car someone has set up a number of stolen newspaper boxes.  At the time the Sun box was stolen a daily newspaper would have cost you ten of those little coins with the beaver on them.


Winter hiking often reveals places that show great promise for discoveries when the snow is gone.  This is one of those places.