Tag Archives: Dufferin Creek

Gore and Vaughan Plank Road

Jan. 14, 2016 featuring pictures from May 13, 2015.

The early roads in York County were laid out in a grid by the original survey with five 200 acre lots in each box. Augustus Jones surveyed York Township in 1796 and he made Yonge Street (grey) the north-south marker.  Going west (left on the map below) were 1st line west, second line west, etc.  Today we call them Bathurst (purple), Dufferin (red), Keele (white), Jane (black) and so on.  Eglinton was the east-west marker and known as Base Line.  The side roads going north were the 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th and 25th named after the lot number they ran along.  The lot numbers are shown on the map below along side of Jane St.  Today we call these roads Lawrence, York Mills (yellow), Sheppard (green), Finch (blue) and Steeles (orange). This grid of roads connected all the little farming and milling communities in the township and is still imprinted on the city today.  The 1877 county atlas section below has been coloured to illustrate this.

plank road

Settlers were granted 200 acres which came with several conditions. One of the mandatory tasks a pioneer faced was the clearing and maintaining of the road allowance along the edge of their property. They had to clear an area which amounted to 1 acre of land for public road allowance. They were also responsible to spend a certain amount of time working on road maintenance each year. This would include pulling stumps and filling in holes and swampy areas. The settlers had a full day’s work on the homestead and often the road repair was overlooked and people would be fined for not complying. The system led to some very messy roads where people got stuck 3 seasons of the year and bounced over ruts the other one.

The solution was to cover some of the roads in cut boards or planks. The Gore and Vaughan Plank Road Company was established in 1855 to build a plank road along Dufferin Street. The road was to be built of local wood and various saw mills were engaged along the route to cut and prepare the planks. The picture below shows one exposed end of the plank road along with one of the steel spikes that held it together.  The same spike is shown in relation to my shoe in the cover photo.

IMG_4328

Where Dufferin street, shown in red on the map above, crossed the ravine for Dufferin Creek the descent was very steep.  The solution for the pioneers was to run the road on a curve down the side of the ravine.  This shows on the map just below the blue line of Finch Ave.  The planks for the Gore and Vaughan Plank road were sixteen inches wide by 8 inches thick and sixteen feet long.  The picture below shows the length of one of the boards.

IMG_4341

For durability the planks were laid up and nailed through to create a roadbed that was sixteen inches thick.  Planks were held together with four foot long spikes that were driven in two feet apart in opposing directions.  The picture below shows the head of the spike on the left and the point of the spike on the right.  The tape measure is laying on the seam between two planks.

IMG_4355

In this spot there is almost 2 feet of spike sticking out of the plank where the exposed boards have rotted away.

IMG_4357

The spikes used in the plank road construction have a 3 inch diameter head on them and were over 4 feet in length.

IMG_4338

The body of the spike is 1 inch in diameter.

IMG_4340

The picture below shows the business end of the spike.

IMG_4349

The plank road was expensive to maintain as new wood was continually replacing worn and rotten boards.  The solution was to assess a toll for the use of the road.  Toll stations were set up at various places along the plank road.  On the map above there are two.  One is at Finch (yellow) and the other at Sheppard (green).  They are marked on the map and underlined in blue.  Yonge Street was also planked with a toll station at Hoggs Hollow.  The picture below was taken on Dundas Street near Lambton Mills and shows a representative toll charged for using a maintained road.

IMG_2133

Times changed and crushed gravel and asphalt replaced plank roads.  Dufferin was paved and where it crossed Dufferin Creek on a long curve it was straightened out.  The curved section in the ravine was left to rot or to be buried by flooding.  When the trunk sewer along Dufferin Creek required repair work in 2014 a portion of the plank road was exposed again. Hiking the GTA found these remains and gave a brief description in Dufferin Creek in May 2015. This post allows for  greater detail and more pictures to be presented of this 160 year old part of our transportation heritage.  The archive photo below from 1954 shows the old roadbed as seen from the modern Dufferin Street.

Dufferin 1

Google maps link:

https://www.google.ca/maps/@43.7658222,-79.4749897,14z

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

Hiking The GTA – A 2015 Monthly Review

January 1, 2016

Hiking the GTA was able to visit 86 different places in 2015 where we were able to see some truly amazing things.  Each season has it’s own beauty and there are always things to be discovered. Over the course of the year more people became aware of the stories we were publishing and readership increased dramatically.  Therefore a David Letterman “Top Ten” list would really only focus on the more recent stories.  For that reason we present a review of the year 2015 by looking at the most popular post from each month.  A brief outline of the story, a picture from it and a link are provided below.  Thanks to everyone who read one of our stories this past year.  I hope some of you were able to get out and enjoy some of these sites yourself because they are all interesting in their own way.  Plus, you never know what wild life you’ll encounter.

Graydon Hall was released on January 10th.  It visits a former millionaire’s estate finding plenty of evidence of it’s past usage.  The abandoned pump houses featured below are part of the former irrigation system.

IMG_1977

The Arsenal Lands was released on Feb. 7th.  The abandoned water tower and rifle inspection building along with the former rifle range made this an interesting hike.  One of the baffles from the rifle range is featured below.

IMG_2300

Military Burying Grounds was published on March 22 and re-posted for Remembrance Day. This hike visits the two nearly forgotten places where our early military dead are buried in downtown Toronto.

Military

Originally published on April 19th and recently given a Throwback Thursday release Guildwood Park where the inn is currently being restored.  The post looks at the Guild Inn and it’s history along with several preserved pieces of early Toronto architecture.

Guildwood Inn original

May saw the release of Dufferin Creek which featured the remains of a 150 year old plank road that ran up Dufferin Street near Finch Avenue.  It is related to Garbage Park which was a post featured in The Toronto Star.  The spikes in the planks from the old road are 2 inches thick and 3 feet long.

IMG_3603

The first day of summer saw the release of our most popular post of all time.  The Newmarket Ghost Canal features the remains of the nearly completed but long abandoned attempt to link Newmarket to Lake Simcoe by a canal.

IMG_5850

In July we completed our first 100 posts on Hiking the GTA and issued a review called Greatest Treks.  One of the most interesting hikes of the month was The Stonecutter’s Dam.  We visited an old dam near the Forks of the Credit which is made of blocks of cut stone.  It also sports a rare stone penstock as seen below.

IMG_6710

On August 15th we checked out Kerosene Castle in Oakville.  The castle was built by Richard Shaw who was refining coal into kerosene in a factory across the street on Sixteen Mile Creek. Until it blew up, that is!  When we got looking at the pictures we saw that one of them appears to have a large face in the oriel window.  It doesn’t show up in any other pictures we took that day.

IMG_7400 face

September 12th we visited the Ghost Town of Sixteen Hollow to see what remains of the formerly thriving mill village on Sixteen Mile Creek.  There is plenty of history here but all that remains of the original village is the church and the some newer bridge structures.

Sixteen Hollow 2

October featured a discovery related to the Caledon Aerial Tramway which made for an interesting hike.  On the 24th we found the 2 inch steel cable on The Cox Property. The underground chamber for the cable is seen below.

IMG_0897

in 1962 a quarry blasted a gap in the escarpment near Milton.  We visited The Gap on Nov. 14th in a hike that went on to become the second most popular story so far.

IMG_1300

December was a busy time but it was an interesting month of hiking as well.  We were back in Oakville on Sixteen Mile Creek on Dec. 13th when we visited The Vandalized Memorial to Taras Shevchenko.  The museum was burned down, the monuments stolen and the site abandoned.

IMG_1912

Thanks again for reading Hiking the GTA in 2015 and we hope you all have a great 2016 and enjoy the trails!  We’re looking forward to many great hikes this year ourselves.

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

Garbage Park Toronto

Monday April 13, 2015

Over the past year I have posted over 700 photos taken in various parks around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).  Hiking through diverse parts of the city one thing is common, there is very little litter in the parks.  This is not the case for the park on the south east corner of Finch Avenue and Dufferin Street.  I don’t know if it has a formal name, I have seen Dufferin Park on some maps, but I feel it should be renamed Garbage Park.  Have a look at the pictures below and see how sick you feel.  Then re-post this where the most people will see it until we get the attention of the city.

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

Walking down Dufferin along the side of the ravine on my lunch I was disgusted at the amount of garbage.  I know from working in the area that the city never cleans this woodlot.  The garbage runs the entire length of this park along both Finch and Dufferin streets.  This is the view from the street into the ravine.

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

There is an environmental disaster rotting on the hillside and leaching into Dufferin Creek and then the Don River.

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

Toronto has a beautiful park system in our ravines.  This should also be a part of that network of wildlife habitats.

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

Toronto is busy cleaning up for the 2015 Pan Am games why not invest a bit somewhere other than the downtown core?  That isn’t snow in the woods, it hasn’t melted all the years it’s lain there.

IMG_3593

If you think the city’s neglect of Garbage Park needs to end please post this where people will see it.  Spread it around Facebook.  Email it to your city councilor.  The more people requesting action the better.  I would love to come back here and show pictures of the cleaned up park. There is a history here and the foundations of at least four former homes.  There’s a better story waiting to be told.

For hundreds of pictures of beautiful parks in the Greater Toronto Area please go to:

http://www.hikingthegta.wordpress.com

http://www.facebook.com/hikingthegta