Archive for the ‘nature’ Category

A walk along the Don River.

The Don Valley Brick Works (or Evergreen Brickworks) is an old clay quarry and brick factory that operated between 1889 and 1984.  Today the site consists of 16 heritage buildings and an adjacent 16-hectare public park known as Weston Family Quarry Garden that includes wetlands, hiking trails, and wildflower meadows.

below: Interior of the kiln building.  Some of the kilns have been removed to create a larger open area and year round event space.

large ceiling pipes, exhaust system for old brickworks kilns, some of the old kilns as well

below: anser faces on the exterior yellow brick wall.

yellow brick wall with two large blue anser faces on it, as well as part of the word Toronto in yellow bricks

below: The Brickworks “living map” of Toronto is looking very healthy.  It is “Watershed Consciousness” by Ferruccio Sardella and it depicts the rivers and ravines in the city.    Some of the greens are looking a little tall (like they don’t belong there? a few strays?).

a pink chair and a yellow chair sit in front of a sculpture that is a metal relief map of Toronto, green plants grow in the areas of the map that are ravines and green spaces in the city

below: Bullrushes growing in the wetland area around the pond.

narrow brown bullrushes growing amongst the reeds in the wetlands at brickworks

below:  Ideas!  I’ve been meaning to find the end of this bridge and walk at least part of it – if I do, I’ll let you know!  It’s the bridge that you see beside the Brickworks.  It was built in 1928 and is 335m long.   It is part of the Don Branch of the CPR and it ran from Leaside Junction to the downtown core until the line was closed in 2007.

two people walk across an unused railway bridge

After a short visit at the Brickworks, including a quick bite to eat at the Farmers Market, we headed south.  The first part of the walk was back along Bayview to Pottery Road since Brickworks is on the west side of the Don River and the trail is on the east side.  I didn’t take any pictures – walking along a major road that doesn’t have a sidewalk needs all of your attention.   There is a bike path that parallels Bayview on the east side but getting to it was either a long detour or a dash across the road and over a barrier.   We made the decision to stay on the west side and cross with the lights at Pottery Road.

below: Although the path is through the ravine and it runs beside the Don River, it also runs adjacent to the Don Valley Parkway.  There are only a few places on the trail where you can see the highway but there is a constant rumbling noise from the cars passing by.

cyclist on a path, riding away from the camera, fence to the left of him/her, green signs on the Don Valley Parkway to the far left. exit sign for Bayview and Bloor.

below: This is the same railway line as the bridge shown above but farther down the valley.  A very makeshift bike crossing.

two cyclists walk their bikes across loose pieces of plywood over unused railway tracks

below: Standing at the same spot as the above photo, but turned around 180 degrees… You can see how overgrown the old tracks are.

looking along an abandoned railway line, overgrown tracks, trees on either side, apartment buildings far away in the distance

below: Two different railway lines run down the Don River Valley.   The line shown here, the CN Bala subdivision line,  is very active including use by GO trains that service the Oriole, Richmond Hill, and Newmarket route.   The Bala subdivision tracks continue all the way to Sudbury.

a cyclist walks his bike over a gravel travel under a bridge that has just been renovated, another bike rider is dismounting

below: A quiet spot by the abandoned tracks.

an old rusted side of a railway trestle bridge, lots of greenery from the trees growing around it, a man is standing at one end of the bridge, unused tracks
below: There are a few spots along the trail where there was damage from the high water levels in the spring.  Most if the problems are with the banks od the river.  The trail itself is in good shape.

an orange plastic fence runs between wooden stakes, danger, marking the parts of a riverside trail that got washed away or damaged in high water in the spring

below: Kayaking on the river.

a yellow kayak with two people in it passes under an old railway bridge that has graffiti on it. Don River

below: Keeping an eye on the water level.

surveillance camera on a tall pole, aimed at rulers and markers on the far side of a river, keeping an eye on the water level

cyclists on a path through the trees, a bridge support is beside the path

a big white happy face graffiti on a bridge support

below: Does anyone know what the 6 drum shaped things are?

two boys ride bikes past the Mill Street Junction hydro station, fenced in area with danger signs,

below: Standing on the old metal bridge across the Don River at Eastern Avenue, looking south.  When the Don Valley Parkway was built, it cut through Eastern Avenue.  Eastern was rerouted, swinging north a bit before crossing over the DVP and splitting into Richmond, Adelaide, and Eastern. (depending in which direction you’re travelling).   If you stand on the bridge and look directly east, there is still a road there that dead ends at the highway.  It is now Sunlight Park Road and it is provides access to the BMW dealership that you can see as you drive past on the DVP.

metal work of the side of a bridge frames the view of a river and trees and city buildings, Don River, abandoned bridge

I couldn’t see any park in that area so I decided that if there is a Sunlight Park it’s teensy tiny.  Luckily I didn’t stop there – I did some research and discovered that Sunlight Park was actually the first baseball stadium built in Toronto.   It was built in 1886 and was first known as the Toronto Baseball Grounds – four storeys, wood, and the home of the Toronto baseball team from 1886 to 1897.   And where is Sunlight in all this?  The stadium became known as Sunlight Park after the Sunlight Soap factory that was built by the Lever Brothers in 1900/01 in the same area.   The stadium was demolished in 1913.

below: The building in the background was the Lever Brothers (the Unilever) soap factory.  There is now a sign on the building that says firstgulf.com – they are the development company that owns the site.  NOW magazine published an interesting story about the building as it looks at the moment (with lots of great pictures!).  The path through the striped underpass joins the Don River Trail to Corktown Commons.

two men walk through a park towards an underpass under a railway track, factory in the background.

 Stay safe.  Protect the plants (and the humans!)

altered sign. Instead of saying Protect the Plants it now says Protect the humans.

The facelift of Berczy Park has been completed and although the park only reopened a short time ago, it has already become a popular spot.

a photographer is taking engagement pictures of an Asian young couple as they sit on the edge of the fountain at Berczy park. The fountain features sculptures of dogs that spout water into the fountain. A young boy is also sitting on the edge of the fountain. He is looking forlornly at the photographer, looks like he's feeling left out.

The highlight of the park is the refurbished fountain.  Sculptures of dogs big and small spout water into the fountain – or maybe they’re drinking from the fountain?  There is one cat that sits quietly on the base of the sculpture seemingly unaware of the canine antics.

the new fountain in Berczy park, many sculptures of dogs that are spouting water into the fountain

Three boys playing with the water spouting out of a dog's (sculpture) mouth and into a fountain. One is spraying the other while a third watches

two little kids playing in a fountain, a young girl and a young boy. The boy is spraying water while the girl watches

Besides the fountain, there is new landscaping, trees, plants, and benches.

mural of windows and facadde on the back of the flatiron building with the redesigned Berczy park planting and benched in front of it

This sculpture was a feature of the original park but it’s been moved to a different location.   It is the work of Almuth Lukenhaus-Lackey.

sculpture of a family - father, mother and child in a park, with new garden plantings around it, hostas mostly

The plaque by this sculpture says “This sculpture was donated by the Electrical Society of Mecklenburg Upper Canada Inc., with the financial assistance of The Consumers’ Gas Company Limited and the The Council of Metropolitan Toronto, in memory of Johan Albrecht Ulrich Moll, better known as William Berczy, born December 10, 1744 in Wallerstein Germany. He was co-founder of York (Toronto) in 1794 when John Graves Simcoe was Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. His younger son, Charles Albert Berczy, was the first president of The Consumers’ Gas Company, from 1847 to 1856, and Postmaster of Toronto. His older son, William Bent Berczy was a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada and like his father and mother, a gifted painter.”

I only spent a short time at the park on the weekend but I’m sure that I’ll be back!

Lake Ontario is still higher than normal and one of the areas of the city most affected by this is Centre Island.   All of the islands have been flooded to some extent but the low lying Centre Island was the worst hit.

below: Sandbags along the shoreline by the Ward’s Island ferry dock.

sandbags along the shoreline by the Ward's Island ferry dock.

below: Sandbags in the water too.

three small trees are in the water, with sandbags at their bases, most of the sandbags are covered by water. on the shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto skyline is in the background

below: Ward’s Island beach

an empty lifeguard station on a flooded beach. it is in the water of Lake Ontario and is surrounded by water

Although the water level has gone down a bit since early May, large sections of Centre Island are still flooded.   The ferries to Centre Island and Hanlons Point are not running and the Centreville amusement park is closed.

below: The Centreville train tracks are under water.

a sign says danger stay off the bridge, sign is sitting in a pond of water caused by clooding of Centre Island, train tracks from the amusement park train ride are partially under water too

below: Waiting for the next train arriving on platform one. The train is late and it may be a long wait.

large white boats in the shapes of swans are stored on shore, beside a train track and station for the Centreville amusement park. It looks like the swans are waiting for a train

below: Making the bees go round!

a young woman site in a child's amusement park ride where the seats are the shape of bumblebees. her hands are in the air. Another woman is pushing the bee to make it go around like it would if the ride were were operating

below: The ducks are happy!  So are the geese, swans, and other wildlife (if you can call them wild!).   Carp have been seen spawning in the flooded areas.

a male mallard duck stands in a puddle of water outside a building with an open door and a red set of stairs.

yellow fire hydrant in a pond created by flooding. buildings of the amusement park, centreville, are in the background

two blue benches back to back in a flooded section of a park, lots of trees also in the water, reflections, another bench in the background.

picnic tables are stacked in piles beside the water, willow trees and a red maple are also in the picture

picnic tables in a flooded section of a park

below: This is the view across to the Royal Canadian Yacht Club which is on its own island. Two chairs hang overhead.  In the background is the Toronto skyline.

view across channel towards island yacht club and then the Toronto skyline beyond,

below: The constantly changing Toronto Skyline as it is today.

a few shrubs along the flooded shoreline of Centre Island in the foreground with the Toronto skyline across the Inner Channel, CN Tower, Rogers Centre and many condos and office towers.

below: Waiting for the water to recede.  The Centre Island website says that the amusement park and all facilities (food vendors, washrooms, etc) are closed until further notice.

three muskoka chairs sitting in a line, a blue, yellow and pink chair. trees and grass behind them

stickers on a pole. One is a photo of an eye and eyebrow and the other is a drawing of a very pink face with crooked nose and open mouth with teeth showing.

Yesterday afternoon was perfect for a stroll along the boardwalk.  I hadn’t been in that part of the city since the flooding occurred earlier in the spring.  The lake levels are still high but that doesn’t prevent people from enjoying the sun and sand.

at the beach, a woman with a large yellow hat and red top lies under a red, orange and yellow striped umbrella, lake and sky in the background

below: Party time behind the fence! This scene caught my eye because of the positioning of the chairs behind the fence (part of the beach is closed after the flooding). It wasn’t until I looked at the picture on my computer that I saw the LCBO bag between two of the chairs and the can of Palm Bay on one of arm rests.

three Muskoka chairs, red, blue, and yellow, on the beach with the tops of three heads showing, a dog lies in the sand beside them, Lake Ontario in the background. An LCBO bag between two of the chairs. A large thermos mug on the armrest of one chair and a can of Palm Bay vodka drink on the arm of another. An orange plastice fence is in front of them because that part of the beach is closed because of high water levels

below: The lifeguards are now manning some of the stations.   Because of the flooding, there is a pool behind the lifeguard where there was once beach.

lifeguard at Woodbine Beach, the beach is flooded so that there is also water behind the lifeguard. two chairs, one yellow and one green, sit in the flooded part

below: The remnants of sandbags ebb and flow with the waves.   Grounded.   Just enough sand to keep them from floating away.

the remains of ornage and yellow sandbags on a beach, some sand still in them so they don't float away.

a woman with red hair lies under a blue and white umbrella on the beach by Lake Ontario

a man sits on a red Muskoka chair in the flooded part of Woodbine beach. A red and yellow flag flies behind him.

below: The high water levels have encroached on the dog park.

flooded beach, fences in water, remains of orange temporary fence, a tree in the water

a man is lying on his back on Kew Beach, by Lake Ontario, a Canada goose is swimming by.

a woman sits on top of a picnic table onthe beach because the sand comes up to the level of the seats, lake and rocks in the background.

below: Look! An aerial view of Stonehenge! LOL.  And with that smile (I hope!)…  and with sand between my toes and in my sandals, I’ll leave you for another day.

a ring of pebbles in the sand on a beach

But not just any squirrel.  Toronto has many, many squirrels.  Most of them are black and a few are grey or even a reddish colour.  The rarest squirrels in the city are the albino squirrels.  I’m not sure how many there are but they can most often be seen around Trinity Bellwoods Park.

It is fitting then that this mural is next to the park, in a little lane just north of Queen West that ends at Gore Vale Avenue.  It’s a very large albino squirrel; it looks like it fits comfortably into a lovebot heart.

a large mural on white wall of a red lovebot heart and on the heart is a large albino squirrel (white squirrel) with pinkish eyes and ears.

This is another meandering blog post… a post about being out and about on yet another wonderful autumn day, going wherever my feet and eyes take me.

below: The first picture of my day was this intriguing wall made of old wooden doors.  Bathurst Street.

a tall narrow wall about three storeys high made of old white doors.

below: A small elicser mural tucked away at the end of a parking lot.   The man has his back to the viewer but I can’t figure out what’s behind him or what he might be doing.

small mural on a fence, a man's head is back to the viewer

below: The leaves have fallen off the vines to reveal a yellowish creature with his baseball cap askew.

graffiti painting of a yellow animal like creature wearing a blue and yellow baseball cap. The creature is yellow. On a red brick wall, with spots on its back

below: Toronto’s tallest icon framed by a construction crane.

CN Tower in the distance, condo construction in the foreground, with a red crane

below: And on a similar note, a vacant lot cleared and ready for the next stage of its life.

a box beside a fence that has been scrawled over with blue spray paint. Behind it is a fence around a vacant empty lot. There are some small trees growing in front of the fence.

below: No more cranes here (and not many vacant lots either for that matter).  A view showing how much development there has been on the south side of the railway tracks.   Fort York is between the tracks and the condo towers.

a VIA Rail train passes by on one set of many tracks, in the background is Fort York and then a series of new condo buildings.

below: And what’s this? An old blue canoe beached on the tracks?

looking at the scene from a above, a blue canoe has been used to plant plants in. It lies across an old railway track, a chainlink fence separates the canoe from the main railway tracks that still function.

below: Standing guard over Bathurst Street, Fleet street and the Lakeshore, is one larger than life gold replica of a Royal Newfoundland Regiment and his fallen silver American foe. A sculpture by Douglas Copeland entitled “A Monument to the War of 1812”, a nod to nearby Fort York and the history of Toronto.

Douglas Copeland's sculpture of two tin soldiers, a gold one standing with backpack on and rifle in hand, and a silver one lying on its back on the ground, uniforms circa War of 1812, seen from the back, figures are much large than life sized and they are on a corner at an intersection, Bathurst St. and Fleet St.

below: My favorite example of bad grammar still exists!  Off-leash dog area at Coronation Park.

a wood fence around a dog park, in autumn with lots of leaves on the ground, on the fence is a white sign with black letters re the Toronto municipal code 608,

A beautiful day in the park.  A slight November nip was in the air but it was sunny and the sky was a brilliant shade of blue.  Coronation Park is named in honour of the coronation of King George VI who was crowned on 12 May 1937.  At that time nearly 150 trees were planted here.

Apparently, an oak tree was planted to honour the king.  Surrounding it, a ring of silver maples was planted.  This was to symbolize the countries of the British Empire.  I wish I had known that bit of trivia before I walked through the park because now I am curious if these trees are still there.   Some of the trees are quite substantial.

below: Long shadows for the morning sun, low in the sky.

morning in the park, autumn, trees with some leaves still on, many leaves on the ground, wood railing fence, shadows, Lake Ontario, path, Coronation Park.

below: Looking back towards the city center, past the empty docks of the National Yacht Club to the residences on Stadium Road.   A small group of people were making a video in the dog park.

morning in the park, autumn, trees with some leaves still on, many leaves on the ground, wood railing fence, shadows, Lake Ontario, path, Coronation Park. a small group of people in the distance are filming a video

below: This Victory Peace Monument was unveiled on 14 November 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War 2 and honour those who died in that war.   It was designed by John McEwen; the bronze pieces resemble the bow of a ship.

Metal partial cylindrical shapes on a concrete circular monument. World War 2 memorial

below: On the inside of one of the bronze pieces is a map of eastern Canada and the Atlantic Ocean.  Each boat on the map represents a ship or U-boat that was sunk during the war.  The Canadian ships are located on the map at “their last known position”.  I hadn’t realized that so many ships were lost so close to North America.

relief map of eastern Canada and the Atlantic Ocean, in bronze on a WW2 memorial. Little ships are shown on the ocean where they were sunk during WW2.

Trees were also planted to represent the four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (WW1) and its units as well as those who fought in the Fenian Raids of 1866-1870, the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, and the Boer War (1899-1902).  Once upon a time, brass plaques were placed at the foot of each tree to indicate the units the tree stood for.  If any plaques remain, I didn’t see them.

below: Another memorial is close by, a  “Memorial to Lieut. Tommy Hobbs gallant British Canadian soldier in the Great War 1914 – 1918.  Died on active service November 10, 1940.  Beloved and remembered by his comrades.”   Tommy Hobbs was involved in the creation of this park.

a memorial in a park made of a small pile of rocks. The top rock is inscribed, memorial to Tommy Hobbs, died 1940, in Coronation Park

below: A little farther on I noticed another rock, one that was painted red.   The bronze plaque on the rock says that 20 trees have been planted here in commemoration of the G20 Summit held in Toronto in 2010.

a large rock with a bronze plaque on it. The rock has been crudely painted red

below:  A 30 foot tall Inukshuk stands looking out over Lake Ontario.  Approximately 50 tonnes of mountain rose granite was used to create the Inukshuk, which was made by Inuit artist Kellypalik Qimirpik from Cape Dorset, Nunavut.

a tall stone inuksuk on a raised mound of warth

below: Streetcars across the baseball outfield.

Looking across the outfield of a baseball diamond towards a street. A line of mature trees by the street with two red and white TTC streetcars on the street, condo towers behind.

below: A closer look at that brown octagonal structure in the middle of the streetcar loop for the 509 and 511 cars.  Apparently it’s the Queens Wharf lighthouse, one of a pair built in 1861.

a brown structure, the Queens WHarf Lighthouse, sits on a patch of grass beside TTC streetcar tracks in front of a new condo.

The lighthouses marked the entrance to the Toronto Harbour from 1861 until the Western Channel was built in the early 1900’s.   This one stood on Queen’s Wharf which used to be at the foot of Bathurst Street, adjoining Fort York.  The wharf was built by the military; in 1833 it was a pier 42 feet long.    The pier no longer exists; a hundred years ago it was buried under what is now Bathurst Quay.

below:  A picture of an historical map (1886 or 1887) of the area showing Toronto Harbour, Fort York and the railway lands.  Queen’s Wharf is the pier on the left.   At that time, Front Street was the southern most street in this part of the city.   All the present day development south of the train tracks is on reclaimed land.

picture of historical map of part of Toronto Harbour from 1886, showing Fort York, Front St., and Bathurst St., and the railway lands and wharves into Lake Ontario,

below:   Taken from google maps, what the layout of the city looks like now.   As you can see, there have been many changes!

present day map taken from google maps of Coronation Park and Bathurst Quay including Fort York

Lake Ontario in the foreground, trees in Coronation Park in the middle and Toronto skyline in the distance with the CN Tower and a large Canadian flag.
a sticker of a rainbow in a heart shape. A small purple heart is in the center, then a blue heart is drawn around it, moving outwards in rainbow colours.

I was going to go looking for autumn but, silly me, I soon realized that I didn’t need to look for it.   It’s all around us.  All you have to do is look out the window, or better yet, step out the door and you’re in the middle of it.  It’s falling in front of you, swirling in the breezes and crunching under your feet.

street scene, large trees with yellow and orange leaves, with a park in the center

a pot of purple flowers with a yellow tree in the background

a stone fence with a metal gate, large trees, autumn leaves
a branch of yellow leaves, autumn tree with blue sky and the turret of Casa Loma in the background

two storey brick house with large tree in front, smaller trees with yellow leaves in the background.
park in the fall, leaves on the ground, trees still with some leaves in oranges, rusts, and yellows, playground in the distance

a metal bench in front of a large tree in a cemetery, tree has yellow leaves, autumn colours, change of season, fallen leaves on the ground around the bench

trees in autumn, red leaves and yellow leaves