Six ravines and an abandoned rail line

Walking home from Yonge and Bloor

Added 2012-04-21

It's Saturday afternoon, and I'm heading back home from my barber's near Yonge and Bloor. My first stop is the Castle Frank Brook ravine, on Rosedale Valley Road, looking north to where the road ends at Rosedale Ravine Park, just north of the intersection of Rosedale Valley Road with Aylmer Avenue and Severn Street —

North end of Rosedale Valley Road

There are a couple of apartment buildings on the right here, and next to them, a lovely little bit of bush, over what is presumably the original creek bed.

Severn Creek ravine

Castle Frank Brook used to be known as Severn Creek here, named after John Severn who had a brewery in this vicinity in the early 1800's. Rosedale Ravine Park is also known as Severn Park.

At the end of the road, just before the park, sits a single private home, that looks as though it used to be a garage or similar utility building.

100 Rosedale Valley Road

My purpose in coming here was to get some context shots for the "whippet crossing" sign, visible in the foreground in the above picture, which I had photographed on a previous trip through here, Rubik's cube in the ravine, and then posted on the Urban Toronto forum recently. This stretch of Rosedale Valley Road is not visible on Google Street View.

It was also a bit of a surprise to discover that 100 Rosedale Valley Road is a designated heritage property.

From the park, the path on the left leads to stairs to Crescent Road. Going to the right instead will lead to a most impressive ravine, but it's a dead end.

Rosedale Ravine park

Up the stairs, then, and turn right. On the south side of Crescent Road, there's a fence with a splendid view of the Mashquoteh ravine, the dead-end ravine accessible only from below. Pictures would not do justice to the extremely steep drop here. My second ravine today, although I did not venture into it this time.

Making my way through Rosedale, I stop to take a couple of photos for nostalgic purposes. The first one is at the corner of Crescent Road and Rosedale Road, an immaculate old apartment building called Castlemere, another heritage property, built in 1912 —

Castlemere apartments, 75 Crescent Road

The second is at 85 South Drive —

85 South Drive

My fiancée used to live here, in the late 1960's, when we were dating. We used to take walks through Rosedale, going past that lovely apartment building often.

Further east along South Drive, past Glen Road, is the entrance to Milkman's Lane

Entrance to Milkman's Lane off South Drive

The garbage piled up at the entrance is undoubtedly due to the work of volunteers, because today is Community Clean-up Day.

Milkman's Lane was completely rebuilt late last year, making it safer and more inviting. There's even wire mesh stapled to the wooden rails, to keep dogs on the path and away from sensitive ravine slopes. The more people that go down into Toronto's ravines, the better, in my opinion.

Milkman's Lane

Milkman's Lane goes into the Yellow Creek ravine, my third ravine today. You can see a bit of the creek before it heads underground towards its eventual discharge in the Don River, not far from here.

The footpath then climbs up a small hill, and goes alongside the highway ramp from the DVP to southbound Bayview. This is the location of a homestead which was destroyed by Hurricane Hazel in 1954 —

"The McArthur family lived in the Don Valley north of the Prince Edward Viaduct for over fifty years. My father and his father before him had kept an apiary of over one hundred colonies at the junction of Park Drive Reservation and the CNR main line. Now our homestead has been replaced by the interchange to Castle Frank on the Bayview Extension. This homestead was a wild and beautiful oasis in the middle of the city as we grew up. Our homes were located on an elevated plot of land which became an island each spring. We were accustomed to the annual spring flooding of the Don River and would just wait it out. That Friday in October was something else again.

See Hurricane Hazel Impacts - Don River for the rest of the story about the McArthurs.

The path now heads northeast towards the Evergreen Brick Works, but before getting there, another ravine will be crossed. This one (the fourth, if you're counting along) is the Mud Creek ravine, along which ran the ill-fated Belt Line Railway of 1892-1894. In fact, the path here actually follows much of the old rail bed.

Restoration is underway here, too —

Mud Creek restoration

Someone has created an impromptu inuksuk.


From the Mud Creek ravine, you can see through to the Evergreen Brick Works —

Shack beside the Evergreen Brick Works

Here's one of several remnants of the many railway sidings that used to feed the brickworks —

End of the line

You don't see solid wheelstops like that any more.

On into the Evergreen Brick Works, over the Mud Creek channel, the original diversion of the creek into the brickworks —

Mud Creek channel

Here's an impressive huge piece of "living" art, depicting Toronto with its trees and rivers, called Watershed Consciousness.

Watershed Consciousness

This being a Saturday, the place was crawling with wedding parties. I counted three.

Wedding photography at the Brick Works

Okay, out of the Brick Works, head east, under the Half-Mile Bridge, and from there, north along Bayview. Technically, I'm now in my fifth ravine, the large ravine carved by the River Don itself.

Under the Half Mile Bridge

Going north along the west side of Bayview, I climb the hillside for a shot of Todmorden Mills across the valley. The historic chimney, familiar to many commuters who pass it every day on the Don Valley Parking Lot, is undergoing restoration.

Todmorden Mills chimney under restoration

At the top of the hillside is the historic Don Branch abandoned rail line, which goes over the Half-Mile Bridge —

Looking south from the Half Mile Bridge

No trains have been along here in many years.

Train time is any time

A group of people is crossing the bridge!

Crossing the Half-Mile Bridge

I've crossed the Half-Mile Bridge myself, but it was at 3 a.m. and I was plenty scared. These people don't seem to mind the danger at all.

I strike up a conversation with them, and regale them with the history of the environs as we proceed north along the Don Branch towards Leaside.

Don Branch abandoned rail line looking north from the Half-Mile Bridge

We stop by the faux grave that was featured in a Torontoist story a couple of weeks ago. In the comments on that article, I posted a picture of the northern terminus of the Don Branch, showing that its connection to the CP main line has been cut.

So why is the light signal always still on? One of the more adventurous of the young people climbs up to investigate.

Climbing the signal tower at Pottery Road

I take my leave of them under the True Davidson Drive bridge and go into my sixth ravine today, that of Cudmore Creek. There's a small section of ravine wilderness just south of Nesbitt here, but you can see the ravine valley all along Bayview towards Moore, and on into Sandy Bruce park.

Along the hillside next to the Hydro One project, a patient groundhog waits while I get out the camera.

Patient groundhog posing for a picture

Incidentally, there's Jane's Walk in a couple of weeks from Castle Frank down Milkman's Lane to the Brick Works.

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