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Christopher Greaves

East Don Parklands

I set off to walk from Leslie Street and Steeles Avenue to Leslie Subway station along the East Don River.

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My starting point is enclosed in the orange rectangle at the top of the map above. Leslie Subway station is the rectangle at the bottom of the map. FWIW I took the subway to Leslie than the 51 bus “Leslie North” to the stop just before Steeles. “Francine” is the name of the street.

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Here I am at the bus stop; the large building to the SW is the “”

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The entrance to the park is across the street, across the bridge.

I think that a good clue to entrances to the ravine parks of Toronto is “look at the bottom of a hill”. In this case Leslie Street dips down to cross the East Don. The creek is the clue to the trail that runs along the creek.

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I spy another clue as I walk north on the western side of Leslie Street – a red life preserver. These are spotted along many of the creek trail parks in Toronto

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But this IS Toronto, so whatever work is being done is part-done and left in that state, with lumps of concrete, orange pylons.

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I am going to walk southwards down the west side of Leslie, but if you look at the map you’ll see that the trail continues in an inverted U-shape to travel a little way southwards down the east side of Leslie Street.

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I had hoped for a “You are here” map, but all I get is snakes.

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The scenery along the park all the way down to Sheppard Avenue is glorious. I am never more than 60 seconds away from the creek.

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The path is pretty good; in about four places the creek has eaten the bank and the path has a camber which could be unsettling.

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Every now and then I spy a trail wandering back up the valley wall; I suspect this one leads to a local street. “Breanna” or “Saddletree”.

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The creek is running pretty well, but then, we’ve had several bursts of rain lately. I think this is the first warm and dry (20º) Saturday we’ve had since last September.

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I like the retaining wall. It makes for a long bench in the shade.

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Numerous new footbridges span the creek. I lost count of how many times I crossed to the other side.

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Here is the first railway bridge; look for “James Gray” on the map.

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The struts remind me of the Kinzua bridge in Pennsylvania. I would not be surprised to learn that they share the same design team.

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Many of the smaller trees are bent over.

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I wonder if they have been warped permanently by this winter’s ice-storm.

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Here is another sapling leaning across the trail. In the distance another bridge announces itself.

I love the bright golden dandelions that are sprinkled in the grass.

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This will be the footbridge from Goldwood (Bestview Park) to Pineway.

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My lunch spot is about fifty yards from the bitumen trail, down the ban. I sit on a dead log and can hear nothing but the brook and the birds.

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My view downstream; the banks are sandy and this accounts for the many sandbanks in the creek.

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The view upstream.

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And the view across the back. Much clearing and tidying has been going on; either that or the river is adept at building piles of driftwood on the flood plain.

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I spurn the benches; most of them are sited in the open, and I don’t want to sit in the sun; the day is warm enough to rest in the shade.

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Most of the path junctions are well signed. I have come from Leslie; I don’t want to go to Bestview. I want to continue down to Sheppard.

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If in don’t, follow the creek downstream; it too is going to the Leslie Subway station.

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The footbridges come in a variety of styles.

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Here is Cummer Avenue. Zoom-zoom go the cars. Sigh, go I.

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This bridge is near Weatherstone. I ignore the trail that snakes up the side of the valley.

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This hydro right-of-way shows up as a pale green band running east-west across the map.

I suppose I could just walk hydro trails; fewer high-speed bikes whirring past me, but not so many creeks babbling alongside of me.

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Across the creek again.

Are you keeping count?

I’m not. Just enjoy the walk.

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Another path leading to a real road. I think this path leads up to Pineway.

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And now I approach the bridge which is part of Finch Avenue.

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The dandelions are as lovely in the shade as in the sun.

I have noted this year that the dandelions on street verges have not been mowed. I hope that budget cuts continue. I think it a shame that city workers get paid to drive huge tractor-mowers that remove these bright flowers of cheer.

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At times the trail rises ten or twenty feet above the creek. Here the creek is decidedly murky, which probably means it is relatively deep.

The current is swift enough to carry silt in suspension.

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The view through the trees is tempting. I can see people wanting to have a quick and cooling dip on a hot day.

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More flower pairs; white and gold. Fit for a king.

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The first sign of Sheppard Avenue. As soon as I spot the home stretch my feet start to ache.

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Two kilometres to go!

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There is a pond here; signs warn us not to skate. I looked for waterfowl but saw none; perhaps they are all nesting, hatching eggs. Lord knows they’ve waited long enough ...

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There were many benches along the track.

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Another bridge! What happened to Sheppard Avenue? Two kilometres seems a lot longer when your feet are aching.

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Here is another Kinzua-style railway bridge, this one near Villaways.

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The bridge bed sits on the girders.

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The whole think looks disgustingly simple. Drop the bridge beams on three-foot square plates atop each trestle. That’s easy!

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A quiet, but murky pool while the creek catches its breath.

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1210 Sheppard. Back to the world of modern offices.

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Another bridge; I would have called this “Bridge Trail”.

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About this spot two people walking towards me bore paper cups of coffee; that’s always a good sign that I’m not far away from civilization.

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Another good sign; stop-lights peeking through the trees. Must be the intersection of Sheppard and Leslie.

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And here I am at the corner. That’s North York General Hospital on the south-east corner.

TTC

At this point the TTC let me down. Rather than wait for the bus to travel one stop into the subway station, I crossed the road to the entrance on the south-west corner.

No admittance unless you have a token or a Metropass. The TTC plays this trick a lot. I have Seniors tickets; paper. No good here.

I press the speaker phone to see if I can talk the operator into letting me in; I don’t have a problem paying for my ride. The phone at the other end rings and rings and rings and rings ...

I give up and walk up the access road at the other end of the station. The automatic doors into the concourse won’t open from the outside, and I’m not going to wait for someone to pop out.

I walk around the various barriers, fuming, clutching my ticket, ready to hand it over if challenged, and ultimately find the automatic door I popped out of two hours ago. It opens. I slide in.

No kiosk; no operator.

I ride down two escalators, clutching my ticket, ready to hand it over if challenged, and reach the ticket wicket.

No operator in sight. Which probably explains why the phone just rang and rang.

Sod it.

I hop on the next train southbound and accept the TTC’s free ride home.


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416-993-4953 CPRGreaves@gmail.com

Toronto, Wednesday, June 24, 2015 5:02 PM

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