Past Walks - 2021 / 2022

Rain or shine and health protocols permitting, the Academy’s trusty band of walk leaders lead groups of members and guests as they venture forth to explore Toronto’s ravines, markets, urban art, historic buildings, cemeteries and green spaces. Walk participants share what they know about the city’s neighbourhoods, learn from the walk leaders, and “debrief” over a well-earned lunch. Polish up your walking boots and limber up those legs for the Academy walks.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022 - Huron-Wendat Trail

Thanks to Simon Pearson for leading us, on Tuesday July 19, a day on record as one of the hottest of 2022, along this somewhat far-flung but historically interesting route of the Huron-Wendat Trail. Departing from the Finch West station, seven of us headed north on Keele Street to access the trail, now the Finch Hydro Corridor and Recreational Trail. For the first 20 minutes we followed Simon along a vast expanse of grassland with hydro towers above but not a bit of shade in sight.

The path runs through the Parsons Site, a former Huron-Wendat village now considered one of the city’s major pre-European archaeological discoveries of Toronto’s Huron-Wendat heritage. Of note, the north shore of Lake Ontario, including present-day Toronto, was once the ancestral home of the Huron-Wendat people. Accomplished farmers and traders, between AD 1200 and 1600 they occupied numerous villages, mainly along rivers and creeks. We continued westward, past the Four Winds Allotment Gardens onward to Black Creek. Here, leaving the Huron-Wendat Trail, we continued on the Black Creek Trail, stopping to admire the remarkable expanse of Rudy’s Garden, established 10 years ago by then 85-year-old Rudy Riske as a community garden to bring life and beauty to one of the city’s beloved trail systems. From here we headed north along Shoreham Drive, quickly passing the National Tennis Centre, into the York University campus and finally escaping into the cool spaces of York Lanes Mall, where we settled into the dim interior of the Timbers Lodge Social Grill. Fortunately, the power outage happened after our beverages arrived and we were much cooled down by the time the power came on and our lunch orders were served. After a lengthy social, the very jazzy newish York University TTC station brought us back to the city centre. Thanks, Simon, for a very interesting if hot outing.

Rene Laukat


Tuesday, July 5, 2022 - High Park

What are the chances of rain and storm warnings on any Tuesday? Well, seems that if Josie Szczasiuk is leading an Academy Walk the chances are pretty good. So, as with Josie’s great leadership of the Humber trails walk a fortnight ago, the weather warning was out; but on  this Tuesday a TTC  power stoppage provided another challenge for those braving the weather. Despite these setbacks, five of us gathered at the north end of High Park to follow our leader - and what an interesting outing it turned out to be.
Setting our course with reference to an art route app of High Park provided by Dan, we circled the central portion of the park with its variety of statuary and displays, most of them works by international artists commissioned for Canada’s ‘67 Centennial. By the time we were admiring the peacocks at the park’s zoo, the rain had stopped and we were good to go for the rest of the tour. It included a brief stop at Colborne Lodge, built in 1836 by renowned architect John Howard. Its extensive property and home had been deeded to the city in 1873, along with the Howard family’s tomb, which arrived at the site in the park under tortuous conditions. We also toured the gorgeous gardens of the park, then retired to Grenadier Restaurant for a delicious lunch. Thanks Josie for a most interesting walk, and all for the companionship on an ultimately sunny day.
  Rene Laukat

Tuesday, June 7 2022 - Baby Point Circle

Academy Walks - ”Rain or Shine.” So it was that on a rainy Tuesday, June 7 seven intrepid all-weather walkers met at Old Mill Station to follow Donna Oke on her circle route of Baby Point. It was good to see Stephen in shorts, in a terrific colourful ensemble of purple and red, recently back from a dry English vacation. He and the rest of our group headed into the rain to the internal melodies of “Singing in the Rain” (1952), “Just Walking in the Rain”(1956) and “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” (1969). After a loop around the fabulous estates of Baby Point, we lost half the group for a variety of reasons including terrain and other commitments. The rest of us continued on a shortened but delightful route heading south-east; an hour and a half later three of us settled into the welcoming Dark Horse Tavern on Bloor Street west where we enjoyed excellent Greek fries, chicken wings and fish tacos. I’m looking forward to next Tuesday when I hope to lead you along the Beltline Trail and the Cedarvale Ravine to Mashu Mashu Mediterranean Grill. Happy trails.

Rene Laukat



Tuesday, May 3 2022 - Spring Blossom Walk

Ten of us gathered across the street from the Rosedale station at the edge of the beautiful though little-known Ramsden Park* to walk the trails for views of spring blossoms. Though the much-delayed spring held back some of its delights, there were plenty of blooms to enjoy, starting with the just-emerging pink cherry blossoms on the clutch of cherry trees at the north end of the park. Heading into Rosedale along Cluny Dr., we took the sloping trail into Severn Creek Park with its stretches of scilla, though the annual fields of this gorgeous ground cover were little in evidence. We abandoned the route into Cabbagetown via Rosedale Valley Rd. because of its steep staircase that caused a variety of mobility issues. Instead we looped back into Rosedale along Scarth and Crescent Rds. and South Dr. and were delighted by many shades of magnolia bushes. We walked through Craigleigh Gardens, stopping at the Castle Frank station where several departed the group. Heading south along Parliament, with a short loop into Cabbagetown along Wellesley and Metcalfe Sts., the remaining four of us were delighted to find Pat Maltby, who greeted us at the House of Parliament pub where she had made arrangements for lunch. Thanks all for joining me on this delightful outing.

Rene Laukat

*Ramsden Park is a public park located at 1020 Yonge St., with access via Ramsden Park Rd. and Pears Ave. With an area of 13.7 acres, it is one of the largest in downtown Toronto. It features playgrounds, basketball courts, hockey rinks and a small skateboarding feature. From the 1840s to the 1890s, it was the location of the Yorkville Brick Yards. The yellowish-white bricks produced here were used for many buildings, including Yorkville Town Hall, St. Michael's Cathedral, St. James Cathedral and much of University College. In 1904, the city purchased the land and established a park named after Alderman J. George Ramsden, a local resident active in city politics from 1903 until 1936.

September 28 - The Toronto Islands

The Toronto Islands:  a chain of 15 small islands in Lake Ontario off-shore from Toronto, originally a peninsula that was cut off from the mainland by a violent storm in 1858. It is historically sacred land of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and was purchased by the British Crown via theToronto Purchase of 1787 and 1805. This purchase waslater compensated after a land claim by the Mississaugas that resulted in an additional  payment of $145 million by the Government of Canada. Currently comprising 820 acres, with the largest outermost crescent-shaped island beingCentre Island, which with Olympic and Algonquin form thethree major islands. Of note, Ward’s Island and Hanlans Point are not really islands but are actually the eastern and western ends of Centre Island (who knew?!).

On a chilly but sunny Tuesday morning, seven of us gathered at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal for the short ferry ride to Centre Island. We wandered the trails of Centre, first stopping to admire the seven orange Tulpi chairs  gifted to the city by Dutch royalty in 2015. Then we passed the channel across Olympic Island, the now-closed CentrevilleAmusement Park and the empty Far Enough Farm. We passed the Carousal Café (closed), crossing the main bridge and heading west. Here we  passed the staged seating of the Alan Lamport Regatta Course and the Island Public and Natural Science School. We u-turned east, passing the southern beaches and onto the boardwalk,which brought us to our lunch destination. Five members fresh off the ferry joined us as we settled at a banquet table on the beautiful expanse of the enlarged gardens of theIsland Café;  a fabulous lunch was had by all. On my next walk I hope to lead you all from Christie Pits through urban parks to Liberty Village.

Happy Trails!  Rene Laukat



2021 Walks Photo Gallery- A Fun Time Was Had by All!