Trekking through Toronto’s History from Muir Gardens to the Granite Brewery

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The intrepid Academy walkers at Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens
The intrepid Academy walkers at Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens

Ken Snelson and Sandra Clarke led Academy walkers through Alexander Muir Memorial Gardens and Blythwood Ravine on July 2, 2019. The start of the walk in the Lawrence Park neighbourhood was appropriate on the day after Canada Day because Muir Gardens are dedicated to the memory of the Toronto teacher who penned the patriotic anthem, "The Maple Leaf Forever" in 1867, the year of Confederation.

At the start of our trek, Academy walkers posed in front of a memorial wall honouring Alexander Muir. The words of "The Maple Leaf Forever" are carved on the wall behind them. Muir's lyrics reflect British Imperialist attitudes of many English Canadians of that era with no mention of Indigenous Peoples or French-speaking Canadians: "In days of yore, from Britain's shore, Wolfe the dauntless hero came, and planted firm Britannia's flag on Canada's fair domain." Muir's anthem used to be sung in many Ontario schools, but was gradually overtaken in popularity by "O Canada" in English and French.

Located near Yonge and Lawrence, these gardens were paid for by donations from citizens of Toronto. The park was originally located at Yonge and Davisville, but had to be moved for the construction of the Davisville subway yard in 1951.

With the verses of "The Maple Leaf Forever" ringing in their ears, Academy walkers explored the lovely wooded trails in Blythwood Ravine.

Chief organizer of the Academy's walks, Ken Snelson, sported a special T-shirt. Like a Guaranteed Investment Certificate, Ken is increasing in value to the Academy every year.

When we walked through Sherwood Park, comedy writer and marketing guru Michael Cole posed in front of a striking mural which echoes Group of Seven paintings of the Canadian Shield.

Our reward for trekking through the ravines was a cool beverage and the camaraderie of lunch with Academy colleagues on the patio of the Granite Brewery on Mt. Pleasant Road. This quaint pub features many nooks and crannies where you can find Stan Laurel quietly playing chess. A good time was had by all, and we invite Academy members to join the next walk and lunch.