Rain or shine - and COVID-19 permitting - from May to October, the Academy’s trusty band of walk leaders lead groups of members and guests as they venture forth to explore Toronto’s ravines, cemeteries, markets, urban art, historic buildings, 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 August 09 - Toronto Waterfront, Past and Present
Leader: Simon Pearson
Meet: Southeast corner of Mill St. and Parliament St. at the west end of the Distillery District.
Three TTC routes:
- Take 65 Parliament bus south from Castle Frank subway station to Front St. and then walk one block south to Mill St.
- Take 504 King streetcar eastbound from King subway station to Parliament St. and then walk two blocks south to Mill St.
- Stay on the 504 to the Distillery loop & then walk back through the Distillery to Parliament
Route: We’ll start near the Distillery District (which used to be on the waterfront) and finish near Fort York (which also used to be on the waterfront!). The waterfront has always been an essential part of Toronto. But the waterfront has changed constantly over the years, and it has moved a considerable distance in that time. This walk will let you see some of these changes while you experience the pluses and minuses of the waterfront as we see it today. We will end at Bathurst St. and Fort York Blvd. Take 511 Bathurst streetcar north to Bathurst subway station or take 509 Harbourfront streetcar east to Union subway station.
Lunch: Fox and Fiddle Cityplace
Tuesday August 23 - Hogg’s Hollow in North York
Leader: Ann Garnett
Meet: SOUTH exit of the York Mills TTC station (i.e., get off at the back end of the train and exit through the turnstile at the south end).
Route: We will explore the neighbourhood. Many of the original estate homes and beautiful residences of the early to mid-20th century are being demolished in favour of large new homes but there are still many lovely homes to see on our walk.
James Hogg , a Scotsman settled in the area in 1824. He operated a whisky distillery and a grist mill. His sons built 149 houses, a school, post office, pottery, blacksmith, livery, stable, store, golf links and clubhouse, The hillside cemetery (Yonge Street and Mill Street) and St. John's Anglican Church are still there. In 1892, the streetcar service extended up Yonge Street to the southern rim of Hoggs Hollow.
On October 15, 1954, the valley was inundated by Hurricane Hazel, and many attempts have since been made to manage water in the natural watershed of a valley, though many homes are still prone to moisture and flooding from the water table.
On March 17, 1960, the incident popularly known as the "Hoggs Hollow Disaster" occurred. Five Italian immigrant workers were killed while constructing a tunnel for a water main at Hoggs Hollow. They were trapped 35 feet underground in a cramped, dimly lit tunnel, sparking a public outcry over the lack of safety standards in construction. and led to an improvement in working conditions, such as the passing of the Industrial Safety Act.
Lunch: Miller Tavern (formerly the Jolly Miller Tavern)
Tuesday Sept 06 – Sunnyside Beaches
Leader: Simon Pearson
Meet: Northeast corner of Roncesvalles & Queen (access via the Queen or King streetcar or by the 504 streetcar down Roncesvalles from Dundas West station)
Route: This walk goes along a part of the Lake Ontario shoreline that you may well not have walked recently. It goes through grassy parkland and includes reminders of Canada’s roads, rail, and entertainment history. Lots of birds too. We will end at Marine Parade Drive west of the Humber bridge. 66B bus to Old Mill Station.
Lunch: Firkin on the Bay, Marine Parade Drive
Tuesday Sept 13 – Toronto Island
Leader: Donna Oke
Meet: Ferry to Centre Island
Route: Tour Children’s Garden and Promenade of Flower Gardens and Fountains on Centre Island. Walk Boardwalk to the ‘Riviera’ restaurant and if time allows have a short tour of distinctive ‘Cottages’ of Wards Island before catching the ferry back to main terminal.
Lunch: ‘Riviera’ restaurant
Our Walking Adventures
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.
Tuesday, July 5, 2022 - High Park
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.
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.
*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 Hanlan’s 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