There aren’t many neighbourhoods in more need of a park than this one in Downtown Westside. Packed with massive condo buildings and bisected by the Bathurst West Rail Yards, there’s a limited amount of green space.
Mayor JOHN TORY is battling it out with developers whose vision is more condo and office towers along with a 12-acre park over the rail corridor. The city’s plan is to forget the towers, and build a 21-acre ‘Rail Deck Park’. It can be done. CHICAGO has proven it.
Meanwhile, for TRAINSPOTTERS this is one of the best places downtown to watch rolling stock pass by – especially at rush hour.
THE BENTWAY, named after the undulating Gardiner Expressway, will eventually stretch from Strachan Avenue to Bathurst Street – a 1.75 kilometre strip linking Exhibition Place, Liberty Village, Niagara, Fort York, Bathurst Quay, Wellington Place and City Place.
A skating trail under the Gardiner Expressway? It’s a brilliant idea supported by Mayor JOHN TORY, and by the end of December/2017 it will be a new gathering place for TORONTO’s growing population.
Along with the skating trail plans include gardens, markets, art, recreational amenities, exhibits, festivals, theatre and musical performances. Unused land under the expressway is being turned into useful public space. Bravo!
A $25-million gift from the Judy and Wilmot Matthews Foundation made this possible. Ms. Matthews is a granddaughter of E. J. Lennox (1854-1933), an architect who designed many of TORONTO’s iconic buildings, including Old City Hall and Casa Loma.
THE BENTWAY is underway.
The atomic-age fountain can be found on top of the Rosehill Reservoir, which dates back to 1873-74, and was covered over in the 1960’s. It became TORONTO’s first environmentally friendly green roof, and is connected to the John Street Pumping Station 8 kilometres away.
Adjacent to the fountain – Rosehill Garden, a project of the city and fundraising neighbours, David Balfour Park and Ravine, a collection of Victorian-era homes and the best autumn colours anywhere in the inner city.
Our city’s oldest military cemetery was established by Governor Simcoe to receive bodies from nearby Fort York. His youngest daughter, Katherine, was the first to be buried here, followed by another 400 – including some casualties from the War of 1812.
Fortunately, a few of the earliest gravestones have survived, and they now form a wall of remembrance.
In the centre of the park is an impressive monument to the War of 1812, sculpted by Walter Seymour Allward. The Union Jack flies over all.
The cemetery was closed in 1863, and virtually abandoned until the late 19th century, when it was turned into a public park.
TADDLE CREEK was buried during the Industrial Age, but it left behind a scenic ravine-like footpath running from Bloor Street West to the University of TORONTO. This has been named Philosopher’s Walk.
The Creek still flows underground, but above ground the path is bounded by the Royal Ontario Museum, the Royal Conservatory of Music <PHOTO ABOVE> Koerner Concert Hall, Trinity College, the Faculty of Music at the Edward Johnson Building, and the just completed Jackman Law Building.
Faculty of Music, theatre, Edward Johnson Building
Trinity College, University of Toronto
Philosopher’s Walk Amphitheatre
Fourteen trees are planted nearby in memory of 14 women slain in Montreal on December 6, 1989. Memorial created by ‘Women Who Won’t Forget’.
Lamps at the Bloor Street entrance commemorate the 1901 visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later crowned King George V and Queen Mary). This was a project undertaken by the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire.
These folks were aligned along the edge of a wetland. Birdwatchers all, they were focused on a Tricoloured Heron, highly unusual in these parts. Its normal range is the southeastern part of the United States, and they seldom fly this far north.
<ABOVE – Tricoloured Heron, ANDY JOHNSON, ‘All About Birds’>
The LESLIE STREET SPIT is open to joggers, walkers and bikers every evening from 4:00 to 9pm, and all day on Saturdays, Sundays and Statutory Holidays. It’s closed Monday to Friday from 5:30am to 4:00pm.
The Leslie Street Spit, TORONTO’s ‘artificial-natural’ habitat, extends far out into Lake Ontario at the foot of Leslie Street. It’s getting bigger every day. The Spit was created largely from construction excavations, and is now home to numerous wild animals, birds and butterflies.