The Leslie Street Spit, TORONTO’s ‘artificial-natural’ habitat, extends 5 kilometres into Lake Ontario at the foot of Leslie Street.
The Spit was created largely from construction excavations, and is now home to numerous wild animals, birds and butterflies, as well as weekend joggers, cyclists and hikers.
<PHOTO ABOVE – constructing the Spit, 1990 to 1994, City of Toronto Archives>TOMMY THOMPSON PARK is on the man-made peninsula, and contains some of the largest existing natural habitat on the TORONTO waterfront. Wildlife, especially birds, flourish in the park, making it one of the best nature-watching areas in the GTA.<PHOTO – view of the city from the park, January 16/2019> The Park contains 10 kilometres of accessible paved trail.<PHOTO – Toronto at night from Tommy Thompson Park>
<PHOTO by Frank Lennon/Toronto Star via Getty Images> Who was TOMMY THOMPSON (1913-1985)? The Park’s namesake was a TORONTO Parks Commissioner who really loved his job. Among many of his achievements was the conversion of Toronto Island into one enormous park. He’s best known for a sign in the city’s spotless network of parks – “Please Walk On The Grass”.For detailed information on The Spit, Tommy Thompson Park & other parks in the region (including opening times and photographs) go to – https://trca.ca/parks/tommy-thompson-park/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3oOh852J4AIVR57ACh1vowCuEAAYASAAEgL_yvD_BwE
<PHOTO – Ross Winter> Never having been there before. I was totally surprised by the beauty of this Scarborough park, property of the TORONTO and Region Conservation Authority.
<The Greek Theatre was built from the remnants of a Bank of TORONTO; photo – SimonP.> Located on the Scarborough Bluffs, this huge spread of grassy meadow is punctuated by large-scale relics from TORONTO’s past – mostly from the downtown Financial District. They were saved, beginning in the late 1950’s as the buildings themselves were being demolished.
<TORONTO Star Building, 80 King Street West, Chapman & Oxley Architects>
<The Osterhout Log Cabin, oldest building in Scarborough, commissioned in 1795 by John Graves Simcoe, First Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada>
<Carvings from the Bank of Nova Scotia, 39 King Street West, 1903-69>
The park is off Guildwood Parkway, east of Eglinton Avenue East and Kingston Road. Most of the area is forested and eventually leads to a ravine and Lake Ontario.
<ABOVE – the belfry of Victoria Park School>
One-time Mayor of TORONTO, president of the city’s horticultural society and long-time senator, GEORGE WILLIAM ALLAN donated a five-acre oval parcel of land to the city in 1858. It’s an early example of public philanthropy. The botanical reserve was meant to be the centerpiece of a subdivision of villa estates – patterned after Regent Park in London & Gramercy Park in New York.
A rickety pavilion was built in the centre of the oval as a concert and horticultural venue. It was torn down in 1878 and replaced by a grand three-storey enclosed structure. <PHOTO – Toronto Public Library>
A tall, cascading fountain went up outside. Management of both the park and pavilion was passed on to the taxpayers of TORONTO. ABOVE – a rare photo of the Horticultural Gardens photographed by OCTAVIUS THOMPSON and published in his “Toronto in the Camera” in 1868. The maple planted by the Prince of Wales, in 1860, is just to the left of the pavilion in front of the fence. <Toronto Reference Library>
Then the pavilion burned down, as a lot of buildings did in those days, replaced by today’s Palm House and conservatory.
For more information on Allan Gardens and its history – https://torontofamilyhistory.org/simcoesgentry/5/allan-gardens
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.
<ONTARIO PLACE, May 5/1971, a few weeks before it opened. PHOTO – Graham Bezant, Toronto Star Archive>
<Summer at Ontario Place before the 2011 shut down> There were a lot of sad faces in 2011 when the province decided to shut down TORONTO’s waterfront theme park and tourist attraction. Ontario Place wasn’t generating enough revenue to offset the funds needed to keep it alive.The government had plans to re-open the site eventually, but artists, dancers and musicians from around the world jumped the gun in September/2016. They’re showing the potential of the 14-acre island site – IMAX films made in the 1970’s screened at Cinesphere, 45 musical and stage performances, outdoor sculptures, photography and paintings in the silos.
The goal of the In/Future Festival was to give local artists and arts organizations a platform to showcase their talents on a much bigger stage. Festival founder and co-curator LAYNE HINTON: “This is a temporary transformation of the area, but I hope it’ll reflect what could happen in the future at the site.”
See what Ontario Place looks like right now at http://www.blogto.com/arts/2016/09/this_is_what_ontario_place_looks_like_right_now/
Christie Pits, 750 Bloor Street West at Christie, is a 22 acre park boasting baseball diamonds, basketball courts, a soccer/rugby football field, an ice rink, splash pad – and now one of the largest summertime outdoor film festivals.
Founder EMILY REID – “I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished. I think we’re really challenging our audience with less than mainstream titles. This is the most ambitious program we’ve ever put on.” The Christie Pits Film Festival runs from June 26 to August 28. Subway stop – CHRISTIE. For more info go to http://www.christiepitsff.com