Slantwise through Taylor Creek Park

27 July 2014 — Slantwise by necessity, since the park itself runs at a slant through a good chunk of east-central Toronto, a sheath around Taylor Creek as it flows westward to the Don River, which then carries its waters on south to Lake Ontario.

Dense city on both sides, but here in the park… nature.

bullrush in Taylor Creek Park

My first shot of the day, though, isn’t in the park. It’s in an alley. (You are not surprised.) I’m not looking for alley art, just taking a shortcut north from Danforth & Dawes Road up to the park entrance. Not much going on in the alley, either, just some boring tags, plus one mediocre mural.

Someone — perhaps another artist — thinks “mediocre” is far too kind a description. He is moved to comment. I photograph his comment.

on an alley mural n. of Main St. subway stn, Danforth Av.

Um, well, I’m still not convinced this is the world’s worst graff[ito] … but I’m pretty sure this critic is one os the world’s worste [sic] spellers.

Giggle giggle, and 5 minutes later I’ve dropped down into the park. For all its modest scale, this creek is a major tributary of the Don River, and the surrounding 182-acre park is one of central Toronto’s largest natural areas, an important part of the wildlife migration corridor through the city.

Taylor Creek, near park entrance off Dawes Rd.

I’m still on a dirt trail by the creek but look across the paved main path on my left, which carries the stroller/rollerblade/bicycle traffic. I can see tall grasses, wildflowers and what looks like another faint dirt trail disappearing into the undergrowth.

Taylor Creek Park

So I cross, and yes there is a bit of path, and on I go.

path in Taylor Creek Park

It winds close to a big spread of bullrushes …

pondside bullrushes, Taylor Creek Park

… which in turn pulls me to a hidden pond.

pond within Taylor Creek Park

Reverse gears, I double back to the paved path and across it to creek-side once more. Because this narrow park slices its way through such dense urbanization, there are many access routes on both sides of the creek back up to city streets. There are also quite a few pedestrian bridges across the creek itself.

a pedestrian bridge across Taylor Creek

“Pedestrian” being loosely interpreted to include dogs, strollers, & bicycles as well as human feet. Two of these bridges are currently being replaced, the old ones having been damaged beyond repair in the 2012 floods.

I keep striding along, enjoying the exuberance, the sheer energy, of the vegetation. It was a tough winter for some plant life, but this is a great summer for everything that thrives on frequent gentle rain and moderate heat.

I see some oddities, too.

The world’s scaliest tree bark, for example. Where are the identifying plaques when you really need one?

tree, Taylor Creek Park

Later I peer down into a tangle of raspberry canes, and look! First berries.

wild raspberries, Taylor Creek Park

Dawes Road is the only place where the park itself is at street level. Otherwise, we glide through untouched, with soaring bridges — like this one at O’Connor Dr. — to carry cross-route traffic overhead. Down here, traffic is on two wheels, following Route 22 in the Taylor Creek Regional Trail. And obeying the posted speed limit: 20 km/hr.

the O'Connor Dr. bridge over Taylor Creek Park

The geometry of the bridge struts is softened by mid-summer wildflowers and grasses.

O'Connor Dr.bridge over Taylor Creek Park

Soon afterwards, I find myself at a landmark, a sculptural landmark both within the park system and for motorists whizzing past on the Don Valley Parkway.

I’ve reached The Molars!

Elevated Wetland Sculptures (aka The Molars)

Of course that’s not the real name, the real name is: Elevated Wetland Sculptures.

These guys are very dramatic, very large, and also very functional. The series of molar-shaped planters is designed to showcase the importance of wetlands in the ecosystem. A solar-powered pump lifts water from the Don River into the planters, where the native trees & shrubs remove pollutants as the water cascades from one container to the next, finally dropping into a natural wetland and ultimately back into the Don.

The Molars also mark the western end of Taylor Creek Park, the place where it — and the creek itself — merge into the Lower Don Parklands. Phyllis and I have made various Tuesday Walking Society outings in those parklands, but today I head north instead. Still in green space, headed through Charles Sauriol Conservation Area toward E.T Seaton Park, and beyond that Sunnybrook Park, and then Edwards Gardens, and then Toronto Botanical Garden …

But I’m not going that far, I’m going to climb up to street level at Eglinton Avenue and catch a bus for home. If I chant all those park names at you, it is only to celebrate this glorious concentration of creeks and river and green space in the heart of the city.

I pass some trail signs warning that the speed limit in this stretch has been lowered to 15 km/hr, and then another sign — on an adjacent trail — warning that that path is for horses & riders only. I blink, and then remember the big stables up in Sunnybrook Park.

Then I pass an unofficial sign on a bit of railing, the only graffito I see in the entire parkland walk.

someone's urgent message, E.T. Seaton Park

I take care to skirt the Disc Golf course as I walk through E.T. Seaton Park. Though my camera is still in my hand, my mind is already up on Eglinton looking for a bus.

Then off to one side in the distance, half-hidden by trees & shrubs, I see some bright repetitive shapes that I cannot decipher.

Bee hives in a mini-apiary? Seems unlikely. Posts for some construction project? Seems more likely. Still … how odd. So I swerve to the right, duck behind this grove of trees and around that line of tall grasses, and realize the shapes are very securely enclosed by a high wire-mesh fence.

public archery range, E.T. Seaton Park

Which is a prudent thing to do, when you lay out a public archery range in a city park. Another safety precaution: no crossbows allowed.

I knew about all the other stuff — horses & disc golf & bikes/kids/dogs — but the archery is a whole new discovery.

What a nice way to end the walk.

I cling to that happy discovery, once I’m up on Eglinton Av. East. I am determined to remain mature & cheerful as I stomp around in noise & traffic, trying to find where they’ve hidden the temporary bus stop amid all the construction chaos. Two buses go by while I search. (They have no choice, since deep roadwork chasms yawn between us.)

I will be mature. I will be cheerful.



Leave a comment


  1. Amazing surroundings! Thanks for sharing all that beauty.

    Have a nice week,

  2. Wendy

     /  27 July 2014

    I read waste graff not worste [sic] graff…? Does that make a meaning in graffiti speak? Wendy

    • So interesting — I still see ‘worste’ (& can’t think of a meaning for ‘waste’), but who knows? I guess we can agree that the critic’s handwriting isn’t very clear. Stylish yes, but not clear

  3. Another interesting walk – by the way like your quotes especially the one by Proust. Enjoyed going through the greenery of the city – it shows the presence of ‘lungs’. Of course your usual very readable ‘story’ illustrates the pictures. I remember a walk round the Toronto Botanical Gardens – also went to Group of 7 Gallery

    • Ah, so I am able to awaken your own memories. Did you visit the McMichael Collection to see the Group of 7 works — the McMichael is in Kleinburg, a small community north of Toronto — or see them in the city at the AGO? Thanks to the magnificent Ken Thomson donations, the AGO now has an excellent collection as well.

      • Yes I did visit the McMichael Collection and a friend sends me a Group of 7 calendar every year. I have also introduced my Art Appreciation Group to the work of the Group

  4. Your tours make me proud of the greenery activists have managed to preserve in the city!

    • They have done, are doing, us a huge favour. One of the greatest ‘greenery acivists,’ of course turned out to be Hurricane Hazel. It demonstrated what can happen if you ignore nature and flood plains, and it came at the right moment for public opinion and activist civic politicians to preserve/expand ravine lands as parks. So we owe Hazel a lot.


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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

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