Bridges & Water

6 April 2015 – Imagine me up there on the Prince Edward (aka Bloor) Viaduct, suddenly noticing this colourful retaining wall and wanting a closer look. Fortunately, I don’t have to resort to a spot of base jumping. Its illegality & my cowardice aside, leaping from that bridge is now impossible: it has been jump-proofed.

Prince Edward (Bloor) Viaduct, from trail below

Safe, easy, legal access? Down Pottery Rd to the Don River, and south on the trail.

Pottery Road access to Route 45

The trail parallels the Don Valley Parkway for a bit, then drops into the valley. Highway up there to my left, city towers on distant skylines — but down here, only the trail, slowly awakening nature, water and bridges.

Like this railway bridge, crossing the Don to soar up one edge of the Evergreen Brick Works.

railway bridge over the Don, with the Brick Works behind

Tagging on every trestle. Not what I think of as art; just tags. (I know, I know: if you can read them they are ripe with messages. But I cannot read them, and they are not beautiful, so they offer me nothing.)

Sometimes the bridge itself is beautiful. The wonderful radiating curves of this next low bridge, for example, draw my grateful eye away from the uninspired tagging beneath it.

low bridge over the Don, between Brick Works & Bloor Viaduct

I suppose this next painted statement is also uninspired … it is certainly unoriginal … but I am charmed.

along Route 45 South

My mind flashes back to the Leuty Lifeguard Station  I showed you recently, with its Happy Face addition, and I wonder: when did I become such a sucker for this stuff?

I don’t wonder for long, because I see another stretch of trail adored with the type of bright yellow squiggles I’ve seen on bike trails before — but, until now, always from a bridge looking down. The symbols are enigmatic. The work of midnight druids with a paint-pot?

yellow symbols on Route 45 South

Then I look closer, form my hypothesis, and have it confirmed a bit farther down the trail.

trail markings

Not the work of druids at all — unless they are also city employees, that is, marking cracks that need repair. The outline shows a whole area needing work; the chevrons signal the sunken patch between.

I squint at the blue ripple beyond, how appropriate so close to a river, and then laugh at the stencil message.

also trail markings!

“Don was here”? It doesn’t exactly seem official, does it? Yet we are next to the Don River, and the ripple, and the message, are repeated at intervals down the trail.

By now I’m opposite the colourful retaining wall section that drew my attention while crossing the Viaduct. It’s not that any of the panels look particularly interesting — it’s just that they go on and on.

And on.

retaining wall graffiti north of the Bloor Viaduct

But now I can get closer, so I do. I clamber up through the brush and the muck (oh, you should see my boots) for a closer look  …

panels on the retaining wall

… which also involves crossing that railway track. After looking both ways, of course! (Though, given the amount of rust on the rails, I doubt it’s active.)

As I start back through the muck to the trail, I eye all the construction work being done on Viaduct trestles. Then I spot the message added to a box on-site, and laugh. (Later, cleaning my boots, I keep that redeeming laugh in mind.)

Viaduct constuction site

Soon I’m well south of the Viaduct, closing in on the access stairs up to the pedestrian bridge that spans the Don, linking the two sides of Riverdale Park.

And then I’m at the stairs. Up, up the steps — where I meet a dog hell-bent on down-down the steps. Alas, his owner has other plans, and the owner holds the determining end of the leash. A moment’s quick-shuffle realignment of feet and paws, and they take off. (Across-across, not down-down.)

I linger, look over the tagged railing to yet more bridges beyond.

bridges over the Don River, from the Riverdale Park bridge

Three that I can see, one of them reflected perfectly in the river below. I know the Don will pass under a few more again, before it finally flows into Lake Ontario.


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  1. bobgeor

     /  7 April 2015

    I like those ‘Don Was Here’ markings. There was a couple at Todmorden Mills that are now gone.

    • Do you know who/what they are?

      • bobgeor

         /  7 April 2015

        Oh, yes, of course! It’s a public art installation which marks to the route of the Don before it was straightened at the end of the 19th century. There’s a bunch of them along the Don Recreational Trail all the way up to Todmorden.

      • This is terrific — I hope I’ll remember to mention this (with credit) in my next post. It’s a bit like the canoes that mark the path of the now-suberged/lost Garrison Creek down to the lake…

  2. Thank you Penny – people seem determined to make their mark – interesting to read bobgeor’s comments on the route of the Don –


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

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