The Butterfly

12 July 2015 – We don’t start with the butterfly. A butterfly never enters our minds. We start in the big park next to Rosehill Reservoir just south of St. Clair Ave. E., where we peer over a fence down, down into Moore Park Ravine.

Moore Park Ravine, from David A. Balfour Park

Layer by layer, the descent; path by path, zigzagging its way down to Mud Creek, part of the Don River watershed.

Not a route we walk in snow & ice.

steps from Balfour Park down to Mud Creek

See? Well-maintained steps, but not ones to navigate in mid-winter.

But now it is summer, quite still & breathless even here under the tree canopies. We meet joggers, walkers, dog walkers, sport cyclists.

I view the graffiti on these bridge trestles with a cold eye.

a bridge spanning Moore Park Ravine

Handsome bridge — I’ve always liked the vaulted lines of these severely functional trestles — but boring artwork. If you’re going to bother at all, why not do something worth having? (I find I support the City’s legal distinction between Graffiti Vandalism, which is supressed & removed, and Graffiti Art, which is encouraged.)

The turning-point for this fairly brief walk — made brief by heat & probable showers — is Evergreen Brick Works, the historic Don Valley Brick Works now repurposed as a community environmental centre. Before we enter the EBW space itself, we linger in the Weston Quarry Garden, its water-lilies just now beginning to blossom.

Weston Quarry Gardens, next to EBW

A brick works must have bricks, which means it must also have a quarry — and this was it. The quarry pits were reinvented first, transformed into a city park to excite the imagination when the old industrial footprint was still abandoned, rusted & toxic.

Toxic no more. EBW bustles with life and purpose: to inspire & equip its visitors “to live, work and play more sustainably.” Day-camp kiddies eddy about the place with their counsellors; adult visitors stroll the grounds, wander into The Kilns, the cavernous space once reeking with heat & noise as quarry clay was baked into bricks.

Railways carried materials to and from the site, as old structures & signage remind us. “Do Not Pass When Signals Flashing…”

The Kilns, EBW

Inside, the long rows of ovens lie quiet. Unusually, the whole building is quiet, without any of the displays or events that usually bring life to the alleys between the ovens.

All the easier to admire the graffiti. Once, perhaps, graffiti-vandalism; now, graffiti-heritage.

ovens in The Kilns, EBW

After its life as a functioning brick works, and before its new life as Evergreen Brick Works, the site lay abandoned. The homeless found shelter, and told their stories on its walls. The images have been preserved, respected as part of the site’s total human heritage.

Phyllis & I stop in the EBW café for our customary mid-walk latte & Americano. Plus — because they were right in front of us, a whole pile of them — plus a blueberry scone each. Plump inside with blueberries, crunchy outside with sprinkled sugar.

Before heading off-site, we visit one of our favourite displays: the courtyard wall map of Toronto’s watersheds. It grows more wonderful by the year, as vegetation works its way up each water course. The Don River watershed is pretty well central, tentacles of green tracing its varied sources.

watershed map, EBW

Then, having come in from the north-west, we continue the loop out to the south-west, passing wetlands and a fenced off-leash dog area, where two bossy standard poodles urge us firmly on our way. We use our best dog-charmer voices; they are unimpressed.

All right, fine, and on we go. We take the trail toward Moore Park, then pause at the fingerboard where one helpful fingertip points to our diverging path on up Milkmen’s Lane.

Two passing hikers see us consulting maps and offer help. The trails are no trouble, we assure them; the challenge is to figure out Rosedale — a confusing enclave of old-money residential streets — before we climb up the lane and have to deal with the city again.

Big laugh all around.

Then one hiker does a double-take. “Look!” he cries, pointing to the back of Phyllis’ leg. She cranes her head, I do a two-step.

And …

the butterfly!


A perfect last moment, down there in the ravine.

Leave a comment


  1. A lovely summer walk – could feel the heat and slower pace.

  2. a beautiful glimpse of your summer time…

  3. Now we’ve become distracted by the thought of one of the blueberry delights!


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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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