Under the Power Lines

18 October 2015 – Enough art! (Well, for now.) Time for some urban nature. So here we are, all two of the Tuesday Walking Society, ready to put boots to trail — a trail we’ve never walked before. Bonus!

Also bonus: a hit of fine graphic art announces the trail.

Pan Am Path, at Vic Park & Eglinton

We’re entering a segment of the Pan Am Path, another legacy of this summer’s Pan Am Games. And what a legacy: more than 80 km of multi-use trail that follows major rivers and our lakefront to weave its way from the Humber River (west end) to the Rouge (east).


Part of the weave is nowhere near rivers or lake. It lies beneath city power lines, all along the new Gatineau Hydro Corridor that runs from Victoria Park Av., above Eglinton, on north-east to Kennedy Rd.

And that’s exactly where we start. A long bus ride out Eglinton, a short walk on up Vic Park, and in we go.

Train and power-line corridors are typically unused — weedy discards, since they cannot be used for residential or commercial purposes. It’s a treat to see how they can be rescued, and turned back to residents & visitors for sheer enjoyment. Gatineau, I later learn, is just one of 7 such corridors in the project, which in total has added some 30 km of new multi-use trail to our recreational resources.

So the weather may be iffy — sunny one moment, dark clouds the next — but Phyllis & I walk on east with absolute delight. To one side, people’s homes behind the corridor boundary; then the sweep of grassland & path; to the other side, some commercial buildings.

One of them has a banner message for everyone on the Corridor. Each end (cropped from this shot) shows the silhouettes of various birds.

just off the Pan Am Path

Right! we say, and obediently look up — closer — between the power lines.

along the Gatineau Corridor

Dark sky, clouds, no birds.

But look over there, in that residential back yard, birds a-plenty — and why not? The yard is crammed with bird houses. We walk closer, fascinated.

The closer you get, the better it is. What I initially take for one huge bird house is in fact a whole festoon of them, piled onto one pole.

backyard bird houses, next to Gatineau Corridor

The corridor is always quite narrow, but there is varied terrain, even so. This part, for example, has parkland-smooth grass, with a generous planting of trees, now turning yellow with the fall.

route sign, Gatineau Corridor

Other places, we see great ragged swaths of wild plants, doing what they do this time of years.

Milkweed pods, for example, bursting and throwing their silk (and their seeds) into the wind. A gust shoots a great spray of seeds into the air as we watch.

milkweed pods in action

Then, later, a large and clearly much-loved and well-tended community allotment garden. No sign announcing whose it is, but obviously permitted by the authorities and supported by local residents.

allotment garden, Gatineau Corridor

Initially we see only occasional cyclists (cooler day, week-day, right after a holiday weekend); later on, more people out walking, whether alone, with toddlers or with tongue-flapping happy dogs.

Past Kennedy Rd. we follow the Corridor branch south back to Eglinton, then drop down Kennedy a bit to pick up a diagonal path running south-west beside train tracks to St. Clair.

Not paved, this bit; I’m not even sure it is an official part of the Pan Am Path, but I think so — and anyway, who cares, it takes us where we want to go.

rail line corridor path

A stretch along St. Clair East, and a mural, close to the Warden subway station. We’re admiring it when a nice young man, seeing the Explore map in Phyllis’ hands, asks if he can help us find wherever it is we want to go. We explain we’ve stopped to look at the mural. It’s a commissioned tribute, by street artist Omen, to the historical roots of this part of Scarborough.

detail, Scarborough Junction mural at St. Clair & Warden

He turns, admires it with us. Then he shakes his head, laughs. “I live here, and I’ve never really looked at it! But, it’s a good thing, isn’t it? People making a contribution, making something more beautiful for the rest of us.”

On that happy note, we wish each other well & head our separate ways.

Phyllis and I now cross Warden Av. and drop into familiar territory: Warden Woods Park, which will take us on south-west along Taylor Creek to Pharmacy Av., just north of the Danforth.

Hello, creek! Eventually you feed into the Don River, and we have followed you many kilometres, on various walks on various occasions, along the way.

Taylor Creek, in Warden Woods Pak

2015, Phyllis & I agree, has not been a vintage year for fall colour. But even less than vintage is still pretty swell.

autumn leaves, in Warden Woods Park

And so it goes, finally out to Danforth Av., where we start the final stage of our walk — west, and more west, block by block, agreeing we’ve walked a good distance & we can in honour jump on transit again as soon as we’re tired or bored.

Except we aren’t tired (our legs must be on auto-pilot by now) and we’re not bored (Danforth is never boring), so we just … keep walking. Next thing we know, we’re at Broadview Av., where Phyllis really does have to get on the subway for home.

I check my pedometer: 18 km.

Hurray for us!


Leave a comment


  1. DJ

     /  16 October 2015

    You and Phyllis — and I confess, the Blue Jays (Go Jays!!) make me wish I could be in Toronto.

  2. Love the walk through. Thank you.

  3. You were in my neighbourhood! That is the walk I think I promised to take you on years ago. I am so sorry I didn’t get to make it with you!

    • Now I know why you love the walk. Has the corridor been that for a long time? I had the impression it was relatively recent… but don’t really know. Anyway, new for me.

      • to be fair I ride my bike! and not all the connections were there.

  4. Great walk! How could one possibly be bored!

  5. bobgeor

     /  18 October 2015

    Love me that mural. Gotta go see it.


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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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