Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Ashbridge's Bay Park and The Beaches - Toronto

While, to some measure, living in a huge and growing city has some maddening aspects, at the same time there are places of beauty. As most people realize, the city - Toronto - extends for miles and miles along the north shore of Lake Ontario. Thankfully, some City Fathers had the foresight to retain much of the shoreline as one continuous park. This post deals with one of my favorite hiking areas - Ashbridge's Bay and The Beaches which are to the east of the downtown core.

Years ago an employee of the Toronto Star newspaper campaigned to create a bicycle and hiking path along much of that shoreline. That pathway (known as the Martin Goodman Trail) extends all the way from Mississauga in the west to Pickering in the east. The gap in that trail are the streets on the waterfront of the city core and the ferry docks and, even there, the trail signs exist to guide one along a public street.

As the city builds, landfill is created. This ugly mess of dirt, old concrete and boulders, when left to nature, becomes verdant green space. In three places this landfill has created beautiful parks - at the mouth of the Humber River in the west and The Leslie Street Spit (Tommy Thompson Park) as well as Ashbridge's Bay Park to the east.

                                           A family of Mallards out for a Swim

During the summer of 1996 I stayed with a friend who lived in the area known as The Beach  and, on most afternoons, I walked around Ashbridges Bay and along The Beach. Since moving to an apartment downtown I have been back to hike in that area a number of times. I am posting some photos which are a mix of summer and late spring walks. You will note the difference.

The actual Martin Goodman Trail goes right across the park but, when I am there, I walk the subsidiary trails which follow the coastline.

In one of the bays there is a marina which is sheltered from winter storms on the lake by a promontory.

On one of my hikes I encountered a young man who was standing on the bicycle path while staring under a small evergreen tree. I stopped and looked too and, after a moment or two of searching, I spotted a young garter snake. The young man asked in a heavily accented voice (he was from Eastern Europe) what was the name of the creature - and was it poisonous? I replied, "It is a garter snake and, while it has venom, it is harmless to humans". I love it when, in the middle of the city, I encounter wildlife!

On the late spring walk I saw a duck which I could not identify until a friend told me that it is a Bufflehead Duck from the Arctic which was wintering in Toronto.

There was still some ice on the bay which some waterfowl were using as a landing pad.

A wintery view across the bay to the downtown skyline (the CN Tower is in the middle of this photo but in the far distance).

To the right is the open water of the lake so, to me, this looks so cold

As did these para gliders who 'took off' from the adjoining Woodbiine Beach

At MCC Toronto we hold a Sunrise Service at Ashbridge's Bay every Easter Sunday morning.

Continuing on now to a warmer weather hike, here is a volleyball tournament at Woodbine Beach.

There are a couple of dozen 'courts' laid out on the beach sand and there is always a crowd of hopeful players

The remainder of this entry is of summer visits.

 The Beaches is a series of distinct areas one of which is Kew Gardens (named after the park in London, England).

                                                        Rhododendrons and daisies

Ever since the disaster involving Hurricane Hazel 60 years ago most of the creeks that cross the city have been left in their natural banks. One of these creeks comes down to the lake in the middle of the built up area and that watershed is a beautiful park.

A fountain and pool in that park.

There are two species of squirrels to be found in Toronto - the indigenous black squirrels and the 'interlopers' from the south - grey squirrels. 

Squirrels are like many humans - always looking for a handout! 

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