Near the heart of Scarborough, in a neighbourhood known as Midland Park, one can find Birkdale Ravine.
The entrance to Birkdale Ravine is marked with the expected Parks signage as well as one funded by Livegreen Toronto, but as I get into the park, there’s a wooden post also lovingly welcoming me. But sadly, it isn’t marking the start of the trail or personally wishing me well on my hike. No, the Birkdale Ravine must’ve held a race here some time.
Running through the ravine is the West Highland Creek. The Highland Creek as a whole snakes diagonally from its mouth in Port Union to L’Amoreaux. Its watershed and ecosystem encompasses the majority of Scarborough (the Rouge River making up a small portion).
The first thing I notice out the creek is that it’s depleted and not very fast flowing, but above all, it’s naturalized. The portions of the Highland I’m used to – the parts north and west of here – have all been channelized with the creek flowing on a bed of concrete.
Over by the stream, there’s some activity too. On one side of a bridge (the first of two here), there’s a pair of individuals wading in its waters. On the other side, a flock of Canada geese take their rest.
A great thing about Birkdale ravine is its physical connections to the surrounding community. There are five access points to the park (and the two main ones at Ellesmere and Brimley). Some neighbourhoods are defined by their parks (Trinity Bellwoods, Withrow Park), and, it’s amazing for the people of Midland Park to have this gem literally in their backyards.
The path ends at Brimley Road, where there’s a marker from the Scarborough Historical Society. The north bank of the ravine, where I just came from, was the site of a Wendat village excavated in 1956. The plaque also mentions a burial ground in a park east of here. There’s a great Historicist piece on that.
With that, it’s the end of my trek. Highland Creek continues south through Thomson Park, but that’s for another day. I make a plan to explore this waterway little by little.