After checking out L’Amoreaux Park and Passmore Forest, a visit to Brimley Woods Park seemed appropriate.
Their stories are very similar: they both border on the Highland Creek (albeit, Passmore Forest on the West Highland and Brimley Woods on the East Highland) and they’re both the forested remnants of rural Scarborough. Oh, and they’re both gorgeous.
Access to the woods comes from a trail off Finch Avenue. This path is part of the North Scarborough Green Loop, which uses streets, ravines, and parks to create a walking, biking, and running corridor in Agincourt & L’Amoreaux.
As expected, a look down at the East Highland produces a waterway that’s seen the effects of human interference. But what catches my eye more is the massive and thick orange canopy across the way.
The first thing I encounter in Brimley Woods is what I initially think is a jungle gym. It’s actually the first activity station in the Vita Course – a fitness ‘gauntlet’, as I think of it. My first thought was that it was installed by one of the local schools, but I suspect that it’s something separate.
The second thing I encounter: a leftover from Halloween.
With the tall tree tops above and the leaves blanketing the ground below, I get to exploring the park’s meandering paths. At 8.1 hectares, it’s big, sure, but not too big. It’s very easy to orientate oneself and very hard to get lost.
The woods were part of the farm of Marshall Macklin, an Irish pioneer who came to Upper Canada in 1828 and settled here in Scarborough. The trees themselves are 100 to 200 years old.
In History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario, Macklin is described as a Presbyterian, a Reformer, and amassing 500(!) acres of land to eventually leave to his 13(!) children. In The Township of Scarboro: 1796-1896, he is also noted as “the pioneer planter of trees along the roadsides…”, an example others apparently followed in the township. According to the Scarborough Archives, Brimley Forest was known as ‘Macklin’s Bush’ and later became a city park when the Macklin property was redeveloped.
The Macklin name lives on today in Macklin Public School and Macklingate Court, which houses the 1851 Macklin family homestead, Forest Home.
Brimley Woods is considerably larger than Passmore Forest, and according to the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority, this is an advantage because allows for interior habitat for animals. Unfortunately, I don’t spot any on this day. There are people, though!
At one point I encounter a exit/entry point off Brimley Avenue, but instead opt to keep exploring. The entire time the same recurring thought keeps circulating in my head: “This place actually exists! In Scarborough! Why haven’t I heard of or been here before?”
Where the creek runs under the street, a marker dates the piece of infrastructure. 1972. Sounds about right. The beginning of the suburbia in Scarborough.
By 1975, the Macklin farm would be completely subdivided and transformed by development. Forest Home would be integrated into its new surroundings, taking its spot at end of a cul de sac. At least we still have it and Brimley Woods. Or, as I should say, Macklin’s Bush.