Tag Archives: scarborough

Scenes From Scarborough Museum, Thomson Memorial Park, and Tabor Hill

If one wants to learn about the roots of Scarborough, Thomson Memorial Park in Bendale is a pretty good place to start. After all, it is located on the historic property of the Thomson family – the first European settlers in Scarboro Township. Thomson Park also houses Scarborough Museum, which serves to tell the history of the Thomsons and the borough. More than that though, Bendale embodies and showcases the great layers of Scarborough: from its pre-contact period to rural pioneers to post-WWII multicultural suburbia.

Scarborough Museum Thomson Settlement
Scarborough Museum, which offers pay-what-you-can admission, is a collection of structures: Cornell House, McCowan Log House, Hough Carriage Works, and the Kennedy Gallery.  Together, they form a sort of scaled back version of Black Creek Pioneer Village.

After arriving in the township in the late 1700s, Scottish immigrants David and Mary (née Glendinning) Thomson followed an old aboriginal trail to a thickly wooded bush on the banks of the Highland Creek. Their task was tall: clear the property and make it inhabitable. In 1802, they patented 200 acres on  lot 24 concession 1 (today’s the east side of Brimley at Lawrence). David’s brother, Andrew Thomson, patented 200 acres on the adjacent lot 23 to the east.

Although none of the museum buildings themselves were part of the Thomson property, they originate from different areas of Scarborough and belonged to noteworthy families in the township. The artefacts within the museum also mostly originate within Scarborough, including a few items belonging to the Thomsons.

Scarborough Museum
Cornell House fronts Scarborough Museum, and was the museum’s first structure in 1962. Originally located at Markham and Ellesmere, it was built for Matilda and Charles Cornell in the 185os. The Cornell family sold the property in the 20th century to the Lye family. It was saved from demolition in 1961 and transported to Thomson Park. (One can imagine a building on wheels, meandering through Scarborough.)

Scarborough Museum Cornell House

A highlight of Cornell House is the wood and coal burning oven. A large part of Scarborough Museum’s programming is food preparation, and the oven plays a central role in that. (I enjoyed a delicious chocolate cookie during my visit.) For the Cornells, it also ingeniously heated the bedrooms above with wood during the day and coal at night.

The parlour room has an amazing collection of musical instruments.  Unknown to me was Scarborough has very musical roots, apparently. It also speaks to the detail and amount of artefacts within the museum. There is something in every room that catches the eye and has a story.

Cornell House Parlour Room
Cornell House bedroom

If Cornell House represents a second generation house (that is, the kind of house the children of pioneers would aspire to build), McCowan Log House might be a first-gen home. It dates from the 1830s to a William Porteous McCowan of Malvern – the same McCowan for which the street is named. Much like Cornell House, it was rescued by the Scarborough Historical Society in the 1970s and added to the museum.

McCowan Log House

McCowan Log House is built primarily of wood and consists of a main cooking/living room (with a very hearty fireplace used for more historic cooking programs) and two bedrooms. McCowan lived in the home with his mother and sister, thus the two rooms. In terms of cabins, the house is actually spacious with additions McCowan undertook on the structure.

McCowan Log House bedroom

The crib in the foreground belonged to the Thomsons.

The Thomsons built their own log house out of pine and oak, too. When he wasn’t working his land, David was a mason in Scarboro and the Town of York. Mary’s tasks were concentrated in the house, but when David was absent, Scarborough historian Robert Bonis writes she was left “to face the dangers of the forest alone with her children”. He recounts how wolves would jump on the roof of their cabin and gnaw at the door. My favourite anecdote of his, though, is Mary boldly wielding an axe to scare off a bear trying to make off with a pig! A plaque honouring Rhoda Skinner and other pioneering women stands behind the main building. Skinner was the wife of William Cornell, father of Charles Cornell.

Rhoda Skinner Scarborough Pioneer

Hough Carriage Works is a recreation of the original Hough Carriage Works which stood at Birchmount and Eglinton. This establishment was responsible for building and repairing wagons and more. Interestingly, it also functioned as a gathering point because it served an entire community, so it allowed residents to conduct business with each other.

Hough Carriage Works

Hough Carriage Works Penny Farthing

A penny-farthing, also known as a boneshaker for the toll it takes on a rider’s body.

Finally, the Kennedy Gallery is adaptive reuse at work.  Formerly a 1920s garage from the Lyman Kennedy farm in Agincourt, it is now rotating exhibition space. On until March 2016 is a neat exhibit about Frances Tweedie Milne and her writings in the context of rights and the Magna Carta.

Scarborough Museum Frances Tweedie Milne

Facebook in the 19th century: “Killed 10 pigs today. Men cut them up, Margaret and I salted them. Tired now.”

Exiting Scarborough Museum, Thomson Park is very expansive. The Thomsons used the area as a gathering point before they gifted it to become a public park in 1962, so it enjoys that continuity. It hosts an exercise circuit and a number of seating pavilions, which come in great use at the annual Scarborough Ribfest. The west branch of Highland Creek also winds through the park.

West Highland Creek

Somewhat hidden within the history of Thomson Park is the former Canadian Northern Ontario Railway. I first encountered this now defunct railway at Taylor Creek Hydro Corridor. From East York, it passed northeast through Scarborough and the western edge of this park. By 1926 however, it was abandoned and the tracks were removed.

Thomson Park Canadian Northern Ontario Railway

The Canadian Northern Ontario Railway roughly followed this path. An embankment is also still visible where it crossed Highland Creek.

Thomson Park 1956

Thomson Memorial Park area, 1956. The Canadian Northern Ontario Railway right of way is still visible. Source: City of Toronto Archives.

St. Andrews Road sits atop a ridge as it slinks from Brimley down to McCowan, echoing the route of Highland Creek to its south. It’s definitely a throwback road. For the Thomsons, the road network in the 19th and early 20th centuries mostly consisted of the main roads that essentially formed property boundaries – except for St. Andrews which curiously shows up in early maps.

St. Andrew's Road

In 1818, David Thomson donated part of his land to a congregation started by his brother Andrew and others. The result was a 30 by 40 foot frame church that would become St. Andrew’s Presbyterian – the first church in Scarborough. The street serving the church was appropriately named “Church Lane”, now St. Andrews Road. What stands today is the second St. Andrew’s Church, built in 1849.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
Historic St. Andrews Road also houses a number of other early landmarks such the 1896 Scarborough Centennial Library, and St. Andrews Cemetery, which is the resting spot for a who’s who of Scarborough pioneers. The oldest brick building in Scarborough, Springfield, the 1840 home of  James A. Thomson is also found here.

Scarborough Memorial Library
Following the Gatineau Hydro Corridor back down through the park, I cut through Scarborough General Hospital to Lawrence Avenue. The hospital dates from 1952 with its distinctive circular tower coming in 1968. It’s the major landmark at McCowan and Lawrence today, but historically the honour might have gone to Bendale’s post office.

Scarborough General Hospital

Bendale 1878

1878 Map of Scarboro Township. The 1878 community of Benlomond was renamed Bendale in 1881 to avoid confusion with a nearby town that already had the moniker. Source: Old Toronto Maps.

I don’t realize it at the time passing by it, but the subdivision north of Lawrence between McCowan and Bellamy features streets that all begin with “Ben”. Quirky? You bet.

Ben Jungle

The Ben Jungle subdivision dates from 1956.

Finally, Tabor/Taber Hill Park on Bellamy was the site of a 13th century Huron-Wendat ossuary. It was discovered in 1956 after the hill was set to be leveled to accommodate a new subdivision. Construction immediately stopped, excavations began, and at the end of it, the hill was preserved with a monument to the ancient burial mound. An excavated village on the north banks of Birkdale Ravine also connects to Tabor Hill. As I ascend the hill, there’s a family and their dog who had the same idea. They ask me to snap a portrait of them. I oblige.

Tabor Hill Park

Tabor Hill
Tabor Hill Iroquois Prayer
The view from Tabor Hill is provocative. All around is suburbia. The faint outline of CN Tower is even visible from this perspective. But none of it was here 700 years ago. The next people to see Scarborough as the Wendats saw it were the Thomsons. But the Scarborough David and Mary left was different than the Wendats’ Scarborough and different still than 2016’s Scarborough. And yet, all three realities seem to converge in this one spot.

Tabor Hill lookout

Tabor Hill looking northeast

Useful Links

A Long Walk From Toronto – “The Gatineau Hydro Corridor” by Carolyn Harris

Adam G. Mercer (Graeme Mercer), Charles Pelham Mulvany, Christopher Blackett Robinson – History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario

Andrew Chadwick – The Scots Kirk an oral history of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Scarborough

David Boyle, editor – The Township of Scarborough, 1796 to 1896

Globe and Mail – “Vibrant Scarborough now in cyberspace” by Dave LeBlanc

Metro news – “‘Ben’ a theme of unknown origin” by Rick McGinnis

Rick Schofield – Home Sweet Scarborough

Robert Bonis – A History of Scarborough

Spacing Toronto – “Ford Fest Scarborough – Revisiting Bendale circa 2004” by Shawn Micallef

The Scarborough Hospital – “Milestones”

Toronto Dreams Project – “Scarborough’s 700 Year-Old Burial Mound” by Adam Bunch

Toronto Museums – “Statement of Significance – Scarborough Museum”

Torontoist – “Historicist: Tabor Hill Ossuary” by David Wencer

Virtual Museum – “Bendale: About Place”

Scenes From Kennedy & Lawrence

The White Shield Plaza hugs the northwest corner of Kennedy Road and Lawrence Avenue. Without any disrespect to the mall (which hosts Flipper’s and other tenants) though, my eye goes to two restaurants just off the strip mall.

Kennedy & Lawrence Strip Mall

On first look, Harry’s Drive-In looks of another era. And that’s because it is. Immediately I think of Johnny’s Hamburgers at Victoria Park and Sheppard. It’s a small shack of a burger joint that slightly compensates for its lack of space inside with a tiny patio outside. Even the name is to the point. No gimmicks. My observation is pretty bang on, too: it’s been here since the 1960s.

Harry's Drive-In
Beside Harry’s, there’s Nova Ristorante – a sitdown Pizza Nova restaurant. The first Pizza Nova. Sam Prumicci and his brothers opened the shop here in Scarborough in 1963. One thinks of the pizza chain as a takeout/delivery place, but restaurants have been part of its past and present.

1st Pizza Nova Scarborough

The Hellenic Home for the Aged sits on the southeast corner of the intersection. Before the home however, there was a hydro station here.

Kennedy & Lawrence

Kennedy & Lawrence 1960

Kennedy & Lawrence Hydro Station, 1960. Source: City of Toronto Archives.

Mike Myers Drive, which was (re)named for the Scarborough comedian in 2002, slinks behind the seniors home. I believe a few power stations still remain.

Mike Myers Drive

Kennedy at Mike Myers 1960

Kennedy Road looking north to Lawrence Avenue, 1960. Source: City of Toronto Archives.

Kennedy Lawrence Hydro Station 1965

Kennedy Lawrence Hydro Station aerial, 1965. Note the spur off the Canadian National Railway. Source: City of Toronto Archives.

The houses on this stretch of Kennedy Road south of Lawrence date from the 1950s.

Kennedy Road

There’s also a curious and neat juxtaposition of buildings: a bingo hall beside a Muslim society. I remember when the bingo hall had a more coloured exterior.

Kennedy Bingo

Al-Huda Muslim Society

Down in the hydro field, there is (or was, rather) some planting a’happenin’. This is Givendale Allotment Garden, and its concept is new to me. My sense is it’s an unknown idea in general – “secret gardens”, as I’ve read. It’s certainly a neat use for a hydro fiend – much more advisable than model airplane or kite-flying.

If my understanding is right, one can apply for a permit to use a garden plot in one of 13 designated allotment gardens  in the city. Applications are accepted the first day of February and permits are issued the first day of May.

Givendale Allotment Gardens

Hydro Field Kennedy
Finally, Jack Goodlad Park is a nicely sized park with basketball courts, a recreation centre, playground, and a couple of baseball fields. Jack Goodlad, its namesake, was a Scarborough alderman.

Jack Goodlad Park

The Pan Am Path also passes through Jack Goodlad Park in its meandering route through Toronto. It’s one of the legacies of the 2015 Pan Am & Parapan Am Games.

Jack Goodlad Park Pan Am Path

Before it was a park and trail though, Jack Goodlad Park was the Scarboro Drive-In. The theatre opened in 1952 and closed around the late 1970s when drive-in movies in Toronto declined in popularity. It’s fascinating to learn about because it tells us a bit about what Toronto suburbia used to look and be like.

Scarborough Council purchased the Scarboro Drive-In property and redeveloped it into a municipal park beginning in 1980. Goodlad himself had a big hand in the end of the movie theatre, objecting to the seedier movies that were playing in the supposedly family-friendly venue.

Scarboro Drive-In 1960

Scarboro Drive-In, 1960. Source: City of Toronto Archives.

Scarboro Drive-In 1965

Scarboro Drive-In aerial, 1965. Source: City of Toronto Archives.

 

Useful Links

600sq feet – How to get an Allotment Garden in Toronto

Cinema Treasures – Scarboro Drive-In

Inside Toronto – Meet Pizza Nova’s Dominic Primucci

Local Film Cultures: Toronto – Laurence Jones – “Bad Food and Passion Pits – The Toronto Drive-In Experience”

Scenes From Kennedy Road

Kennedy Road between Finch and Linwood Avenues is, at first glance, an inconsequential stretch of street. 1km of nothing. A bit of digging, however, and there’s a story. There’s always a story.

Beginning at the top, there’s the Hugh Clark House. A rural leftover nestled in behind a gas station. The Clark family once lined the north side of Finch with their farms. The first of the Clarks to plant his roots was Hugh‘s father, William, who settled two lots over at Birchmount Road in 1838. I wrote a little bit about the elder Clark while exploring his property at today’s L’Amoreaux Park.

Hugh Clark House
Crossing the street, one comes to an innocent looking parkette. Today’s park, however, is yesterday’s street jog. Kennedy at one time jogged left at Finch, forcing a northbound traveler to turn left and then right before continuing north. At some point Kennedy was reconfigured to run seamlessly through the intersection. An orphaned section of the old route remained south of Finch, however. The old Kennedy bus used to turn around at the loop when the bus route terminated at Finch. The triangular jog was eliminated for good in 1979, leaving us Kennedy Road Parkette.

Finch Kennedy Parkette jog
Next, Lynnwood Heights on Southlawn Drive has been around since 1956. The school’s TDSB webpage notes an original population of 400, a staggering far cry from the current enrollment of 160 pupils. The surrounding subdivision also dates from around 1956, making it one of the older post-war developments in northern Scarborough. One can imagine as the area continued to grow, more schools opened to relieve Lynnwood.

Lynnwood Heights Junior Public School
Huntingwood Drive is an east-west alternative to Sheppard and Finch (at least, between Victoria Park and McCowan), but its existence is a relatively recent thing – around 1967, more specifically. It’s odd in the way it snakes close to Sheppard in some parts and close in Finch in others.

Huntingwood Drive

Kennedy Road & Area, 1965

Kennedy Road & Area, 1965. Source: City of Toronto Archives. The future Huntingwood Drive is pencilled in bottom left. Finch jog at top.

Bookending the kilometre stretch is another farmhouse, Elmridge. This was the Pat(t)erson family homestead. Or, at least, one of them. Like the Clarks, the Patersons were a pioneering Scarboro family who toiled the land on the east side of the street between Sheppard and Finch. Robert Bonis writes in A History of Scarborough that a Thomas Paterson arrived here in 1820 from Scotland, clearing the land with his son. His descendants continued his work at Elmridge, eventually making the Paterson name synonymous with Agincourt. This excellently researched WikiTree entry breaks down the life of Thomas Archibald Paterson, the great-grandson of the original Thomas Paterson.

Elmridge House

Scenes From Tam O’Shanter

Consider this a sequel. Or, maybe a prequel. Whatever the case, if Wishing Well Acres is  the Sullivan in Tam O’Shanter-Sullivan, here’s the Tam O’Shanter part.

We begin at Agincourt Mall. The shopping centre dates back to 1966, likely making it the third enclosed mall in Scarborough after 1954’s Eglinton Square and Golden Mile (Cedarbrae Mall predates Agincourt by four years but didn’t get its ceiling until 1972). The mall’s anchors are Wal-Mart and No Frills, but I can recall a time – in 1994, specifically – when they were Woolco and Loblaws, respectively. Walmart bought Woolco that year. No Frills came in the 2000s.

Agincourt Mall outside

As much as malls like Agincourt are seen as shabby and sad (Agincourt Mall as of 2016 has a number of empty tenants), I’ve found that they are still appreciated locales. A lot of nostalgia fills their walls. The comments in this BlogTO article about Agincourt Mall by Robyn Urback  prove that. Everyone has a story, or a store they enjoyed frequently, or an odd memory about something that isn’t there anymore. Mine is the RadioShack that was there in 1990s and 00s, reminding me of lost Canadian retailers. There is a Source in the mall now, but not in the same space as its predecessor.

Agincourt Mall inside

Agincourt Mall was built on the Kennedy farm, with the farmhouse once located just north of the mall and south of the West Highland Creek. A walk down the street named for the family leads to a trail that lines the creek.

West Highland Creek bridge
The path is sandwiched between an apartment and townhouse complex on one side and the creek and Tam O’Shanter Golf Club on the other. A look down at the shallow waterway produces a shiny sheet of ice over the surface and the occasional group of ducks in the non-frozen bits. But there’s also something that doesn’t quite belong.

West Highland Creek
Several pillars jut out on either side of the creek – two on one side and two opposite them. I count three sets of these abutments along the way. Their meaning isn’t hard to figure out: 3 sets of abutments, 3 phantom bridges. There is one question, though: what’s the story?

West Highland Creek bridge abutments

The answer: In the 1930s to the 1970s, this was the site of the Tam O’Shanter Golf and Country Club, the precursor to Tam O’Shanter Golf Course.

In addition to golf, the Tam O’Shanter Country Club complex had swimming, ice hockey, and curling. In 1971, the club erupted in flames, destroying some of the complex. In researching the fire, I’ve read many stories about people seeing the flames from afar. Like Agincourt Mall, the country club meant something to many people.

In 1973, the Province of Ontario, Metro Toronto, and Scarborough jointly acquired Tam O’Shanter and converted it into a municipal golf course. In the coming years, the complex would be gradually demolished and a new clubhouse would be built around 1980. Today, a couple of apartment towers on Bonis Avenue stand in the club’s former location.

West Highland Creek Bend 1967

Tam O’Shanter & West Highland Creek, 1967, Source: City of Toronto Archives.

Back to the abandoned abutments, the creek was located just behind the clubhouse and its bridges led to and from the golf course. Shortly after the course’s acquisition, the bridges were removed, presumably because the course layout would be reorganized.

West Highland Creek ducks

But the creek hasn’t always run the same course.

West Highland Creek Bend 1956

Tam O’Shanter & West Highland Creek, 1956, Source: City of Toronto Archives.

The West Highland at one time swung north up into the golf course before dropping back down and resuming in a northwest direction. Around 1967, the creek was straightened and bridges were installed. The orphan bend remained as a sort of oxbox for some time, but since has been mostly filled in. One can still see the imprint of the bend today, though, notably through the pond and the ‘etched’ curved outline north of it.

West Highland Creek Bend 2015

Tam O’Shanter & West Highland Creek, 2015. Source: Toronto Historic Maps.

Tam Shanter West Highland bend pond

There is one remaining bridge, however – a wider, sturdier construction. There is a gate in the fence on the other side, so one can guess that at least it might have been a vehicular corridor. As of 2015, though, both ends have been barricaded to prevent any sort of use.

West Highland Creek big bridge

As the West Highland continues into the golf course and beyond, the trail comes to Ron Watson Park, renamed from Tam O’Shanter Park in 2005 in recognition of the long-time Scarborough resident, trustee, and councillor. Watson was honoured with a star on Scarborough’s Walk of Fame in 2011. The park forms the field of Tam O’Shanter School, featuring a nice playground…and a stone turret.

Ron Watson Park

This viney tower became an instant curiosity to me. It looked old and misplaced. No doors (although, perhaps a sealed opening), a couple of ‘windows’ near the top. What was/is it?

Ron Watson Park tower

I had to do some digging. Google presented nothing, so I consulted some aerial photos to try and date it. It’s been around since at least 1947, the first year on record for aerials in the Toronto Archives.

Ron Watson Turret 1965

Charles Watson Farm, 1965. Source: City of Toronto Archives.

Ron Watson Turret 2015

Ron Watson Park, 2015. Source: Toronto Historic Maps.

Next, looking at the 1878 Map of Scarboro Township, Ron Watson Park was once part of the Samuel Horsey farm on Concession 3 Lot 30. Whether Horsey built the mystery tower is unknown. His house had a parlour, though!

Posting my findings and curiosities on Twitter, answers came in from the Scarborough Archives.

So, Horsey sold his farm to Watson, who likely built the silo. When Watson’s farm was subdivided, the tower was never torn down with it. My guess is the task proved too difficult. It doesn’t fully answer the ‘when?’ part, but mystery solved!

Ron Watson Park silo

Leaving the park and silo, the two-in-one Stephen Leacock  Collegiate/John Buchan Senior Public School has had a place on Birchmount Road since 1970. It is built in the Brutalist (or, Heroic) style that was indicative of Toronto architecture in the 1950s to 1970s. The schools’ namesakes were a Canadian author and humourist and Scottish author and historian, respectively.

Stephen Leacock School Brutalism

And while I’m profiling, Tam O’Shanter is a Robbie Burns poem. Another Scottish connection. The Anglo-Saxon roots and references of the Tam O’Shanter community is interesting though, considering what it became. Today, it is one of the more diverse areas in the city of Toronto.

Next, a derelict structure stands across the school. I don’t know its full context, but it’s most definitely another rural leftover.

Abandoned building Birchmount Avenue

On Bonis Avenue, there’s Agincourt Library and another great turret. Although the building opened in 1991, the library itself dates back to 1918. Within that time it has moved locales a few times, including a stay in Agincourt Mall. The branh carries three copies of A History of Scaborough. Its editor is a Mr. Robert Bonis, who lends his name to the street.

Agincourt Library

Down at Birchmount and Sheppard, a strip mall has gone through a makeover in the last few years. It’s about to get a new tenant, too: Starbucks. The sight is initial shock for me, if only because it’s strange to see one in this neighbourhood. My mind shoots to the old idea that a Starbucks is tell tale sign of gentrification, but I question whether it applies here. We’ll have to see.

Starbucks Birchmount and Sheppard

Foregoing a stroll down Sheppard,  I backtrack to Bay Mills Boulevard. The curved street offers a sort of ‘backstage’ view of Tam O’Shanter, showing off the apartments, church, school, field, playground that all front Sheppard. The intersection of Bay Mills and Sheppard is the start of the Sheppard Avenue East Avenue Study zone. On one side there’s another strip mall; on the other, a car dealership. They’ll surely be part of the plans.

Bay Mills Boulevard

Warden Avenue is further down the way, but that adventure lies in the mentioned Wish Well exploration. For now, that’s a wrap on this one.

Sheppard and Bay Mills

If you have memories of Agincourt Mall, Tam O’Shanter Country Club, Stephen Leacock School, or Tam-O’Shanter-Sullivan in general, I would like to hear about it. Leave a comment below or tweet me!

Scenes From Brimley Woods Park

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.

Brimley Woods

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.

North Scarborough Green Loop East Highland Creek 1

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.

North Scarborough Green Loop East Highland Creek 2

North Scarborough Green Loop East Highland Creek 3
The bending path continues on towards the Finch Hydro Corridor, but a bridge over the creek leads the way to the woods.

North Scarborough Green Loop East Highland Creek 4

Brimley Woods Park 1
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.

Brimley Woods Park 2

The second thing I encounter: a leftover from Halloween.

Brimley Woods Park 3

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.

Brimley Woods Park 4            Brimley Woods Park 5

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.

Lot 24 (and 23) Concession IV, 1878 Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of York. Forest Home appears in the middle of the lot. Brimley Woods is shown as a wooded area in the southernmost part of the lot.

Lot 24 (and 23) Concession IV, 1878 Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of York. Brimley Woods is shown as a wooded area in the southernmost part of the lot.

In History of Toronto and County of York, OntarioMacklin 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.

BrimleyWoods1965

Brimley Woods aerial, 1965. Forest Home is in the top left corner. Source: City of Toronto Archives.

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?”

Brimley Woods Park 7
When I do exit, it’s at the southeastern corner of the park. I follow the ravine back down to the Finch Avenue, passing some hillside planting.

North Scaborough Green Loop East Highland Creek 5

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.

North Scaborough Green Loop East Highland Creek 6
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.

Macklin Forest Home

Brimley Woods Park 9

Useful Links

C.B. Robinson – History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario: Biographical notices

David Boyle, editor – The Township of Scarboro 1786-1896

Scenes From L’Amoreaux Park

Scenes From L’Amoreaux Park

North Scarborough’s L’Amoreaux Park has everything one would want in a park. It’s big, it has trails, it has sports, it has nature, and it even has a kid’s water park. But what makes it so interesting is its hidden connections to the past.

L'Amoreaux North Park 1

A focal point is naturally L’Amoreaux Pond in the northern edge of the park. Its trail and its waters are often populated by Canada Geese and today is no exception.

L'Amoreaux North Park 2

L'Amoreaux North Park 3

L'Amoreaux North Park Pond 2
The pond makes up the headwaters of the West Highland Creek – or, at least, the Bendale branch of it. But it seems like it wasn’t always here. Like a lot of waterways in Toronto, the creek has been altered, and, in this case, an entire new body of water has been added.

L'Amoreaux Park 2015

L’Amoreaux Park aerial, 2015.

L'Amoreaux 1965

L’Amoreaux Park aerial, 1965. Source: City of Toronto Archives.

Also found on the path around L’Amoreaux Pond: a couple of Heritage Toronto plaques commemorating the Alexandra Site – a 14th-century Huron-Wendat village that was excavated just north of here in 2001.

L'Amoreaux North Park Alexandra Site 1

L'Amoreaux North Park Alexandra Site 2
The evidence of Aboriginal villages within the City of Toronto are few and far between. Many of them are destroyed before we ever learn about them. Thus, to know that there was a village here – and one tells us so much about lifestyle of these people – is very neat.

L'Amoreaux North Park 5

But in addition to the great information the plaques tell us about this Huron-Wendat settlement, it’s remarkable that up until 15 years ago, the Alexandra Site was still a farmer’s field! It speaks to the fact that even though Scarborough has changed a lot since World War II, pockets of its rural beginnings have still endured in recent years. Northeast Scarborough near the Markham line in particular still looks like the country in some parts. (And indeed, it is home to the Reesor farm – the last of its kind in the borough).

L'Amoreaux 1878

Lot 30 Concession IV, 1878 Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of York. L’Amoreaux Park was once owned and farmed by the Clarks. William Clark first settled here in 1838. Clarks Corners, the neighbourhood in the Finch Ave. & Birchmount Ave. area, is named for the family.

Rounding around the pond, one comes to Passmore Forest, a neat woodlot of looping paths and lots of great foliage. The survival of such a wooded area is remarkable if only because the legacy of colonialism is, well, a very destructive and disruptive one. Lands get cleared and farmed, invasive species are introduced, species disappear etc.

L'Amoreaux North Park Passmore Forest 1
But looking at a map of the area even 50 years ago (see above), one can see the forest even existed in 1965.

L'Amoreaux North Park Passmore Forest 2
Its naming is significant to Scarborough’s roots too, because F.F. Passmore surveyed the township in 1882. Passmore Avenue is named for him. Today, it exists as an inconsequential industrial road, but at one time ran the span of northern Scarborough (and was directly north of these woods before being obliterated for development). My theory is that Passmore became expendable as an east-west corridor because it was so close to Steeles Avenue. McNiccol Avenue further south eventually replaced it.

L'Amoreaux North Park Passmore Forest 3
As the Toronto & Region Conservation Authority – the governing agency for the Highland Creek Watershed – tells us, the existence of this woodlot is a mixed thing. On the one hand, Passmore Forest is in good shape and does accommodate some flora and fauna. On the other hand, such isolated pockets of tree cover and the effects of urbanization and human use does not allow for greater species diversity.

Out of the forest and down the other side of the pond, I find myself under McNiccol  with the expectedly shallow West Highland flowing next to me.

L'Amoreaux North Park Pond 2
L'Amoreaux North Park West Highland Creek 1
From there, L’Amoreaux Park opens up and two loafs rise high above the park. I follow the unofficial path up one and survey the scene. There are courts and fields here for tennis, baseball, soccer, cricket, and a dog park too. (Although, I best know the grounds for the Kidstown Water Park, a childhood hangout.)

L'Amoreaux North Park 6
L'Amoreaux North Park 7
From here the tree lined trail meanders around and over the creek, offering looks at the channelized  waterway before concluding at Birchmount and Silver Springs. Throughout the pleasant walk is a mental reminder that it didn’t always look like this.

L'Amoreaux North Park 8           L'Amoreaux North Park West Highland Creek 2

L'Amoreaux North Park 9

Down at Finch and Birchmount, there’s a final hidden reminder of a time long ago. The northeast corner was home to L’Amoreaux Public School (S.S. #1) from 1817-48, possibly rebuilt and replaced in the 20th century. Alexander Muir of Maple Leaf Forever fame taught at the log school. Although his name is perhaps more synonymous with Leslieville, Alexmuir School and Park carry his legacy in Scarborough.

AlexanderMuirSchoolBirchmountFinch1909

L’Amoreaux School circa 1840, 1909. Source: Toronto Public Library.

According to the Scarborough Archives, S.S. #1 was demolished in the 1970s (around 1974, more specifically) as the Birchmount Road was realigned to eliminate the job across Finch Avenue.

Finch & Birchmount, 1973

Finch & Birchmount, 1973. Source: City of Toronto Archives.

Finch & Birchmount, 1975

Finch & Birchmount, 1975. Source: City of Toronto Archives.

L'Amoreaux North Park Pond

Useful Links

Hiking The GTA – Abandoned Passmore Avenue

C.B. Robinson – History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario: Biographical notices – ‘The Township of Scarborough’

Dodgeville – Lost Passmore Avenue

In Search of Your Canadian Past: Canadian County Atlas Digital Project

Jason Ramsay Brown – Toronto’s Ravines and Urban Forests: Their natural heritage and local history – ‘L’Amoreaux North Park and Passmore Forest’

Kevin Plummer – Historicist: Unearthing the Alexandra Site’s Pre-Contact Past

Scenes From Birkdale Ravine

Toronto & Region Conservation Authority – State of the Watershed Report: Highland Creek Watershed, August 1999

Scenes From Birkdale Ravine

Near the heart of Scarborough, in a neighbourhood known as Midland Park, one can find Birkdale Ravine.

Birkdale Ravine 1
Birkdale Ravine 2
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.

Birkdale Ravine 3
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).

Birkdale Ravine 6
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.

2015-10-18 10.42.27
The trail itself is serene and tranquil with the changing colours offering great scenery. It’s also well used as recreational space with a number of power walkers crossing my path.

Birkdale Ravine 5
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.

Birkdale Ravine 7

Birkdale Ravine 8
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.

Birkdale Ravine 9
Birkdale Ravine 10
But with everything gorgeous and amazing, I have to have a little chuckle at the shabby signage by the second bridge of the trail. Replacements, maybe?

Birkdale Ravine 11

Birkdale Ravine 12
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.

Birkdale Ravine 13
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.

Birkdale Ravine 14
Useful Links

Just Inside Scarborough – Hiking in Birkdale Ravine

I Heart Scarborough – Thomson Park & The Birkdale Ravine: A Mini-Essay

Scenes From Warden Woods Park

Warden Woods is undoubtedly a gem. It’s a gem as a piece of natural heritage in Toronto, and it’s a gem along Taylor-Massey Creek. I’m here as a part of a Heritage Toronto tour, led by Andrew McCammon of the Taylor-Massey Project, a volunteer effort dedicated to preserving the Taylor-Massey watershed.

Warden Woods 1

We gather at the corner of the Warden and St. Clair Avenues opposite Warden Subway Station and descend into the park.

A bit of background on the Taylor-Massey: it feeds into the River Don, flowing from the Forks and concluding at Terraview Park near Victoria Park & the 401 in Scarborough. Its real headwaters, though, are actually buried under the highway and just north of it. Also, like its name suggests, it consists of two branches named for prominent Toronto families.

The first thing that strikes me about the creek is how naturalized it looks. There’s actual flow to it! Whereas other creeks in the city (including parts of the Taylor-Massey) have been channelized and filled with concrete beds, there’s nothing of the sort with this ‘reach’ of the ravine.

We get our first look at the creek and see also a far off cliff – a mini-Scarborough Bluff, as I like to think of it. Both are glacial remnants of the last ice age.

Warden Woods 4

As Andrew explains, the TMP is trying to make the watershed into a functioning, vibrant ecosystem. That has meant no washrooms in the park (although I don’t see why any would be needed) and no night lights. Curiously, there’s only one bench in the whole park, too. Warden Woods is home to many bird sanctuaries and serves as a stop over for migratory species.

Warden Woods 2

But it doesn’t mean the creek isn’t without its challenges. That same great view shows that its banks have been fortified with armor-stone bricks to prevent erosion. Other parts lack the armor-stone, though.

Warden Woods 3
The trail itself begins as a gravel path. Unlike other parks of its size and larger, it doesn’t branch off. To the right is the creek, to the left is thick forest. It is a serene stroll – if you don’t mind the rattle of nearby subway cars.

Warden Woods 5
Warden Woods Park also faces issues of storm water and sewage water draining into the creek. Andrew brings us to a bridge over a tiny tributary and has us note the smell. Pungent stuff it is.

Warden Woods 7

The problem with coordinating a plan of ‘attack’ to tackle these issues is that there are a couple of bodies – Toronto Parks, Toronto & Region Conservation Authority, as examples – that have some jurisdiction over Warden Woods and similar areas. Sadly, they don’t talk to each other as much as they should. With the City’s Ravine Strategy,  perhaps a concentrated effort will be in place.

Warden Woods 6

The other issue within Warden Woods – and in most natural settings in Toronto – is invasive species. Particular to both is the prevalence of garlic mustard, which impedes the ability for any other plant to grow in its vicinity.

Warden Woods 8

We come to a large bridge, which Andrew says at one time had a plaque dedicated to the Thompson Brothers. Across it is a path that once led to a mini BMX course and today is a great spot for bird watching. Serendipitously, at that very moment a hawk (red tailed, maybe?) flies high above us.

Warden Woods 9

Further past the bridge, the now paved path curves and meanders at about the spot where the shores of ancient Lake Iroquois once stood.

At the end of the trail, Warden Woods Trail curiously becomes a parking lot, which is unfortunate because if one where passing through on Pharmacy, he/she would have no clue that a great natural escape exists down the way.

Scenes From Birch Cliff and the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant

3. Warden Avenue Birch Cliff

Arriving on 69 bus, I find myself at the intersection of Kingston Road and Warden Avenue in the Birch Cliff neighbourhood of southern Scarborough. As a northern Scarberian, I’ve never been here before, but it’s a place I at least recognize through my fascination of ‘Before and After’ images.

warden-and-kingston-road

Warden Avenue and Kingston Road, 1950s-60s to Today. Note the continuity in the bus and bank in both images. Credit: Scarborough Historical Society

I cross the street and stand in front of Taylor Memorial Library. I’m here to see a talk given by Historian Allan Levine on his new book ‘Toronto: Biography of a City’, which is part the Toronto Public Library’s Eh List. It’s 5:50pm. The talk isn’t for another hour and ten minutes, so I get to explore Birch Cliff – or a tiny bit of it, anyways. The first thing that strikes me is the road construction. Kingston Road is seemingly always under perennial maintenance. Must be a headache for Birchcliffians (?).

1. Taylor Memorial Public Library

2. Kingston Road Construction

Warden Avenue south of Kingston is the only portion of the throughway that isn’t served by public transit. It is narrow, tree lined, and entirely residential. Above all, it’s quiet and quiet nice. There are a number of people outside as I walk, and I wonder how they feel about living here and if there’s some kind of Birch Cliff identity. The houses themselves are a mixture of older one-storey homes, bungalows, and post-modern creations.

4. Post-Modern Birch Cliff

5. Warden Avenue

Eventually, I come to the foot of Warden Avenue. It’s not exactly a landmark, but it’s cool enough to me. Where the street ends, a path begins. As I walk, I hear crunching under my feet. There are fallen nuts or something embedded in the sand. I pick one up as a souvenir and place it in my bag.  At the end of the path is a gate – or, at least, was a gate. Past it is, of course, the Scarborough Bluffs. I can hear the waves from where I am. It looks as though someone might’ve attempted this descent or at least part of it, but it’s not an adventure I’m up for, so I turn back.

6. Foot of Warden Avenue

7. Foot of Warden Avenue

8. Nuts

9. Warden Scarborough Bluffs

10. Warden Scarborough Bluffs

I return to Kingston and start heading west. The street was built as a motel lined highway into Toronto – the Dundas Street of Scarborough, if you will. The strip of shops near Warden features a cafe, an empty store, and a bar with karaoke.

As I keep walking, I’m not awed. It’s a rather sad street, and that goes beyond just the construction. Looking across the way, there’s nothing lively – certainly not like the stretch of Kingston that runs through the Beach.

11. Warden Avenue Helene Cafe           12. Warden Avenue Helene Cafe

13. Warden Avenue Closed Store

14. Faded Mural

15. Kingston Road Birch Cliff

Continuing on, to my left is a long fence with trees rising above it. I have no idea what’s on the other side. When the opportunity is right, I peek my head over. A golf course. Further down, I put it all together. This is the Toronto Hunt Club, which is fed in by a private road. It’s a long established organization, and has been here for at least a hundred years.

16. Toronto Hunt Club Kingston Road

17. Toronto Hunt Club Kingston Road

Toronto Hunt Club Kingston Road, Goads, 1913

Oaklands Avenue was Warden south of Kingston. Credit: Goads Atlas, 1913.

Kingston does a curve and turns residential for a bit. At Blantyre, I have to head south. Before that, I stop in at the Petro Canada. It’s a fortuitous break because with all the walking, I forgot to pack water with me (number one rule for an explorer). I refuel and continue. It’s somewhat fitting considering my destination – a great big water temple.

18. Kingston Road Birch Cliff

But first, Blantyre reminds me a bit of Warden Avenue in its array of homes, but it’s clear that it’s a bit more upscale (understandable as I’m closer to the Beach). At Queen Street, for example, are houses that require a stairs to get to.

19. Post-Modern Home

20. Blantyre Avenue

21. Blantyre Avenue

At just after 6:30pm, I cross Queen Street and find myself before the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, a long yellow building with a massive lawn. I get in close to inspect it while a couple dogs (with their owners nearby) come in to inspect me. I amicably oblige them for a bit, but know I don’t have too much time. What I see is impressive, but I know the other side is where the real marvel lies.

22. R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant Back

23. R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant Back
35. R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant dogs

Immortalized in Ondaatje’s In the Skin of a Lion, rhe R.C. Harris Plant, named for Roland Caldwell, the city’s Public Works Commissioner at the time of its construction, is one of the most photographed landmarks in the city. I have to join the masses in capturing its grandeur. It is built in the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 30s, the same as Commerce Court North – although it is nothing like that tower. This is industrial architecture at its finest and because of it, I’m pretty giddy.

24. R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant

26. R.C. Harris Water Treatment  Front

27. R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant Front

The facility is located at the foot of Victoria Park Avenue, which is  named for the amusement park and forestland that the treatment plant now occupies. As I meander around and note individuals with their animals and/or human companions, it’s funny how it’s still a gathering place – an odd one if one thinks about it. “Let’s take the dog out for walk to the water treatment plant and we’ll talk as well.”

Victoria Park RC Harris Plant, Goads 1913

Credit: Goads Atlas, 1913

Victoria Park RC Harris Water Plant

Victoria Park Amusement Park, Year Unknown. Credit: Scarborough Historical Society

28. R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant

29. R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant

I head down to the water and capture it from below. It’s a moody day, and part of me was hoping for an animated sunset, but there’s still something appealing with the dreariness and fog. There’s no rain, though – that’s a plus.

30. R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant

31. R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant shore

32. R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant shore

33. R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant

34. R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant plaque

My phone indicates it’s 6:50pm, so I regrettable decide to leave Mr. Harris’ great achievement. I know have to get a move on in order to make Mr. Levine’s talk without being too late. I’m not helped by the fact that it’s almost entirely uphill to Kingston road – from the shore, up to the plant, to Queen Street, and up Courcelette Road. I’d take my time to admire the street, but I’m too winded to give it thought. I haven’t been through such strenuous exercise in a while. When I consider it, I’ve missed it and make a note to put myself through that – under less stressful circumstances. By the time I reach the main road, it’s dark. The fog reflects beautiful on the street lights and I can’t resist one last picture.

36. Kingston Road Birch Cliff

I reach Taylor Memorial Library at 7:10pm. Not bad, although I’m still very gassed. It’s a really cozy branch.

I’m directed to the back meeting room where Mr. Levine has already begun lecturing on his book. It’s a great presentation on the ‘life’ of Toronto – Muddy York, The Toronto Maple Leafs, The Ward, The Orange Order, former mayor Nathan Phillips – a lot of which I know about, but still some that garner notes in my Moleskine.

The audience discussion that follows it is most interesting. There were comments about the inadequacy of Toronto’s infrastructure (the TTC at the centre, naturally), how Torontonians are whiners, and, most notably, how the city is soulless. Thinking of my day today, I argue that city does have a character and soul. The examples of soulful cities given include Montreal, Quebec City, and European metropolises. I suppose their souls are wrapped in long, documented histories. Toronto’s is perhaps less obvious, but I say it’s character lies in its neighbourhoods – like Birch Cliff – and the landmarks within them – like the R.C. Harris Treatment Plant. I think it’s a fair point and very fitting given the evening I’ve had.

It’s worth noting that what I saw today is only a small portion of Birch Cliff. The Quarry Lands at Victoria Park and Gerrard, for example, were a big part of the area once upon a time and now await aan uncertain future. Their exploration also await me.

Scenes From Scarborough Civic Centre

The Scarborough Town Centre and Scarborough Civic Centre are located in the geographic heart of Scarborough. The former also makes up the main commercial and transportation heart, and, the latter and its adjoined public square hold the administrative, political and cultural heart of the borough.

Scarborough Civic Centre North Side

I exit the Scarborough RT and descend first upon Albert Campbell Square. The area is akin to the space in front of Toronto City Hall. Like its downtown counterpart, the forum fronts a modernist (former) city hall with an open space and stage. It is also named after a famous mayor, who, in fact, was Scarborough’s first in 1967. The square hosts and has hosted many activities such as a farmers’ market, cultural celebrations, and, in my own history, elementary school folk dancing.

Albert Campbell Square

The 1973 Civic Centre itself – one of a number of Raymond Moriyama creations in Toronto – is the political nexus for Scarborough. Of course, when I call it that, I note that this was more the case during pre-amalgamation Scarborough. But the Civic Centre continues as an administration centre for many city departments.

Scarborough Civic Centre Inside (4)         Scarborough Civic Centre Inside (3)

Scarborough Civic Centre Inside (1)

As with other Moriyama designs (North York Central Library, Toronto Reference Library), there are layers of floors.

Scarborough Civic Centre Inside (6)

After walking through the Civic Centre, I exit the other side. Crossing the street, I come to a field and an interesting piece of public art. The Hand of God is a hand perched atop a talk pole, propping up a man. Completed in 1973 by Carl Milles, it is symbolic of Mr. Campbell’s worldview (as expressed in the accompanying plaque).

Scarborough Civic Centre South Side (1)

The Hand of God (1)

The Hand of God (4)

The Hand of God (5)

There is construction around the south side of the Civic Centre, presumably for new condominiums. This is perhaps the latest identifying caveat – as demonstrated by the towers around Albert Campbell Square – it might also be a residential heart in Scarborough.

Albert Campbell Square Condos (2)

Update 02/07/2015:

That construction was not a condo, but the Toronto Public Library’s newly opened 100th branch, the Scarborough Civic Centre Library!

Scarborough Civic Centre Library Exterior (1)

Scarborough Civic Centre Library Exterior (2)

Scarborough Civic Centre Library Exterior (3)

Scarborough Civic Centre Library Exterior (4)

Walking inside, a new library smell greets me. I’m immediately struck by the abundance of light, wooden beams, and high ceilings. It’s actually a smaller space than I anticipated, but an amazing one nonetheless. As many have said, it’s a great addition to Scarborough and the Toronto Public Library system.

Scarborough Civic Centre Library Interior (1)

Scarborough Civic Centre Library Interior (2)

I sit down at one of the long communal tables to do some work, smiling as I periodically hear a parent ‘shhh’ing her children who are having an enthusiastic time at the KidsStop Centre. Library sounds.

Scarborough Civic Centre Library Interior (3)    Scarborough Civic Centre Library Interior (4)

When I make my exit, I ponder the fenced off construction zone adjacent to the library. Curious about it, I circle back into the library and inquire about it with a staff member at the circulation desk. She graciously tells me there’s some landscaping happening and hopefully there’ll be a parkette-type thing by the end of the summer. That’s reason enough to return!

Scarborough Civic Centre Library Exterior (6)

Rounding the library, I find myself back at the civic square where an information map stump thing catches my eye. I can’t help but think that it’s in an odd location. One has to stand in dirt to read it.

Albert Campbell Square (2)

Albert Campbell Square Map (5)
Albert Campbell Square Map (2)
I admittedly study it more than one should. It’s clearly an outdated thing because Simpson’s, Eaton’s, and The Bay (in its original 1979 spot which Walmart now occupies) are still on the map!

Albert Campbell Square Map (1)

The old Scott Farm House – Baton Rouge, as it’s now known – is looking pretty lonely in its spot north of the mall.

Albert Campbell Square Map (4)

I’m taking a stab that this thing dates from the mid- to late-1980s. Reasons? The Scarborough RT opens in 1985 and Simpson’s ceases to exist in 1991 when The Bay bought it out. Incidentally, this precipitated a game of retail musical chairs where The Bay moved into Simpson’s, Sears moved into The Bay, Sears moved into Eaton’s when Sears bought it out, and finally, Walmart moved into Sears.  (Of course, now Sears is in trouble.)

I’m also going to guess that the wayfinding relic stump was moved here because the ‘You Are Here’ dot is not where I actually am.

Albert Campbell Square Map (3)
For a look at the Scarborough Civic Centre and Scarborough Town Centre dated some time between 1973 and 1979, here’s a vintage image (original source unknown, although credit to HiMY SyED’s Flickr for the amazing find):

Scarborough Town Centre 1970s
There is also a great blown up aerial shot of the area in the 1960s near the lower level food court in the hallway leading to the restrooms.

Related Links

Globe & Mail – Honouring a revered Canadian architect

Now Magazine – Scarborough City Centre and Square: A Space Oddity