Thursday, February 26, 2009

Historic Ice Jam Pictures

Taking care of ice on the tracks just north of the Queen Street bridge, c1910. Courtesy, Toronto Archives

The Drop Machine forum is used by the cycling community to exchange information about, well, cycling stuff. Anything under the sun about cycling. There is even a forum dedicated to the Don since this is a favourite place for them to do all sorts of cycling. Most of the posts are related to organizing rides or other events but there are occasional posts about other things.

One of them has recently delved into the Toronto Archives and dug out some historic photos of the Don River, circa 1907-10. These illustrate that in those days, the Don used to ice over. The resulting ice flows also created problems for the adjacent railway. Those days are long past as I discussed in my own recent post about the Don in winter. Nonetheless, the pictures are interesting to look at.

The picture displayed above is looking south toward the Queen St. East bridge. If you look carefully, you can see a portion of the turret of the Don Station just underneath the bridge in the left background.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Public Meeting to Discuss Sewers

I just love bureaucracies. They create such wonderfully explanatory but impractical titles for projects. Take this one for example: "Don and Waterfront Trunk Sewers and Combined Sewer Overflow Control Strategy". What a mouthful. The gist of this project is to capture all stormwater running into the the Don River by building a huge cistern underneath the DVP and then connect it to the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant. If that weren't enough the project is also looking at upgrading the main sewer pipe running underneath Coxwell Avenue that services nearly a million Torontonians. The project started last summer and the city has been doing some investigation as part of the first stage of the project.

Then about a month ago, an investigation of the existing sewer pipe revealed cracks in the inner lining. Although the extent of the cracks can't be determined a worst case scenario would be for the pipe to fail and all that sewage flowing through it (millions of litres) would start flowing into the Don River and then into the Toronto Harbour. This doomsday scenario has caused much panic and tearing out of hair amongst municipal politicians.

Now that the shit has hit the fan, so to speak, and this project has a much higher profile, the first action was to sic the wordsmithers on to this project. Now it has a new title "Cleaning up our Waterways: The Don River and Central Waterfront Project". Much nicer, but says less about the project than the original.

So the project is still going ahead but with a much higher profile. If you are interested in participating, you can see for yourself next Monday, February 23. The next session will be held at the Hotel Novotel Toronto Centre, 45 The Esplanade, from 6:00pm - 9:00pm. Details of this meeting should have been posted on the project website but there is no update there yet. So take it from me, there is a meeting on Monday. Here is the agenda for the meeting:

6:30 p.m. Open House
7:00 p.m. Video Screening
7:15 p.m. Presentation and Dialogue
9:00 p.m. Wrap-Up

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Historical Map of Crothers' Woods

Crothers' Woods area in 1880 (contemporary place names in red)

Historical maps are a fascinating subject. They reveal interesting facts about past land use and can show trends in development over the years. The map shown above is a fragment taken from a larger map of York Township in 1880 (warning: the full map is over 6Mb in size).

I cut out this fragment to show the Crothers' Woods area. I superimposed some of the contemporary uses and place names to give you an idea as to where it is. Apparently the Taylor brothers (who created the Don Valley Brick Works) were big landowners in this area. Maybe they should have named it Taylor's Woods.

If you're interested in maps of Toronto, a great new book has just been published called the Historical Atlas of Toronto. It is chock full of maps from several eras of Toronto. Well worth a look even for those with only a passing interest in history.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Sewer Project Gets Underway

December, 2008

February, 2009

If you've been in Crothers' Woods recently you may have noticed some construction activity that has recently started up. This project has the wordy name Rosemount Heights Combined Sewer and Siphon Replacement. This project has been on the city's planning roster for several years. Its basic goals are to replace a deteriorating pipe that currently goes underneath the Don River and to provide increased capacity for the new development in the Governor's Road neighbourhood. The new sewer will be about 1m in diameter and will be connected to the North Toronto Sewage Treatment Plant.

Planned Route of Sewer. Blue=tunnel, red=cut and cover

The plan is to tunnel underneath Bayview Avenue. Then there will be a 'cut and cover' section that circles the old Sun Valley landfill. This continues to the Hydro Corridor where it will go into a second tunnel section and then link up with the treatment plant.

The project is slated to last several months and will probably wrap up sometime late summer 2009.

The Task Force to Bring Back the Don has paid close attention to this project. While we are concerned for the well being of the valley, we also realize that this is the best of some less savoury alternatives. Replacing the pipe underneath the Don River would have been more costly and would have resulted in even more disruption to the natural environment. We did have some positive impact on the project. The original plan was to go straight through the old landfill which would have disrupted our longterm goal of reforesting this area. We proposed a revised route that follows the path of an old service road that goeas around the old landfill. This was accepted and is what you now see.

Construction projects look messy but they need are certain amount of space for their work. Once it is complete, the route will be restored with native trees and shrubs. In a few years it will hardly be noticeable.

One issue I noticed with the construction site is that the access road cuts across several trails in the area. Hopefully the city can accommodate access for these trails which is well used by bikers and walkers.

I will be keeping an eye on this project and hope to provide updates as it progresses.

Another view of the construction corridor

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Stewardship Forum 2009

Poster for the forum

Details have been published for this year's stewardship forum. It is on Saturday, February 28th, 2009, 9 am to 3 pm at Black Creek Pioneer Village.

Hosted jointly by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, this conference allows people and groups involved in restoration and stewardship projects to network and learn about new techniques. Proposed workshops include:
  • Lead an interpretive hike
  • Create habitat for native reptiles
  • Monitor pollinating insects
  • Engage others in stewardship, including youth, faith and ethno-racial groups
A shuttle bus will run to and from Downsview subway station. To register call 416-392-5323 or email You need to give your name, telephone number, email address and if you will be taking the shuttle bus.

Monday, February 02, 2009

On the Don, Winter 2009 Newsletter

The Winter 2009 edition of On the Don is now available on the TRCA's website. Highlights in the four page newsletter include:
  • signs to appear on bridges crossing the Don River and major tributaries letting passers by know what watercourse they are travelling over
  • finishing touches on river reroute in E.T. Seton Park
  • East Don Parkland wetland restoration
  • Brick Works ground-breaking ceremony