Torottawalk: Riverdale Farm (Today at 1:00)

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More a wander than a walk, we'll have a start point and explore.

More a wander than a walk, we’ll have a start point and explore.

Riverdale Farm (earlier named Riverdale Zoo) was established in 1856 when the City of Toronto bought 119 acres from the Scadding estate. On August 11, 1880, Riverdale Park was officially opened. After donations of animals, Riverdale Farm became Toronto’s First Zoo.

The list of initial animals reads like a Christmas carol. By 1902, the zoo had sixteen pheasants, two ocelots, a male camel, an elephant, a buffalo bull, six pens of monkeys, a Siberian bear, a young female crane, some lions, and a hippopotamus. That year, due to its proximity to  the old railway line, it was easy for the  Toronto Railway Company to carry 20,000 people to the zoo. After we bought a zoo in Scarborough in 1974 the animals were shipped to the new zoo and the Riverdale Zoo closed its gates for the last time. Over the next four years, many of the Riverdale Zoo buildings were torn down – all but The Residence, the Donnybrook, and the Island House buildings were demolished.

Today, we’re visiting the property, as well as the urban farm called Riverdale Farm. The Farm opened in 1978 and holds horses, cows, pigs, chickens and other animals in an late-19th-century-style farm. You may remember that Riverdale Farm narrowly escaped the chopping block last year after the infamous 2011 KPMG report identified it as a possible cost-cutting measure for the city.

You may also remember that just this year a $25,000 donation from the W. Garfield Weston Foundation (and a matching promise from Toronto’s councilors), brought new hope to the Farm – which is free to visit (but please donate).

For more information visit: the Parks and Forestry Page

Torottawalk: West Toronto Rail Path (1:00 Today)

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walking the West Toronto Rail Path

walking the West Toronto Rail Path

I’ve biked the West Toronto Railpath – or the WTR – a bunch of times. Discovering it on the way home from my volunteer bonanza over Christmas, it was like a dream. Above the traffic, away from lights, away from aggressive drivers, here was this linear park that pooped me out at little stops along the way.

Why can’t we have this everywhere, I thought.

I even tweeted about the concept:

Turns out, Friends of the West Toronto Railpath is a community-based working group with the goal of assisting the City of Toronto design, finance and build a 6.5 kilometre linear park from Toronto’s Junction Neighbourhood into the heart of the city. They’re currently lobbying to extend the Railpath south into the core, just by following along the rail lines.

West Toronto Rail Path

The first section of the Railpath took ten years of planning, lobbying, and prodding; Construction of Phase 1 of the path, running from Cariboo Avenue to Dundas Street West and Sterling Road, began in 2008 and was completed in 2009.[1]   Support for this project seems to have come from all sides – the City of Toronto Economic Development and Parks Committees, grassroots community support, the Evergreen Foundation and, Toronto’s Community Bicycle Network; however, the project necessitated the purchase of land and negotiations with rail operators and other stakeholders.

With plans for the bike path to head all the way to union station, and other rail trail paths in existence ( like the Toronto BeltlineLeaside Rail Trail, and the massive multi-use trail network ; hopefully I can look forward to a day where I’m riding the rails around this city.


Torottawalk: Laneways and Alleyways

stealing @spacing's laneway's route (

stealing @spacing’s laneway’s route (

Alleyways in Toronto are a favourite stroll point and with Jordyn Marcellus in tow, we’ve crafted this route to explore the phenomenon of laneways and alleyways in Toronto. The spaces in between main streets are filled with the garage art, types of graffiti – from “tags” to “throw-ups” to “pieces”, and converted coach houses.

After a year of change, we’re tracking down the same route – picking up Mr. Marcellus on Bloor and Christie – and trekking to explore the hidden spaces along the way.

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Supplemental Reading:

On Graffiti Alley:

On Development in Laneways:


Torottawalk (4:00 Dundas Street)

Along Dundas Street, stopping along for some drinks as we go!

Along Dundas Street, stopping along for some drinks as we go!

Come join us or follow along on @torottawalk or on Torottawalk’s instagram

Ah, St Patrick’s day.  For those of you with nothing left to prove in the realm of green beer and public shame, I’m sure the plan is to bolt the doors and nurse an imperial stout all day. Well, not for me! Today. in our Sunday best: Torottawalk takes Dundas.

For some great information about Dundas Street and why it’s a historical gold mine: check out this article in BlogTO. Today, we’re chugging along the old Highway 5,  the TTC’s 505 Dundas streetcar route, and exploring the space between Riverdale and the Junction.

Built as a military road, Torottawalk will take military precision in our Dundas Street exploration, keeping a fair distance from both the lake (and the ancient threat of war) and the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. In working through this one street (once more than fifteen separate streets) We’ll also be working through some of the local pubs and bars.

Possible stops Include:

So come along, wear your walkin’ shoes and take some pictures with us!