Torottawalk: (Pape to Parliament On Queen @ 1:00)

Supposedly walking down Queen - or taking the Queen Car is a Metro-morning style thing to do in Toronto. We're going to do it.

Supposedly walking down Queen – or taking the Queen Car is a Metro-morning style thing to do in Toronto. We’re going to do it.

We’re headed out to Queen and Pape and set to wander back west today, past through the heart of the beach, Degrassi and over the Don and into city centre.

Queen Street in the East End is as old as Toronto, with suburbs established in 1834 around the Don – initially called Liberties the expansion began and continued to grow. Around 1908 to 1910, the city expanded right to Victoria Park my old hood, though we’ll only be headed to Pape today.

With the changing face of Queen Street, and the diverse history of the area, I expect our chats along the way to be illuminating.

Come along or follow @torottawalk on twitter or Torottawalk on instagram to follow along digitally.

Ottawa should also be joining us today!

Discovery Walks vs Torottawalk

Discovery Walk

Discovery Walk (Photo credit:

I’ve been walking around Toronto officially with Torottawalk for a fall and winter, learning how to be more mindful and attentive about my city, learning to be inquisitive and appreciative, and learning to take really great photos with a cellphone camera. What I’ve found amazing: how ancient some places around my home are, how connected I can be to nature in the middle of a whirling dirvish of a city, and the absolute dearth or resources to guide me on walking.

I’m looking at you, Discovery Walks.

Discovery Walks is a program of self-guided walks that links City ravines, parks, gardens, beaches and neighbourhoods. Other Discovery Walks include: Central Ravines, Belt Line and Gardens; Don Valley Hills and Dales; Western Ravines and Beaches; Northern Ravines and Gardens; Eastern Ravine & Beaches; Garrison Creek; Humber River, Old Mill & Marshes; and Uptown Toronto.

What discovery walks doesn’t include: history. education. Along the walk you’ll notice signage is sun bleached and graffiti ridden; directions haven’t been updated, and – most frustrating – it could be so much better.

Encouraging pedestrian-ism, walk-ability and livability in this city is of utmost importance: start with taking Discovery Walks and using the existing infrastructure to support more. Mashing up the Discovery walks with a smartphone application like the Local History App “It Happened Here“, integrating Stroll, Jane’s walk, or Toronto City Library Genealogy & Local History tools into an application – or more cheaply: stick a QR code onto any discovery walk sign and link it to a map with local history.

which is why I started Torottawalk. in part to connect with far away friends and in part to connect with the cities I love.

Torottawalk: David Balfour Park Trail (Sunday at 12:30)

To explore with us, follow @torottawalk and use the hashtag #torottawalk. If you don’t like the destination, follow the route where ever you are and explore your surroundings!

The paths at David A. Balfour are part of the Toronto Discovery Walks

The paths at David A. Balfour are part of the Toronto Discovery Walks

Building off of last week’s walk , this time we’re exploring the David A Balfour Trail, a ~3km trail running south from Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Apparently this 30 minute walk gives us a choice of three pathways — one on the east side and two on the west. We’re starting closer to St. Clair Station, plopping down right where the cemetery stops.

Depending on the weather and the path we’ll select the route:

  1. The upper trail on the west side: is usually well maintained and offers handrails and concrete curbs in the steeper sections for the safety of users.
  2. The lower dirt path on the west side: offers a mild challenge as it’s lined with fallen trees. 
  3. The East side trail: the path on the east side is mostly flat and maybe an alternate choice if the upper trail isn’t optimal. 

This hike follows a 1890s vintage abandoned steam rail line and winds through the Don River ravines. Evidence of the industrial heritage of the area dates back from 1873.

Historical Insights:

The bulk of our trip will be on David A Balfour Trail, name for this guy. Anti-communist, pro-catholic civic leader in Toronto from 1939 until 1955.

We’ll follow the path through Park Drive Reservation Ravine (sometimes know as the North or Second Rosedale Ravine). The path derives its name from the closed road called Park Drive Reservation which used to access the network of roads in the Don valley prior to construction of the Don Valley Parkway and the extension to Bayview Ave.

We’ll be revisiting Milkmen’s Road, which acquired its name because employees of a dairy on the east side of the Don Valley used it to make deliveries to customers in Rosedale and the Village of Yorkville.

We’ll end off our walk in Cragleigh Gardens, which was donated to the people of Toronto by Sir Edmond Osler, a financier who had his home, Cragleigh, on this property.