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.

follow along on @torottawalk

Supplemental Reading:

On Graffiti Alley:

On Development in Laneways:


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!

Torottawalk: Trinity Bellwoods Park & Area ( Sunday @ 1:00)

New Trin instead of Old Trin

New Trin instead of Old Trin

This week, we head to Trinity Bellwoods, one of my favourite parks in the city. Named for Trinity College, one of the colleges that now make up the University of Toronto, the college which was built in 1852 and stood at the centre of the park and remained there for just over 100 years. Today the only remaining artifacts of the school are its restored gates at the south end of the park. The area has gone through so many historical changes – from WASP holy land, to new immigrant settling point, from creek to toboggan-site – and I’m excited to visit a place I’ve been to so many times with the view to just: look at it.

I’m not sure the route we’re taking today, but I know we’ll be walking over Garrison Creek and the former Crawford Street Bridge, which once ran over it – because we have to walk by the “dog bowl”. I know we’ll be on the spot where Shaw defended Toronto during the War of 1812 – because we’ll be near Queen, and I’m sure we’ll track down the 200 year old Bitternut Hickory tree, one of the oldest trees in Toronto. For more research read this Jane’s Walk and the Friends of Trinity Bellwood’s page.

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.