The Toronto Zoo

Peacock checking out the menu!
Cutie Polar Bears!
We can't complain here in Ontario about the weather.  In fact it's been pretty pleasant give or take a few days.  This is the good side of global warming I suppose, and most of us know the bad side.  The poor Polar Bears are feeling the brunt of it, in fact are in the danger zone of becoming extinct forever while the polar ice caps are melting down.  I mean there is only so much we can do to help transport them to colder climates. It was this frame of mind that brought me to the zoo to visit the Polar Bears.  Why not?  There are still a lot of animals at the zoo at this time of year to view and the price is far more reasonable in the cooler months than in the heat of summer, which is their peak season.  From September 3rd to May 18th every year, you can see Polar Bears, Elephants, White rhinos, Grizzly Bears, Cheetahs, Lions, Tigers, Hippos and even Giraffes!   
The North American Grizzly

Sorry didn't catch their names!

The exhibits 'Around the World, Grizzly Bear trail, Camel Trail and Savanna Trail take about 3 to 4 hours to cover on the outside.  There are also many pavilions that are able to stay open all year round because they are indoors and kept at very warm and humid temperatures to ensure the survival of the species.  That's where I was able to visit the Gorillas and Orangutans, Komodo dragons and several fish (including the Lake Malawi Aquarium), birds, bats and snake species, among others.
Moose/Spotted Hyenna
Honestly, not only is it great exercise to walk through the park (especially coming out of the Grizzly Bear trail!) which is all uphill but since the animals are there anyways, it doesn't matter if you believe that they should be kept in captivity or not (which I don't personally), but you might as well enjoy them.  Enjoy seeing and being a part of their surroundings (even if its mock) because most of us will never get to experience the Savannahs in Africa, Eurasia or Australia.  But for a few hours you can still get as close as possible in a safe environment to explore the wonderful world of wild animals.  

Click here for a short video of the GORILLAS! :)


Warden Woods Trail

Spring, Summer or Fall, Warden woods is a beautiful trail located in the east end of Toronto.  I'd say it's not big, not small, just big enough to feel like you've escaped the rush of a city into the balance of nature for a while.

Warden Woods Trail is a heavily forested trail covering a land space of 56 hectares.  From the corner of St. Clair and Warden to Pharmacy Avenue, it follows the Massey Creek which flows into the Don River.  I've been here before (see Warden Subway Station on this blog) but didn't walk through the entire trail because at the time most of the paths were muddy and sloppy.  It's now late autumn and a lot of vibrant fall colours are disappearing into browns, tans and greys.  The reminder of course that winter is not far long, but this trail will still be utilized in the winter for snowshoeing and hiking.  
If you keeping on the asphalt pathway, there are many examples of beautiful scenery to take pictures of, worthy of framing!  The valley was formed by erosion caused by Massey creek through glacial deposits and the path can be winding and hilly at times.  You'll see some heavily forested areas which I suspect are much lovelier in the late spring/summer months when the green foliage is out. 

The Taylor Massey creek is protected and preserved by volunteers of the 'Taylor Massey Project'.  For those interested in learning about how to get involved yourself or just finding out more about project goals and objectives Click Here


Even though it is virtually impossible to get lost in Warden Woods because you are always just minutes from civilization, while in it, it really does feel like a different place in time.

Happy Trails!

Fir Valley Woods Trail

 Chances are if you're doing a search on Fir Valley Woods Trail you won't find much; that's probably because if you blink you'll miss it. 

Fir Valley Woods Trail is a small spot of forest off Warden Avenue between St. Clair and Danforth avenues.  There are no bike paths, or concrete foot paths anywhere, but that isn't to say that Fir Valley isn't without its unique charms. 

There is a broken bridge that overpasses the Taylor (or Massey) creek and I suspect that this trail is pretty much left unattended by the City of Toronto, unless there is some unforeseen danger or emergency which takes place here. 

The Fir Valley Woods trail covers a land space of approximately 1.5 hectares.  It contains a watershed tunnel, a steep hill, a small cluster of fir trees (of course) and an exit adjacent the Warden subway station. 

If you follow out towards St. Clair Avenue you will get to the entrance of a much larger trail called Warden Woods.

Fall Colours at Taylor Creek

 The Taylor Creek Park trail (also known as the Massey Creek trail) were named from two well known families that had historical ties to the area in the early 1800's.  The Trail follows a major stream that forks and flows to form the Lower Don River (the East Don, and this tributary).  
It is such a peaceful and beautiful area with entrances that are so secluded from the Cities core, it just feels like your own private forest.  By travelling southwest on the trail you will end up at Lower Don Trail which will take you parallel to the Don Valley parkway and downtown Toronto. 

Taylor Creek Park and trail is 16 kilometers long and runs from the Sheppard and Victoria Park and flows diagonally under Hwy 401 at Pharmacy.  It continues with on and off watershed and diverted interruptions until it spills out into the Don River.  

Since 1993 with the help of citizens and other environmental groups called, "Friends of the Don East (FODE), there has been much pressure put on the City to reduce the storm water flow into the Taylor Massey Creek much.  In 2003, the City implemented the Wet Weather Flow Management Master Plan which will do just that and improve the habitat in the creek for fish and other water organisms living there.

Halloween Screeemmers

 It's that time of year again at the Toronto Exhibition Place, where "Canada's Ultimate Haunted Houses' are showcased in SCREEMERS!' THE SCARE IS EVERYWHERE! 

Thats me in the back, lookin at my camera!! My pretty niece in the front!
Your first scare may happen when you see the prices at the ticket booth! Luckily I met up with family and my sis in law had coupons which are available, so check in advance to see where you can pick some up.  Once inside, you'll find the Queen Elizabeth building is pretty spacious for the event.  Ghouls, Slashers, Ghosts and Mad-men wandering around aimlessly.  Mock cemeteries and fortune tellers.   There are 6 Haunted Houses to go through and we were only really able to get to 3 of them - !  The Asylum, DARKNESS (my fave) and The Slasher Wax Museum.  What was really enough to make you SCREEEEM were the long lineups getting into these houses! 
Long line ups : (  for each haunted House!

The Free Rides!!
Okay for the good news...Yes!! I SCREEEMED - many times actually much to my surprise, and yes, the 'actors' who make this event really fun did a great job! There was a lot of attention to detail as well.  As well there are free rides that are available to everyone, once you are inside and you can go on the 'ScRaMBleR' or the Ferris Wheel, or the "Freak Out" (yes that freaked me out)!! I found this on YouTube that someone else had recorded of the same exact ride The Freak Out Ride 

My brother lookin a HIS camera (hey it runs in the family :)
Just your average ghoul

My Black Widow Costume
We all had a great time and I really don't think you can be too young or old to enjoy HALLOWEEN!! What isn't there to like? All the candy you can eat and dressing up to be anything you want to be! This year I am "the Black Widow"


Fall Colours on the Don Trail

Autumn really is the prettiest time of the year.  Leaves change color and even the smell of wood burning at dusk in the neighbourhood is nicer in the Autumn than in winter.  Ever wonder why that is?  

I rode my bike through the Don River trail and Tommy Thompson Park stopping every once in awhile to take some pictures to share of some autumn colors of the Lower Don River Path and trail.  

I rode all the way south on the trail to the Tommy Thompson Park and was amazed to see how much weed had grown in just 4 weeks from when I was last there.  You can see from the before and after shots on what the difference is. 

Niagara Falls - Canada/US

View from the American Side
 On a recent trip to Niagara Falls, I was able to get some fairly decent shots of the 3 falls, which are the American, the Bridal Veil and the Canadian Falls.  The Canadian falls is the largest of the 3. Niagara Falls is the second largest falls in the World, after the Victoria Falls in Africa reaching a height of 54 metres.  

View of both Falls while crossing the border

600 billions litres of water flows through the falls from the Great Lakes every hour!  If you've ever been to Niagara, I don't have to tell you that it is by far one of the most spectacular sights and sounds you will ever see in your lifetime.  In fact it is listed as one the the 7 wonders of the world.  The actual change in appearance of location of the Falls was created during the last ice which occurred about 10,000 years ago.    

the Grand Rapids!
Look out below!
While looking out on the Canadian side, you must have noticed that boat that sits right on the brink of the Falls.  I always wondered about why it was there.  Apparently it's been there since 1918!  It's called the old scow (barge). At that time, there were two men on board who frantically moved 50 tons of rock by hand to avoid their fate! 

The men were finally rescued by "Red" Hill who was a Niagara daredevil.  To this day the barge is still secured on a rock while water rushes past it!  There are tons of sites on the Falls (Cataracts) out there that will give you more details.  

Here are the some pictures of the Rapids flowing from the Niagara River!

Albion Falls (Autumn)- Hamilton

1906 Postcard of the Old Mill
Courtesy of Joseph Hollick

The breathtaking beauty of a 19 metre drop of complex cascading water of 'Albion Falls".   Located on top of the Red Hill Valley in Stoney Creek, you'll find this treasure.  One of many located in Hamilton, known as "the city of Waterfalls".  It is especially beautiful in the Autumn when the local trees of beech, elm, maple, ash and walnut surround the falls with a myriad of colors of orange, yellows and red.  You'll love the hiking trails and the scenery of King's forest. If you're not a local like me, you can find places to park in 3 different lots on the escarpment.  On Mud St. (w. of Mt. Albion Road), at the Junction of Mud St. and Mt. Brow Blvd or Mt. Brow Blvd (just west of Mud St). The Shorebirds, warblers and sparrows are heard and perhaps seen in the cooler months of autumn. Parts of the terrain on the trail can be pretty rocky and wet, but it's all worth it for a view of the falls.

As a constant supply of water, it is no surprise that almost 100 years ago it was used to supply water to the "Old Mill"  located at "Mount Albion"  Today, the Mill is gone, but the creek known as 'the Red Hill creek' is a constant flow of water into what is known as "Albion Falls" 

Today hundreds of visitors can be found on weekends exploring this splendid waterfall in Hamilton's east mountain. 

Don River Ravine in the Autumn!

Lower Don River
Off path of lower don trail
There are so many Discovery Walks in Toronto.  In a real sense the walks link people with nature in all corners of the city.  The amalgamation of the boroughs of Toronto in 2000 brought about some change in preserving our natural heritage.  The City and the Conversation Authority have worked to improve several features which included vegitation communities as well as the city's watersheds.  The pictures of the Don River you see today, look much different than that of even 10 years ago.  Believe it or not, there was a time, when the storm water and sewage ran directly into the Don, thankfully direct access is blocked by culverts, watersheds and smaller storm sewers before reaching our rivers and streams.   In fact there are at least 6 sewers plus a number of culverts that empty along the stretch of the Don.  
The Lower Don River

Environmental causes and groups crop up all over all the in and around major cities.  It's almost become trendy and fad to 'go green', save the planet, save our waters.  It's a good thing and from I see, work has paid off and will continue for generations to come.   

Humber West Trail

 Its that time of year again, when the air is a little fresher, crisper and humidity is a bad dream of the past.  Where a world of green is being slowly but surely transformed into a myriad of yellows, browns and reds.  Okay, okay I'm being a little dramatic, but autumn is soon upon us and you can see it in its abundance in our parks and trails.  There's no need to travel up north (although I wouldn't turn down the opportunity) there is still beauty here in southwestern Ontario.  In Humber West Trail park trail,  you'll see the parks and trails are being put to good use. 

A few signs going up warning parksters not to touch the "poisonous parsnip" plants.  Most of the plants are dead already.   There is so much confusion with this plant.  Cow parsnip has a few species. The tall flowering plant is either poisonous or not.  The water parsnip -- not.  The water hemlock is highly poisonous.  I just decided that I am not going near parsnip, period.  I suggest you do the same.  I couldn't stop taking pictures today because everything looked so pretty, so I am just overloading this post with too many photos!  The trail #15 North will ultimately take you as far north as Steeles avenue along the Humber Trail.  
Quick action and sharp eye prevented this little guy being a twin