Second Marsh (Waterfront Trail)

 It was quite the cold, rainy, blustery weekend, and wearing boots with a slow leak doesn't make it much better when you are in the middle of a trail...The Second Marsh is a 'Class 2' Provincially Significant Wetland that covers about 120 hectares (300 acres).  

Although it is said that there are about 250 species of migratory birds, I never saw one..probably because they... migrated.  You won't see any coho salmon or rainbow trout anymore at this time of year, as they spawn in the streams that feed the marsh in the early autumn.

The Second Marsh is rehabilitated, as habitat islands were built, and nesting boxes are set to encourage breeding.  The water circulation has improved after they removed the log jams.  If you stick on this trail you'll no doubt find the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve which is owned and operated by General Motors of Canada.  This parcel of land covers  about 100 acres, and the reserve lies between the Second Marsh on the west and Darlington Provincial Park on the east.  
In the late 1980's General Motors planned their corporate headquarters, by inviting reps from the Second Marsh to discuss the concerns of migratory birds flying into windows, storm water management and other matters.  Once the discussions were over, an idea developed to create a buffer between the Second Marsh and the office complex.  

Today you will see  quite a few different trails; some are well groomed and have hard surfaces to allow access for bikes, while others are grass paths or wooden-chipped trails.  As you can see by some of the pictures I took, I preferred to get right into the grass, but unfortunately it wasn't long before I realized I should have stuck to the hardened walkways.  

If you are curious whatever happened to the 'First Marsh', it was filled and dredged out of existence to create Oshawa Harbour.  That was about thirty years ago, and it was feared the Second Marsh would have the same fate, and it almost did.  In 1964, the Oshawa Harbour Commission wanted to expand the harbour to acquire the Second Marsh, but there was strong opposition by the Oshawa Naturalist Club, Jim Richards (Manager of the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife reserve) and 11 other naturalist groups.  It took time, but by the early 1980's independent studies by the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada underlined the importance of the Marsh which proves that there is definitely strength in numbers.  If people could only realize the power they have to make change if there is a cause that they believe strongly in...

Now, I need to look at getting some new boots..

Highland Creek Watershed (Morningside Park)

The Highland Creek watershed consists of several neighbourhood greening projects.  

During a November frost, I wanted to take pictures of Morningside Park and the Main Highland Creek branch which is just northeast of the Hague and Cedarbrook parks (see blog).  This covered my two interests of both exploring the various park systems in Toronto as well as understanding more about how the watershed diverts the flow of storm/sewage run-off, which is so critical to our clean water supply. (ref: R.C. Harris Filtration Plant in this blog for more information on water filtration)

Morningside Park is as beautiful as I was told, and very large.  The University of Toronto campus (Scarborough) overlooks the park.  There are birdhouses in the park which contribute to the expansion of the bird habitat.  

The trail has some pretty amazing sights.  I saw a number of hawks in the area, but they were just a little too quick for me!  

Like most large cities, Toronto has our own spread of graffiti culture.  It's all around us, livening up Cabbagetown, drearily-coloured factories, the walls of old office buildings and through pedestrian tunnels like the Moccasin Trail.  Whereas other cities label them as 'art crimes' or 'vandalism', Toronto encourages our street artists.   Judge for yourself by these photographs that were taken from the base of the Kingston-Galloway-Orton Park Bridge.  While looking at them, all I kept thinking was, how could anyone call this graffiti? 

A couple of years ago, a  265 metres long bridge was put up joining two neighbourhoods together (Kingston-Galloway and Orton Park).  It was a success in every way including bringing the cultural and arts communities together.  The art work at the base of the bridge was actually done by 20 local youths which just humbled me that young people could be just so talented and here was a perfect opportunity for them to show it off forever.  

Further along the trail there were these cute smilies painted on sewage drains coming into and out of the parks.  The West Highland Branch was photographed recently (Hague/Cederbrook parks), but I completely messed up with my camera settings this time for the waterflow from the Main Highland Creek, but at least you will be able to see that both Scarborough and the watershed treatment projects in your neighbourhood not only create a practical purpose, but can be aesthetically beautiful as well.

Highland Creek Watershed (Hague & Cedarbrook Parks)

cute little waterfall
Sometimes you can find beauty in the most unexpected places.  A recent trip in an old neighbourhood of Scarborough East took me by surprise as looking through my camera's eyes.  

Hague and Cedarbook Parks are part of new efforts to restore the Highland Creek Watershed.  There are 6 separate neighbourhood greening projects as part of this urban watershed that covers a land space of about 85 kilometres.  

Each neighbourhood has their own responsibility to the project.  The residents nearby Hague and Cedarbrook parks planted native trees in and around the area.  This, I was told "not only beautifies the neighbourhood, but also shelters the surrounding homes from the heat in the summer, and winds in the winter" which helps reduce energy bills.      

What is a watershed you might ask?  Simply put, it's just an area of land that catches the rain and snow and drains it into our rivers, streams, marshes, and eventually into our lakesA better way of thinking of it is that it is  like a filter for our fresh water supply.  This is why it's so important to maintainThere are literally hundreds of parks in Toronto, Ontario and each one does it's part.  

The time of year is Autumn, but late Autumn when leaves are few, so capturing the one last dying leaf on a tree can be symbolic sometimes, like the one last maple leaf that was captured.  

I think even for a watershed, this cute little waterfall is still quite nice, even if I did give the photo a little tweek :)  There were also dozens of wooden bird houses set along the paths to keep native birds safely in their own habitat.  There will be more on this further on, in exploring Toronto.


CN Tower and The Rogers Centre

  I wondered when I would get around to mentioning the obvious when 'exploring Toronto'.  The CN Tower and Rogers Centre is about as commercial as a Walt Disney movie for kids.  This drive by shooting I took on the QEW heading west was too good to not write about.  To tell you the truth, I was surprised any of the pictures came out at all...

The CN Tower and Rogers Centre now go together, hand in hand like bread and butter and believe me it offers plenty of 'bread n butter' to Toronto's Tourism and Commerce.  Well the CN Tower was once the tallest free-standing structure in the world, and that record held for a few decades until Dubai had built 'the Burj Kalifa' which was completed 2010, with Japan's Skytree coming in second by a few hundred metres short built in 2011.  Toronto's CN Tower come in a close 4th now at 553 metres up.  I remember  taking my two sons there when they were young and we had the most amazing day!! We saw a 3-D movie half way up the tower in the HIMALAMAZON Motion Theatre.  It's a ride that displays a 3-D film for 15 minutes while the seat rocks you back and forth and side to side in sync with the movie! Now they've added other attractions here like a 2.5 inches of glass over 342 metres over the ground, Skypod and the Edgewalk.  The existing 360 Revolving restaurant is still in full swing, but not at all like back in the 80's when we were 'burning up the dance floor' :)

Aside from its recreational uses, the CN Tower has more practical and necessary uses as a TV-radio communications tower.

Next to it is the 'Rogers Centre'.  Although Rogers used the power of money and bidding power to buy the commercial rights to the building, thus advertising their namesake, it will always be SKYDOME to me. That was in 1989.  This is home to the Toronto Blue jays and the Toronto Argos, but I'm not a sports fan in the least.    Rogers Centre, also has  been known to host fairs and conventions.  In fact, the 'Skydome' will be hosting the 2015 Pan American Games for the opening and closing ceremonies.  I know that seems like a long way off, but you'll be amazed how fast time flies.

Westcliffe Falls - Hamilton

I have been down in Chedoke Valley (Radial Trail) a few times since last winter, but haven't seen Westcliffe Falls yet.  You can hear the water from up top (Scenic Drive/Paradise Rd) coming into the gorge, but you can’t actually see anything from up there.   

There wasn't much of a flow to her at this time of year, but it promises to never dry up!  Westcliffe is one of several waterfalls you’ll see if you take the Iroquoia trail off Chedoke Radial.    It’s a terraced, ribbon cascade that stands about 15 metres high and has a wide chest of about 3 metres.  

The easiest way to get to it, is to go down the steel stairway (about 300 steps) and walk up the dirt footpath located on the left embankment from Lower Westcliffe / Lower Cliffview.  You will see it up on your right side once you are over the top.  

I took the hard way down and instead of using the stairs, I dragged and skidded myself down the side of the embankment wall until I reached the bottom of the gorge.  After a few cuts, scrapes and bruises, using the staircase (which is what I was trying to avoid) seems like a better choice....and a safer one!

Although the terrain is very rugged and sparse, there are still some very scenic views down in the valley here.  One of which is the really neat tiered staircase that has been carved out by glaciers as well.  This area would be best viewed though in the spring/summer or perhaps early autumn. 

more notes:
See Lower Cliffview Falls / Lower West on this blog  -  is a 4 metre high and 3 metre wide classic cascade waterfall found just north of the Cliffview Falls.