Cresentwood Park / Toronto Hunt Club

Just west of 'Rosetta's Gardens' is the Toronto Hunt Club which purchased the property in 1895.  The property, which extends from Kingston Road to the lake shore hasn't been used in hunting activities since the 1930's when it became a private golf club.

I spoke to the Vice President of the Hunt Club to ask him a few questions about membership and whether I could take some pictures inside.  He told me a basic membership was $39,000 / per year!  He also mentioned that the 'Hunt Club' had put millions of dollars into cleaning up and revamping the lake front and the results were so good, others followed suit as an example.  So we wanted to have a peek at the 'modeled' beaches at the base of the bluffs to see how it looked.  

 We slid down the side of a very steep embankment (south end of Warden Avenue), roughly 30 metres down, followed by a few men who told me to 'take my time'.  It was smooth in some places, with the odd flat landing to rest before continuing.  Obviously going the right way, (as others were doing the same thing), I was pretty scared doing this (and I don't scare easily).  This was a private beach area so this would explain the unusual challenge getting to it.  I wouldn't be coming back up this way because I have already planned my route out to check out the R.C. Harris Filtration Plant west of here.

Finally at the bottom, we see shoreline, pristine beaches, a few scattered sunbathers, some rock piles, and no wait...what are they wearing? What is everyone not wearing is a better question?  It would seem entering west of Cresentwood Park and into the shoreline that followed, I was overdressed!  Quickly I put away my camera so they wouldn't think I was creeping them!  
looks kinda sad to me

The Vice President at the Hunt Club, must have forgotten to mention this to me....:)
Off note: The pictures for the Toronto Hunt Club will come at a later date.  Busy season (no doubt.. :)

Rosetta McClain Gardens

 Since we seem to be progressively traveling westward on the Waterfront trail these days, I thought I'd post a bit about the Rosetta McClain Gardens located about a kilometre west of the Scarborough Bluffs (Bluffers Park), just south of Kingston Road.  Passing through the wrought iron gates of Rosetta McClain Gardens, you will enter into 40 acres of nostalgic history.    You see, way back in 1904, Thomas McDonald West, owner and operator of the J & J Taylor Company had purchased the 40 acre farm overlooking Scarborough Bluffs.  Thomas and his wife Emma had divided the land among their four children, Joseph McDonald, William Needham, Howard Thomas and Rosetta.

Rosetta died close to Christmas of 1940 and left her husband behind for almost 20 years.  During that time, her husband and brother had made many historical landscape improvements to the property that she loved so much.  In 1959, her husband offered the property to the City of Toronto as parkland in her memory.  In 1977 the land was conveyed the the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and combined with portions of the J.M. and H.T. West property.  Today, Toronto owns 23 acres of the historical landscape as part of its parks system. Of the 23 acres, you will find rock fountains, arranged as such to allow you touch the the cascading water, textured paths, scent gardens, raised planters, and of course unique gardens.  

On this particular day, there were wedding photographs being taken using the lush floral arrangements as backdrops.  On the far southern point of the gardens you will see a beautiful view of the Scarborough bluffs from a clear vantage that will allow your imagination to slip back into a time when the family had owned a farm on the grounds.  It must have been such an amazing place to live.

Scarborough Bluffs Park (Waterfront Trail)

Entering Bluffers from Brimley Road south
One of the first views while descending into Scarborough Bluffs Park (the "Bluffs") from Brimley Road, will be the awesome view of Lake Ontario as well as the colourful masts of the Yachts below lined row by row.  The Bluffs is an escarpment in Toronto, Ontario which forms most of the eastern portion of Waterfront Trail. At one point the escarpment is as high as 65 metres (215ft) and spans more than 14 kilometres (8.5 miles).  There are views from the escarpment that look as though you aren't in Toronto anymore, but rather some rugged coast land in England or Scotland.  I imagine this is where Elizabeth Simcoe (wife of John Graves Simcoe) was inspired to name the area 'Scarborough' after 'Scarborough, England'  when they settled in Toronto in 1793.  
View from east end of Bluffs

It's a geological wonder.   The escarpment formed the old shoreline of Glacial Lake Iroquois which appeared after the last ice age.  When you are up close to the escarpment you can see it looks like clay which has been baked and cracked.  In fact parts of the 'alluvial deposits" which are sediments that have been reshaped by the water,  had settled westward to form the Toronto Islands that exist now. 

Dunkers Flow Balancing System
Different areas of Bluffers Park
Was fortunate enough to catch a 'birds eye' view of a Blue Heron on the far northwest shore of Bluffers Park.  I believe this is where they nest.  Around the nesting area of the wildlife here there are long docks that are locked and gated off.  There is a purpose for this particular area because it is a stormwater treatment system that was specifically designed and invented by Karl Dunkers of Sweden.  The purpose is to reduce the harmful effects of polluted runoff that flows from the City's storm sewers before it enters Lake Ontario.  If you want to read up on the design it is called the "Dunker's Flow Balancing System" 

Alluvial deposits
Bluffers Park  has a Restaurant, Yachting Clubs, Boat ramps, a Public beach and Picnic facilities and on any given pleasant day, you will most likely see gatherings of people, having picnics, sailing, or hiking through the many trails north of the lake closer to the bluffs, where there is an overgrowth of wildflowers and hidden coves.

Keep in mind though there are plenty of access points along the escarpment where there are no barriers, and erosion does occur along the edges and certain conditions like rain or snow can make the clay-like sandstone extremely slippery when wet.  Common sense takes precedence over curiosity here.  Especially since there are so many vantage points along the bluffs for great views without risking your life to do it :)

Guildwood Park / Guild Inn

I wasn't hungry on Saturday when the Taste of Danforth opened its streets up.  Hundreds of soak-drenched folks were enjoying the multicultural food and music festival while they temporarily took over the streets of Greektown.   

From somewhere arou

nd Jones Avenue to Broadview on Danforth in Toronto , the Tastes of Danforth festival runs until August 12th, where there are plenty of souvlakis and burgers, beer gardens, food stalls, and cooking demos are happening.  

But....I wasn't hungry :)  Instead, I Explored Toronto and a little rain never hurt anyone anyways, and in my thirst for more historical sites, the famous Guild Inn came to mind.

East of the Scarborough Bluffs is the quirky Guild Inn, an Arts & Crafts style mansion dating back from 1914 set among quiet lakefront parklands.  It was an artists' colony formed during the Depression: the garden has a collection of sculptures, Ionic columns and gargoyles rescued from condemned city buildings during the 50s.  

The Guild Inn or rather the estate was bought in 1932 by Rosa and Spencer Clarke who established it as the Guild of All Arts.  It was a rent free colony where more than 100 artists and artisans lived there creating sculptures, weaving , painting  woodworking and ceramics.  More and more visitors came to see their work and eventually guest rooms and dining rooms were added to the Inn.  

During the second war, the Guild was turned over to the Government and it was used by the Women's Royal Navy Service as a training naval base.  It was also used as a hospital for a while too.  

But eventually in 1947, the art colony was once again given back to the the Clarks and more and more acres were added to the property, but in the 50s the property taxes became so high, they sold off a lot of their land to developers.  This land now houses gorgeous homes and is known as Guildwood Village.  

Sadly, today the Guild Inn is a skeleton of its previous glory days, with danger and keep-out signs, asbestos and mould warnings inside.  Although the Inn is closed the Park is used and maintained by the City of Toronto, and people come to use the structures for weddings shoots and private functions.  I'm hoping that someday another Inn will be built and it will once again come back to its former glory, with its breathtaking views of the bluffs and Lake Ontario how could it possibly lose. 

 If you want to check out more of my pictures from the Guild Inn Click Here

Chedoke Radial Trail - Dundas Valley (C.A.)

Ever since the first time I ever saw Hamilton, I was in love. It's been an ongoing love story for me to return to the Escarpment, and though my current life in Toronto keeps me away for days at a time, I always find myself slipping back into the natural beauty that surrounds her.

The Chedoke radial trail is one of many trails in Dundas Valley and is part of the massive Bruce Trail.  It was once the Brantford and Hamilton Electrical Railway and now is a being used as a pedestrian and bike pathway that runs from Hillcrest Avenue southwest crossing the Chedoke Golf Course and crosses the escarpment to Scenic Drive.  This is about a 2.5 kilometre distance.  

You will see beautiful woodlands, hidden valleys, a variety of migrant and domestic birds, beautiful waterfalls such as Upper and Lower Chedoke, Westcliffe, Cliffview, Sanitorium and Mountview to name a few.  There are only a few sloping parts of trail that may make it somewhat of a challenge if you are walking a stroller, or in a wheelchair, but overall its a reasonably easy trail to explore.  

a very skinny deer on lower right of pic
I was shocked to see a deer foraging in the woods, and as quiet as I could be, I was amazed how trusting and confident she was just walking up closer to me.  I scrambled for my camera but wasn't able to get a decent shot, but am excited to try once again.   

If you are going on foot, the Chedoke Radial trail can also be assessed by a series of metal steps (300 in all) which descend from Upper Paradise Road (off of Scenic Drive) from the Escarpment.  Although the climb back up can be tiresome, from my own experience the ascent back up does gets easier every time you do it!