At 2 pm on Sunday 20th September, a group recruited by several organizations met at the Ben Nobleman Park Community Orchard opposite the Eglinton West subway station for an interesting walk, starting at the orchard and proceeding through the ravine. Some 40 people turned out. There were no fewer than 5 leaders. Here they all are in the park: from left to right, Paula Messina, Michael Wheeler, Helen Mills, Susan Poizner and Susan Aaron.
Paula Messina led off with a description of her project, Rivers Rising, details of which can be found at http://www.torontogreen.ca. Here is the crowd watching the leaders:
Next up was Susan Poizner (seen below with Susan Aaron in front of her). We were actually standing in the middle of “her” orchard, which now has 14 trees, including apples, apricots, cherries, pears and plums. She described the difficulties they had had with various fruit tree diseases and how in some cases they had had to take the difficult decision to remove diseased trees. Details of the orchard can be found at http://www.orchardpeople.com
We then proceeded down Everden Rd to the park entrance at Ava Rd. Once inside the park, Susan Aaron explained that the planting we could see on our left was the most recent one by Friends of Cedarvale, in conjunction with Parks; it had been done by a group of volunteers last year. Michael, Susan and Helen described how the Spadina Expressway was to have run through the ravine, but it was stopped thanks to Jane Jacobs and others in 1969. Unfortunately however, the ravine was still torn apart to make way for the subway and a trunk storm sewer.
Above you can see Helen Mills standing in front of the sumac stand to the west of the path; behind her are several apple trees (some of them shown in the photo at the head of the web site). Helen explained that the only native apples are crab-apples. All other varieties, including those here, were imported by the settlers. Helen also talked about the “lost rivers” of Cedarvale. The main one was Castle Frank Brook; where we were standing was the original course of a tributary, Cedarbrae Stream; the confluence of the two was somewhere around the Phil White Arena. Castle Frank Brook flowed into the Don River. The small streams that are visible in the ravine are surface runoff streams, leading to the sewer. Information about lost rivers can be found at http://www.lostrivers.ca
Above you can see the crowd looking up at the apples and sumacs
Michael Wheeler (seen above) of the David Suzuki Foundation Homegrown National Park organization described his work as a “ranger” for the park. He gave out copies of 3 useful information sheets from the TRCA: Naturescaping (selecting native plants for your garden); Butterfly Gardens (selecting plants that attract butterflies); and Beneficial Insects (examples of such insects and how to attract them).
Next we moved on to the small wetland opposite the tennis courts (seen above). A monarch butterfly flew by and Helen talked about the vital role of milkweed for these butterflies. She added that unfortunately Parks have mown the edges of the main path and taken out 80% of the milkweed. I knew there was a reason why I did not like this mowing.
We passed under the Bathurst St bridge (above) and Helen talked about the cat-tail wetland that has established itself in that area. It was now 4 pm and I had to leave, but the group continued on to the Heath St entrance.
A great deal of disparate information was imparted by our 5 leaders during this most interesting walk. I have only given snippets of it here; it included orchard care, apples in the ravine, lost rivers, history of the ravine, birds, butterflies, flowers, trees and much more. Many thanks to our 5 organizers!