Public Drop-In Event about proposed dog off-leash area in Nordheimer

28th November: There will be a public drop-in event about the proposed new dog off-leash area (DOLA) for Sir Winston Churchill park in the Nordheimer Ravine from 6.30 to 8.30 pm on Tuesday 11th December at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church, Flora McCrea Auditorium (Room 109). A feedback form will be available. This form will also be posted to the web site on the day of the event:

The contact is Andrew Plunkett 416-397-1968,

The proposed area is technically in Sir Winston Churchill Park, due to the fact that, for some reason, that park has a section that projects south across the ravine to the houses on Ardwold Gate (there must be some historical reason for this). But the DOLA would actually be in the Nordheimer Ravine. There were reasons why it could not be in the part of the park on top of the reservoir, as before (explained in the announcement). It is just to the east side of the Spadina Rd bridge and just outside the Environmentally Significant Area. If you want to find out about the DOLA and express your views, you should go to the event and/or make them known via the feedback form, by e-mail or phone.

Site of Glen Cedar footbridge construction finally cleared!

This was the scene on 23rd November, as the cleanup was under way:


The benches had been hidden away somewhere and emerged amidst the rubble:


Unfortunately, this one had been graphiti’d.


By 24th November, things were looking better:


On 27th November, these and some others by the small wooden bridge were all that was left:


I was assured by the construction manager that these last items will be gone by the end of the week (footnote: they have now gone). Soon the whole site should look like this:


There will still be some smaller garbage items to pick up: I have started on them. Some replanting is planned in the spring, using funds provided by Transportation to Parks.  I have the name of the Forestry contact and we will endeavour to have some input.

John Cummings


Winter comes early to Cedarvale

22nd November: Cedarvale’s first major snowfall occurred over 15-16th November; I took these photos on 16th. The red berries stand out starkly against the snow:


A very wintry scene for this time of year:


This is a close-up from the above scene:


Fresh wood chips for the doggies

Earlier in the month, I came upon this large truck, full of fresh wood chips for the dog park:


The supervisor is making certain the operative blows the chips into the right spot!


More fall photos

Anyone know where this is? A tell-tale edge of wall at the back gives it away.


Another fall shot: as usual, the cat-tails stay on well into the winter:


Hidden large tree

Lastly, I think this is one of the largest trees in the park. Unfortunately, it is dead. I guess it is a willow. Where is it?


Glen Cedar footbridge and stairs

Work was completed several weeks ago. I am informed that all the huts, equipment etc. will be gone by the end of the month. That gives them 6 working days!

Coywolf scoop on our Facebook page

Our Facebook page has had a real hit, with a post about a coywolf sighted on Millbank Avenue heading into the park.  Leslie, who manages our FB, says it is by far the most popular post she has created, and has reached 2,855 people. Have a look at it! (It is under “Posts”.) There is also a posting about the “ecological collapse” in Toronto’s ravines owing to invasive species. I think this is a somewhat exaggerated view, at least in regard to Cedarvale, but I will be the first to admit that I am no expert.

John Cummings

Birding report from Ken Morin

7th November

I walked from the subway entrance to the Glen Cedar bridge and back; didn’t go beyond due to the mud. Do hope they finish soon and remove all the gear and site offices.

The start wasn’t too promising; near the marsh a ruby crowned kinglet was foraging in the grass/weeds close to the path. Near Black Rocks a song sparrow showed, and a northern cardinal (young female) ticked and was spotted in the brush. A brown creeper landed and began the corkscrew movement up a tree. Goldfinches zoomed across the path. As I turned around to return a hairy woodpecker started hammering on branches. It alit to within 10′ so ID was easy. A robin dined on berries. A dark eyed junco flew off. Along the path white throated sparrows pecked at seeds along the path. Later, a black capped chickadee was seen on the goldenrod, foraging for food. There are several species which are seed eaters — finches, sparrows, chickadees — and can be seen at edge of the trail in places where the goldenrod has flourished. You might flush them as you stroll along. They tend not to go too far away, usually within sight and return when you pass. Many of these mentioned birds will be the winter residents of the ravine, along with nuthatches, winter wrens and hawks. Enjoy them. Any bird tough enough to live in winter deserves our attention.

More trees for Cedarvale; new stairs now open; winter dog off-leash area

2nd November: The park has gained 14 new trees and new mulch on others along the path between the dog park and the northern playing field. On Tuesday 30th October, I observed lots of activity, including this cheery fellow:


He was the one who told me about the 14 trees. Two more workers were mulching a new tree:


Here are some other trees waiting to be planted:


New stairs now open

The new stairs recently opened; the steps themselves are steel and the sides and handrail wood. The signs at the south end of the park warning that the steps are closed should be coming down soon.

IMGP8121 New signs have gone up, but someone has already scrawled on one of them:


The project manager says that all the supplies, equipment and the trailers will be cleared away by the end of November; apparently they have a few remaining tasks.

Winter dog off-leash area fenced off

The rather unsightly black plastic fence has gone up again, delineating the winter dog off-leash area:


More fall colours


The fall display continues:


This is my favourite time of year:


We will be at our table at the EcoFair on Sunday 4th November from 11 am to 4 pm. Hope to see some of you there!

John Cummings

Fall comes to Cedarvale; footbridge and bird reports

23rd October: After several tiring days working in the Civic Election, I was happy to get back to the peace and quiet of the park, where the fall colours are beginning to show:


The sun was shining and the sky provided a beautiful blue backdrop:


There were various shades of green, brown, yellow and red:


This tree is beside the path towards the Ava Rd entrance:


This one is simply bright red against the blue background:


Here is my wife, Ilene, with the reddening sumacs behind her:


The resurfacing and repainting of the Glen Cedar footbridge is complete, and the scaffolding was coming down when I shot this photo:


The new stairs are almost finished. I talked to a worker today, who said they should be open in “2-3 days”.


Let us hope that all the paraphernalia and the construction workers’ huts can be removed and the site cleaned up by the end of the month! Then maybe there will be some replanting in the spring. Will there be an opening ceremony I wonder? And who would formally declare the bridge open?

Our resident birder, Ken Morin, was in the ravine a week ago and sent this report:

16th October: “The fall migration is well underway. I hadn’t strolled in the ravine for a while and was pleased to see black capped chickadees and ruby crowned kinglets feeding along the path. I only walked to the bridge not the whole length of park. On my return a click made me stop and there was a cardinal in the shrubs next to me. A bit of phishing brought out a song sparrow, a female goldfinch and a winter wren, a feisty little fellow with a cocked up tail. There are birds present but the strong gusts push them and the insects to ground so be sure to look down as well as up”.

Our next appearance will be at the Green Neighbours 21 EcoFair at the Wychwood Barns on Sunday 4th November from 11 am to 4 pm. Please visit our table there.

John Cummings

Another planting added in Cedarvale

28th September: Over 6 years we have now completed 8 plantings in Cedarvale Park. Last Saturday 22nd September we added 150 trees and bushes to our very first planting, on the slope beside the dog park. The weather was pleasantly cool – just right for planting. Volunteer numbers were small  at first, but by 11 am we had 40-50 people. Once again Cheryl Post of Parks was in charge, with 3 other Parks staff to assist. Here is Karen Sun, well known to us as a nature walk leader, now giving a planting demonstration:


Here is the group watching the demo:


This group is listening to instructions from someone off-camera:


Three happy volunteers! In the background you can see the (finally) completed shade structure:


What is this? Someone spotted it right beside the planting area. It is a giant puffball (a form of mushroom):


Another happy volunteer, just plopping a tree into its hole:


This man came out to our planting on the steps up from the arena carpark two years ago. He is with Optimum SBR Canada, a consulting firm. They sent a group of 7-8 people.


Delta Toronto Hotel sent a group of about 10 people. As usual, groups formed the majority of the volunteers and heard about the planting from the city’s web site. There was a group from Amma Canada, part of the worldwide Amma organization. There were several people from our e-mail list and also several neighbourhood families, such as this one:


Unfortunately, the mulch contractor had arrived at the wrong time, when Parks staff were not there, and had left the mulch beside the arena. This meant that it all had to be moved, in one wheelbarrow and many pails, across from the arena to the dog park. Here is Steering Committee member, Ivor, with the same 3 happy volunteers we saw earlier:


This young lad was having a great time helping his Dad with the mulch:


There is a technical term for these things that I cannot remember; they are cardboard, fit neatly around the stem of the plant and the mulch goes on top of them:


Another one is being installed around a white pine at bottom right below:


We were all finished before noon. Thanks to Cheryl and her staff for setting out the plants before our arrival,  instructing us on proper planting techniques and monitoring us as we planted and mulched the trees and bushes. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. Here is the list of species:

Plant list
Raspberry, black 25
                     purple flowering 25
Dogwood, alternate-leaf 10
                   grey 20
Sumac, staghorn 20
Pasture rose 20
Serviceberry 15
Aspen, trembling 5
Oak, bur 2
          red 2
Basswood 2
Maple, sugar 2
Pine, Eastern white 2
Total 150

Our next event will be a table at the EcoFair at Wychwood Barns on Sunday 4th November 11 am to 4 pm. Come and talk to us there!

John Cummings

Plant ID walk with Toronto Bruce Trail Club

19th September: Marilyn MacKellar and Glynn Richardson of the Toronto Bruce Trail Club led another of their plant identification walks last Sunday 16th September. This was a combined group of BT and Friends of Cedarvale members. Marilyn can be seen talking to the group in the photo below (thanks to Glynn for the photos; I was not able to be there):

Cedarvale MacKellar hike 16th September 2018

There were 24 people at the start of the hike, fewer at the end. As usual, the group proceeded slowly, identifying plants along the way. Marilyn said the group asked a lot of questions, most of which she and Glynn were able to answer. This is a non-native invasive plant that is more prevalent than we would like in the park:

Cedarvale MacKellar hike 16th September 2018 3

It is the rather pretty flower of common burdock (arctium minus). The plant in the next photo looks like a cobweb. It is your puzzle for the week. If anyone can identify it, let me know:

Cedarvale MacKellar hike 16th September 2018 2

Many thanks to Marilyn and Glynn for organizing this hike. They plan another one next spring. Marilyn says that someone left with one of her books. If that is you, please contact me and I will arrange to return the book to her.

Our next event is a tree planting at 10 am on Saturday 22nd September. It will be on the slope at the south end of the dog park. Parking is available in the Phil White Arena parking lot, or on Strathearn Rd or Heathdale/Humewood entrance. Hope to see some of you there!

John Cummings

Miles Hearn leads another great nature walk

6th September: On a hot and humid Sunday 2nd September, Miles Hearn led us on another of his fascinating nature walks. Much earlier in the year he had taken us on a snowy winter walk, starting at the subway (see January blog posting). This time we started from the Phil White Arena and did a circular tour. Miles has kindly allowed me to make use of his photos, which are much better than mine. Here is the cricket pitch, seen from the path down from Heathdale/Humewood:

Here is the group of 16 of us half-way through the hike:

Miles always amazes me with his ability to name almost everything he sees, be it plant, tree, bird, insect or mushroom. This time he concentrated on flowers, but also mentioned anything else that caught his attention. Below are some of the flowers we saw:

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)

Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)

Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus)

Arrow-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum urophyllum)

Here Miles is identifying a tree mushroom (photo lower down):


These are more of the flowers he identified:

Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)

Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota)

Here he is pointing out dock:


This is one of the invasive, non-native trees, of which we have many:

Common Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

We also saw and/or heard a few birds. This is one of them:

Northern Flicker

Other birds were warbling vireo, American robin and hairy and downy woodpeckers.

This plant is quite common in the park:

Beggar Ticks (Bidens frondosa)

Here is Miles expounding to the group:


We saw several of these:

Jerusalem -artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)

Birdfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculaltus)

This is the tree mushroom referred to above:

Dryad’s Saddle

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Miles is a very active nature walk leader, as you can see from his web site; I note he did 25 walks in May, almost one a day.  Our walk is already written up:

I have added the bird species list from his report: Cooper’s hawk, turkey vulture, northern flicker, hairy woodpecker, downy woodpecker, blue jay, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, gray catbird, European starling, house sparrow, northern cardinal, American goldfinch. (13 species)

Our next event will be a rather different (slower) approach to nature walks, led by Marilyn MacKellar and Glynn Richardson for the Toronto Bruce Trail Club. It will start from the St Clair W subway exit on Heath St W at 10 am on Sunday 16th September.

John Cummings