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Walking the City: through the Ben Jungle and beyond

November 12, 2013 | Shawn Micallef | Comments (0)

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Tomorrow (Wed Nov 12th) is the last of our Toronto walks. We went from bare-ankle walking to winter coats. The seasons move fast. Meet us at the reference library front entrance at 7PM for a meander through Yorkville's passageways.

Two weeks ago we began a Saturday afternoon Scarborough walk at the Bendale branch of TPL. It's there at the bottom of the above map, in the wedge of land created where Danforth and McCowan Roads converge. Danforth Road weaves its way across the city until it meets up with the other Danforth (Avenue) as if it's the Broadway of Scarborough, crossing the grid of arterials at its own angle. Our general route was around Thomson Park, which some detours, as you can see.


We briefly toured "The Hub," the strip mall just south of Lawrence on McCowan. It has a genuine barber's pole.


Our walk covered nearly 5 kilometers of varied territory. After the commercial diversion, we head down into the Highland Creek ravine, passing by some of Scarborough's great modernist housing. The Brady bunch could live here.


The creek and path lead south by southeast from Thomson Park, slipping under the roadways making the Scarborough landscape of large roads and traffic seem far away. You can follow this path all the way to the mouth of the creek, meandering across Scarborough, below UTSC, except for the part of the creek that flows through Scarborough Golf and Country Club, where surface streets are required. All over Toronto golf courses block ravine path connectivity. We headed northwest though.


Like on our previous Etobicoke Creek walk, storm water has carved away some of the pathway. This area had been fenced off, so not recent. Water was running fast the day we were out after a morning of heavy rain. Here we're heading north — that's Lawrence in the background.


Under the Lawrence bridge.


We then popped up into the "Ben Jungle," where a dozen or so streets are named Ben-something.


Crossing over we wandered along St. Andrews Road, one of my favourite places in Toronto. For about half a kilometer it's a one-lane, country road.

Bendale Walk 073

Some of Scarborough's oldest buildings are on this road.

Bendale Walk 074

Bendale Walk 080

Bendale Walk 082

It was appropirate we came upon Scarborough's first public library along St. Andrews road, next door to St. Andrews Church, by the St. Andrews cemetary where some of the Scarborough's first european settlers are buried.

Bendale Walk 100

Cutting through the middle of Thomson Park we stopped by the Scarborough Historical Museum, a collection of historic buildings moved to this site from around Scarobourgh. We were invited in for some warm apple cider and bread baked in their wood burning stove.

Bendale Walk 103

Back towards the library we crossed the Gatineau hydro corridor. It runs diagonal across Scarborough and often has bike highways, though they aren't yet continuous. It does provide some vistas and open country though that, along with the creek ravines, are alternative routes through Scarborough.


There are a 1000 stories in the naked city, as the saying goes, and you should be writing some of them. Writer in Residence Shawn Micallef will be encouraging people to write about their city. Follow along here on city explorations and journeys into the library stacks. Shawn will also be posting some of the city-writing that he receives from people like you.

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