Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe founded modern urban Toronto (i.e. Town of York), when he established Fort York in 1793. At that time, Garrison Creek flowed in a large deep ravine with several tributaries, from north of St. Clair Avenue to Lake Ontario.
The creek had sparkling clear water and was famous for its salmon fishing. The British built Fort York at the mouth of the creek to guard against possible American attempts to invade Canada.
As the new town of York grew into Toronto, breweries were built on the creek to take advantage of the clean water. Soon, other entrepreneurs developed land beside the creek, as abattoirs, market gardens, Trinity College and residential country estates.
Dozens of bridges were built over the ravine. By 1880, development along the ravine had polluted the creek. Toronto officials buried the creek in an underground sewer where it flows today. Later, the city gradually filled in sections of the ravine and demolished or buried the bridges. At least two of these original bridges remain invisible but intact, buried under Harbord Street and under Crawford Street.
Today, you can find evidence of the creek’s former alignment by following the Garrison Creek Discovery Walk as it meanders along curving neighbourhood streets and through a series of interconnected parks and open spaces.
Community groups and the City of Toronto are attempting to raise awareness of the existence of the buried creek and its tributaries and to honour it as an important public amenity. Civic improvements to parks, roads, sidewalks and boulevards found along the creek’s original route are planned. As well, extensions of this walking route are planned to the north and west.
Enjoy Toronto, the City in a Park!
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