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Don Valley: Past, Present and Future Opportunities

By Floyd Ruskin, Lost Rivers and A Park for All

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Sunday, May 7

10:00AM - 12:00PM


Language: English 

Area: Don Valley

Theme: Advocacy and Politics, Arts and Culture, Environment and Sustainability, History and Community

Accessibility: Uneven terrain, Stairs or other barriers, Family-friendly walk, Walk leader will use audio amplification


Toronto's Don River is Canada's most urbanized river. Stretching south from its headwaters in the Oak Ridges Moraine and running 36km before emptying into Lake Ontario, the Don has been profoundly changed by overuse, pollution, industry, road and railways and urbanization since the beginning of Toronto as a colonial city.

Before the 1790s, the Don Valley was wild and unspoiled. Over the next two centuries, the river was harnessed, channelled, polluted, moved and ignored. This walk will look at how humans have impacted the valley and how it is being reclaimed as a vital green space at the heart of the city.

The river was renamed by the first colonial Governor - Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe. This was just one of many re-namings that obscured over 11,000 years of Indigenous history with an overlay of colonial “reality”. We will talk on the walk about versions of the original name, Wonscotanach, and possible English translations.

The walk will discuss lessons learned, lessons forgotten and opportunities that can be realized that remained to be addressed along this unique urban watershed.

Walk leaders: Floyd Ruskin and friends

Start at St Matthews Clubhouse, 450 Broadview Ave at Langley. Easily accessible by transit.
A mostly flat linear walk of 2.5km, concluding at Todmorden Mills at Pottery Road or follow along to Evergreen Brickworks to enjoy the site or take the free shuttle back to Broadview Station

There is one set of stairs to navigate with public washrooms at the start and at Todmorden and Evergreen.

About 1.5 to 2 hours.

Rain or shine

  • Walk Start Location: Don Valley; 450 Broadview at Langley. Walk leader will have Walk With us Janes Walk signs.

  • Walk End Location: Evergreen Brickworks 550 Bayview Avenue

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