With an abundance of parks and natural areas, Toronto has long been called “the city within a park,” so it should come as no surprise that it is also home to one of the largest ravine systems in the world. Spanning more than 11,000 hectares and encompassing 17 percent of the city, ravines travel over, under, and across Toronto, providing a natural retreat from city life, within the city!
In a rapidly growing city like ours, the importance of the ravines only increases. Toronto’s ravine system is home to almost 90 percent of its wildlife, and the majority of the city’s water infrastructure relies on ravines to absorb and filter stormwater, playing a vital role in flood protection.
Evergreen has been deeply connected to the ravines, with some of its earliest activities including tree planting with the community in the Don Valley. The Bricks Works, Evergreen’s headquarters, is a year-round destination where the world comes to experience sustainability in action. The abandoned Don Valley Brick Works factory was transformed in 2010 into a vibrant cultural hub and gateway into the ravine system. Since its opening, the Brick Works has welcomed visitors to the ravines and engaged them through children’s school programs, camps, hikes, rides, public markets, gardens, stewardship efforts, exhibits and public art installations. During the pandemic, the public can continue to explore Toronto’s ravines, a family-friendly adventure that allows for social distancing!
Take a stroll through the Lower Don Trail and explore the Evergreen’s Public Art Program, taking in the commissioned artworks that respond to the Don Valley’s ecological, cultural, industrial, and Indigenous histories and future.
Cree artist Duane Linklater’s Monsters for Beauty, Permanence and Individuality—a series of cast concrete sculptures just north of Bloor viaduct along the trail—shows replicas of gargoyles adorning prominent buildings in downtown Toronto.
Toronto-based artist Will Kwan’s A Park for All mural is visible along the stretches of the industrial retaining wall of Toronto’s Don River, south of Riverdale Park. Kwan’s hand-painted text installation speaks to the endlessly differing, and at times opposing, constituents of Toronto’s public spaces, to community expectations for urban parks in general and for the Don River Valley Park in particular.
Small Worlds for Small Creatures: Make a Mini-Home for Our Ravine-Dwelling Friends!
Find a spot in the ravines and think about who might live here. Look and around you and begin to collect fallen leaves, twigs, pine cones, and loose materials. Build a mini-home for them. Get creative with your homes—who knows, maybe a mouse would love having a balcony and slide in their home! Evergreen Brick Works has even more family-friendly ravine activities in their Ravine Play Activity Book!
Find activities, trails, information, and more at www.evergreen.ca
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