2.1 km of Garrison Creek
This reach lies in the former City of York from its source to about 80 metres north of St. Clair Ave. W. where Garrison Creek entered the former City of Toronto. It had one tributary, Springmount Stream, which entered just north of Davenport Rd. and is described in its own page. The area is residential except for a commercial strip along St. Clair Ave.
Sanitary Sewage from the most of the area in the former City of York flows to the Humber Sewage Treatment Plant. That from the former City of Toronto and a few blocks of the City of York just north of former Toronto empties to the Ashbridges Bay Sewage Treatment Plant. Surface water in the north part has been diverted to the Spadina Storm Trunk Sewer in the neighbouring Castle Frank Book valley and thence to Yellow Creek and Don River. Surface water in the south-western part flows via storm trunks that take it to Lake Ontario near High Park. Surface water and CSOs from the south- eastern part flows via storm trunks to Toronto Bay near Fort York. CSOs from the south-western part flow to an outlet just west of the CNE.
Tree cover is light to moderate in this reach in the former City of York: Trees noted included Silver, Norway and Manitoba Maples, Elms, Linden, Colorado, Norway and White Spruces and other species such as White Birch, Larch, Ash, Red Oak, Catalpa, Honey Locust, Mountain Ash and Cherry. The tree cover in the former City of Toronto is somewhat heavier being moderate to fair with similar trees. There are however more Oaks here; thus the name Oakwood Ave. for the arterial north south street just to the west.
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There are two ways to start walking The Humewood Reach, one of the headwaters of Garrison Creek. One, is to start at Humewood and St. Clair and walk north. This way one walks through the 40 acre estate owned by William Blake in the 1850’s and Adam Parkinson in the 1870’s. Their home, Humewood House, was made into a house for “Wayward” Women in the 1890’s and is now a residential, counselling and community services centre for young women and their families. This centre, and Humewood Park across the street are located on hill, or drumlin, formed by the Wisconsinan Glacier during its dying years 12,000 years ago. There is probably 60 m or more of glacial drift over the bedrock in this location.
Walk to Maplewood Ave. and look down on Humewood School and across the valley through which the headwaters stream of Garrison Creek once flowed. It is still there, but in a sewer pipe. This stream began to flow about 12,500 years ago, when the last ice over this part of Toronto, melted. In the early 1900’s the streams in this part of what was then the Township of York were put into sewers and their valleys were filled. Walk to Valewood Ave. which follows the course of the former stream.
The other way to start is to take the Vaughan Rd. bus (#90) to Wychwood and walk south to Valewood Ave. While the valley is faint at Wychwood, it becomes clearer as one walks along Valewood west to Arlington. Valewood is broken between Humewood and Cherrywood by Humewood School, one of many schools built over former streams.
At the end of Valewood take the lane to Winnette, where it is necessary to detour to Hursting and Winona as the rout of the stream goes though private yards. It crosses Winona at Coates; goes past the end of Falwyn and over to Roseneath and Glenhurst. At Winona and Dundurn the valley deepens. St Alphonsus School and surrounding homes are sited on east side of valley
Cross Glenhurst into Glenhurst Park and continue through the No Frills parking lot. This was part of the 50 acre Dudley Jessop farm in the 1870’s. The boundary between the former Cities of York and Toronto runs across the parking lot about 80 metres north of St. Clair Ave. In 1906, the Crang family acquired 12 ac.(Glenhurst to St. Clair ) and built their home on the west bank (demolished 2002). They constructed and operated athletic field, swimming pools, skating rinks, (1926 - 1945), stock-car track in 40’s. The house was given to YMCA about 1927, sold to Robina Ballroom 1996. Citizens tried to persuade the municipalities to establish a park here in 1980’s. In 1997, Borough of York negotiated a lease with Manulife to develop Glenhurst Park. The creek alignment was in lane between No Frills & Blockbuster. Blockbuster was Frank Crang’s garage. The liquor store marks the location of the swimming pools. In 1911, the valley was 6 to 9 m deep here and there was a causeway & plank walkway across creek. Brass markers were installed in the sidewalks on both sides of St. Clair in the summer 1998 when the street was repaved. An interesting link for those who would like to know more about this district is www.mystclair.com.
Cross St. Clair with the light at Winona and follow Winona south to Benson Ave. and west to Alberta Ave. The Mead House at 180 Winona is set well back from the street; the creek used to run in front of it under a small bridge. The Paxton House, built in 1890, at 150 Winona was the home of Margaret Hendrick Paxton who kept ducks in the creek behind the house. She obtained fill from housing development to the east, to level the lots 152,154 156 & 158 and built these houses. The fill was probably horsedrawn. McMurrich & Winona Drive Schools to the south east are on the site of Greensides Brickyard.
Follow Alberta Ave. south to Mount Royal Ave. and that south to Davenport. Note the retaining walls behind houses on Alberta. Mount Royal Parkette and the traffic “island” are potential locations for creek recognition. Thome Crescent looks like a side ravine, but is probably just a road cut to meet the grade at Mount Royal.
“The Big House” or “Hilltop”
Jethro Crang built “The Big House” also known as “Hilltop” at 2 Regal Road in 1921, Numbers 6 and 8 were added in 1922. There were tennis courts and a garage for 11 cars north of the houses; vehicle access was from Oakwood. A grandson of Jethro redeveloped the Big House site as apartments in about 1955, causing a family split. “Quicksand” caused foundations difficulties during construction. This type of problem is frequently encountered along the course of former streams.
Springmount Stream, also considered the west branch headwaters, probably joined the main creek between Oakwood and Mount Royal just north of Davenport Rd. Regal road was cut to meet the grade of the valley about 1910 using horse & wagons. Garrison Creek cut through the glacial drift along the shore of the glacial Lake Iroquois, creating the opening between Oakwood Ave. and Winona Drive.
Garrison Creek entered Lake Iroquois at Davenport Road between Mount Royal and Okayed, probably in a small bay or inlet., when Lake Iroquois emptied about 10,000 years ago, flowed out across the old beach and down along Somerset Ave. This is about 30 m below our starting point beside Humewood House.
Continue on through The Christie Reach