An American Robin (I think!) in Tommy Thompson Park, Toronto.

Trust me to go to a nature park and not take a telephoto lens, hence the heavy crop. Still, I was on my bike, but don’t worry, I didn’t go down that pedestrian-only trail!

I do intend to return to this park at some point, but armed with a bigger lens and some insect repellent (or long trousers) 😀

Tommy Thompson Park is a fascinating and unique place, so I feel it warrants some paraphrased history:

Described as “Toronto’s urban wilderness”, Tommy Thompson Park is a 250-hectare nature reserve situated on an entirely manmade peninsula that juts out 5km from the Toronto portlands into Lake Ontario.

An aerial view of the peninsula (photo from the Tommy Thompson Park website)

The peninsula began life in 1959 as a landfill known as the Leslie Street Spit, which was used by the port for the dumping of concrete, earth and sand dredged from the harbour area. Over the years, the landmass increased forming a variety of lagoons, wetlands and sand peninsulas, gradually evolving into an “accidental wilderness” that’s now home to more than 300 species of bird.

In the 1970s, the landmass was formally recognised as an aquatic park and responsibility of the area was handed to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). The TRCA has since been working on a long-term “masterplan” that “aims to create, enhance, restore and protect the natural features of the manmade landscape while providing recreational opportunities for all.”

Even now, the TRCA is still adding to and improving the nature park, including the construction of a visitor’s pavilion at the entrance, which began earlier this month.

If you’re wondering who this Tommy Thompson chappy is, well he was Toronto’s first Commissioner of Parks (1955-1981) and famous for his “Please Walk on the Grass” signs. The park was named in honour of him in 1983.

Anyway, the park is a great place for cycling, hiking, wildlife viewing, fishing and even some cross-country skiing during the winter months. You also get great views of the Toronto skyline and Lake Ontario.

Dog walking, camping and swimming are strictly prohibited, though I’ve seen the remains of numerous camp fires and a fair few people in the water!

6 Replies to “Tommy Thompson Park”

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