Toronto Parks in Winter – A Winter Wonderland

Toronto Parks
Bridge at Edwards Gardens in Winter (photo by Bruce Christie 2017)

Winters in Toronto have been quite mild the last few seasons which has been kind to wildlife, may they be birds, foxes, coyotes, or even people. While some detest the season, Toronto parks in winter are beautiful places to get away from the city – while being in the city.

Toronto Parks
Female Cardinal at Wilket Creek Park (photo by Bruce Christie 2017)

Birds That Inhabit Toronto Parks In Winter

There are a variety of birds that one can find in Toronto Parks – anything from Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, Chickadees, Hawks and other species. Many are fed by humans who make daily trips and set-up feeders with seeds and nuts. Some birds will even fly on your hand to pick up a treat and warm their feet.

Toronto Parks
Chickadee In Hand (photo by Bruce Christie 2017)

Feeding birds is discouraged but I do anyway. The only ones that seem to jump on my hands are the Chickadees and Brown Breasted Nut Hatches. The Cardinals get close but never are as tame.

Toronto Parks
Nuthatch In Hand (photo by Bruce Christie 2017)

I get a warm feeling when these little birds fly on my hand. The Nuthatches seem to be the most tame and have flown on my shoulder a few times. I am quite used to that as I have a parrot at home (perhaps they know that).

Toronto Parks in Winter
Blue Jay (photo by Bruce Christie 2017)

Toronto’s Greenbelts

Toronto has many miles of greenbelts and is one of the greenest cities in the world. One does not have to travel for hours, to the country, to enjoy some peace and quiet. Why stay at home and argue with strangers on Social Media?

Toronto Parks
Male Cardinal Snatching a Peanut (photo by Bruce Christie 2017)

Make sure you visit a park in Toronto and don’t forget to bring some seeds and peanuts for the birds!

Toronto Paks in winter
Chickadee In Flight (photo by Bruce Christie 2017)
Toronto parks
Starling (photo by Bruce Christie 2017)

Toronto Greenbelts In Autumn

Toronto Greenbelts
Great Blue Heron In East Don River (photo by Bruce Christie 2016)

One of the best things about living in Toronto are relatively large areas, within the city, that are resemble landscape in rural areas. Toronto Greenbelts are vast and remain undeveloped due to lowlands that are prone to flooding. Autumn, in Toronto, is probably my favourite time of year as vast areas of Maple and Oak Trees change colour in various shades of red, orange and yellow.

Toronto Botanical Gardens
Toronto Botanical Gardens In Autumn (photo by bruce Christie 2016)

Some of the best days, to visit Toronto Greenbelts, are during rainy days when selfie-stick wielding imbeciles are absent. The parks are empty and there is virtually no one around to get in the way. This week I left for work a few hours early to get some shots in of Toronto’s autumn foliage and it worked out quite well.

ET Seton Park
ET Seton Park (photo by Bruce Christie 2016)

Some of the best parks to visit are in the Don Valley corridor. I often start at Edwards Gardens and then make my way south as a number of parks are interconnected. As you make your way southbound from Edwards Gardens, you will come across Wilket Creek, ET Seton Park and Sunnybrook Park (to name a few).

ET Seton Park
ET Seton Park (photo by Bruce Christie 2016)

Another amazing park is Charles Sauriol Conservation Trail in the Don Valley Parkway and Lawrence area. While it is situated right next to a major Toronto highway, you would think that you are in the wilderness. This is where I captured images of a female Great Blue Heron who has been residing there for the past several years.

West Don River
West Don River (photo by Bruce Christie 2016)

Toronto Greenbelts offer a “wilderness getaway” within our own city. Make sure you take some time off, during your lunch hour, to enjoy the autumn colours and unwind!

Edwards Gardens

Edwards Gardens Bridge
Edwards Gardens Autumn 2015 (photo by Bruce Christie)

The first settlers inhabited the area shortly after the war of 1812. In 1817, Alexander Milne arrived from Scotland with his family, established a mill, which operated for more than a century. The creek that passes through here was known as Milne Creek for many years.

Edwards Gardens Bridge
Edwards Gardens Bridge 2016 (photo by Bruce Christie)

In 1944, the land was purchased by Rupert E. Edwards, founder of Canada Varnish Ltd. For more than a decade, he developed the landscape with many gardens and a 9-hole golf course (which is no longer there today).

Edwards Gardens in Spring
Edwards Gardens in Spring 2016 (photo by Bruce Christie)

In 1955, the City of Toronto acquired the land, from Mr. Edwards, where it has been preserved as a botanical gardens and leisure area. It is connected to the greenbelt – including other parks such as Wilket Creek and Sunnybrook Park, to name a few.

Edwards Gardens Flowers
Edwards Gardens Flowers Summer 2016 (photo by Bruce Christie)

The park is situated at the intersections of Lawrence and Leslie streets and there is ample parking. There are facilities to accommodate weddings and other affairs – or you can just take a stroll with your loved ones. The park has an abundance of flora and nature trails.

Edwards Gardens
Edwards Gardens Summer 2016 (photo by Bruce Christie)

Apart from the banquet facilities, there is a cafe where you can purchase snacks and sandwiches. Weekends get busy with the usual mishmash of annoying people who walk in a row and get in your way. I suggest you visit on a weekday, as it is far less cluttered!

Edwards Gardens
Edwards Gardens Summer 2015 (photo by Bruce Christie)

Fairly close to downtown Toronto, one can enjoy a taste of nature and unwind (at least on weekdays). There is wildlife in the park and offers some solitude from the day-to-day stress a big city can have on us.

Edwards Gardens
Edwards Gardens Summer 2016 (photo by Bruce Christie)

Make sure you bring a camera!

 

Allan Gardens

Allen_Gardens
Allan Gardens (photo by Bruce Christie 2015)

Founded in 1858, Allan Gardens is situated in downtown Toronto bordering Gerrard, Sherbourne, Carleton and Jarvis Street. The pavilion was originally built in 1879 but burned down in 1902 and was rebuilt, in Victorian style, in 1910 as the Palm House. Over the years, new additions were added which include the Cool House (1924) and the Northern Tropical House in 1956. Other additions, in the 1950’s, included the Cactus House and Tropical House.

Allen Gardens building Toronto
Allan Gardens Horticultural Building Toronto (photo by Bruce Christie 2015)

It was only several years ago that I rediscovered Allan Gardens. It was a cold winter’s day and I was out and about in the streets of Toronto photographing architecture, people and all that. I now go back often as it’s an excellent place to shoot macro photography. I recommend it photographers as it’s a place we often forget. They change the themes seasonally so there is something different every few months. Lighting is always great so no flash is required.

 Allan Gardens Toronto
Allan Gardens (photos by Bruce Christie 2016)

The neighborhood is a little bit “seedy” so make sure you have some extra change and be prepared to be propositioned by the occasional prostitute. There are not too many dining establishments close by but there is a Beer Store just east of it on Gerrard. I would avoid that Beer Store though and venture to the one on River Street near Queen as there are far fewer fights that break out there. And the empty returns are processed much more quickly at the River Street location.

Allan Gardens Toronto
Allan Gardens (photos by Bruce Christie 2016)

All in all, Allan Gardens is a worthy destination point when visiting Toronto – whether you’re a tourist, photographer or one of those annoying people that use a cell phone or tablet to take pictures. Allan Gardens is located at 19 Horticultural Lane and can be contacted at 416-392-7288.