Parkdale Walk

Scroll down to view stops along the tour path





We would like to acknowledge this sacred land on which we stand. It has been the site of human activity for thousands of years. This land is the territory of the Huron-Wendat and Petun First Nations, the Haudenosaunee and most recently, the Anishinaabe peoples. Toronto is in the ‘Dish with One Spoon Territory’. The Dish with One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share the territory and protect the land. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and peoples, Europeans and all newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect.

Parkdale Mash-up: Gardens, Street Art, Ecosystems and 11,000 Years of History

An approximately 1.9 km walk on a mostly paved route starting from West Lodge Avenue north of Queen Street West and ending at Cowan Avenue and Queen Street. Estimated time of walk: 1 hour 50 minutes.

This walk was developed by Rivers Rising Ambassadors Reno King and Sarena Johnson, Helen Mills of Lost Rivers, with help from members of Greenest City and Nolan Scharper.


Parkdale is a village-sized neighbourhood of high rises, old Victorian homes, and busy streets. In the past fifty years it has been a landing pad for people from the Caribbean, Vietnam, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, China and Hungary, South Asia and Tibet - the world in a neighbourhood. According to Susan Blight, Parkdale had a high Indigenous population in the 1960’s and 1970’s. As well in the 1980’s, thousands of former patients were “de-institutionalized” from nearby CAMH and moved into the neighbourhood with few community support systems. The Parkdale community is currently in the throes of rapid gentrification . As people from other parts of the city are moving into this now “trendy” neighborhood, lower income community members are fighting to stay and preserve their community.

On this walk you will connect with community gardens, pocket gardens and street art projects that bring people together in Parkdale. Along the way, you will learn about lost ponds, lost rivers and historic ecosystems. You will connect 11,000 years of Indigenous history and discover the murals and street art of Indigenous artists now. And you will find out a bit about the amazing people and projects that are transforming urban food systems and ecosystems in Parkdale.

Parkdale Ecosystems

Parkdale is on a high point of land that divides the High Park Lost Rivers from the Toronto Bay Lost Rivers. The headwaters of Denison Creek and the Asylum Creeks extended into east Parkdale and Brockton; in west Parkdale tiny rivulets cut through steep clay banks into Lake Ontario, with four larger creeklets and a steep drop near Roncesvalles and King. In south Parkdale there was a heavy clay soil with a mixed deciduous forest known for the presence of many ponds and springs. To the north there are sandy soils that supported an oak savannah similar to that found in High Park today. These ecosystems were stable for about 8,000 years. The Savannah was maintained by Indigenous peoples through the use of fire. The the area was traversed by a network of trading routes that connected Mexico with areas north of Lake Superior.

About the map

This web map has been developed as a pilot project for Geohistory/Géohistoire, the Canadian Historical GIS Partnership Development Project behalf of the Lost Rivers of Toronto Project

The historical map overlay used here for reference is the 1882 McMurrich “Plan of the City of Toronto”. This map is neither as precise topographically as the later Department of Military and Defence series, nor as detailed as Goad’s “Atlas of the City of Toronto” series, nor as old as Tremaine’s “Map of the County of York, Canada West” (1860) or the Miles & Company “Illustrated Historical Atlas of the County of York” (1878). McMurrich’s map is a compromise between these poles.