For many Torontonians, walking is a means to an end. We are trying to get from point A to point B without stopping to observe the beauty of the walk itself.
This spring we’ve devised a Saturday Stroll for you to take at your leisure to just enjoy the journey. This walk will take you take you around midtown, showcasing nature, historical sites and great local businesses.
The full six-kilometre hike will take you about two and a half hours without stop. It is designed for multiple entry points, can go in either direction and can also be broken down into smaller walks if the big one is too much.
There are many starting points but we’ll recommend starting at the former Dominion Cool and Wood plant on Mount Pleasant Road, just south of Davisville Avenue. Today this plant is a couple of residential towers, but for over 70 years the landmark silos stood tall. Founded by William H. Smith in 1912, the company opened on Mount Pleasant Road in 1929. Coal and wood were transported to the site by the Beltline Railway. The plant closed in 1999 and the silos were demolished in 2001.
Right next to the plaque for this site is the opening to the Mud Creek path. Down the stairs we go.
At this point many may choose to go into the famous Mount Pleasant Cemetery but we will stay on Mud Creek. Stretching along the north side of the cemetery, this paved path is a fast way to get to Yonge Street by foot or bike. This path even includes drinking fountains for the dogs.
At the end of the Mud Creek, cross the bridge over Yonge Street to link up to the Kay Gardner Beltline Path. While on the bridge, look north to the historic Davisville Subway stop and TTC headquarters. As the trains pass underneath you, sometimes the train drivers will wave back.
We will be walking along the Beltline for a while. Be careful as you cross the major streets — there is no right-of-way for walkers at the crossings. As you walk along, make sure you pay attention to the houses that back onto the Beltline — many are truly exquisite. Originally, this path was a railway that served the Toronto suburbs of Moore Park and Forest Hill. Passenger services only ran from 1892 to 1894. The freight trains continued to run until the 1960s. In 1990 the City of Toronto bought the land from CN Real Estate and converted it into a 4.5-km park. In 2000 it was named after former city councillor Kay Gardner.
Keep an eye out for the wooden staircase that will take you up to Eglinton. We’ve been walking for a while and it’s time to get a snack.
Emerging from the foliage, you will be greeted by The Eglinton Way sign. This strip of Eglinton to Avenue Road is full of unique stores, restaurants and businesses.
Grab a coffee at the Mad Bean, perhaps get some pizza at Ferraro, or treat yourself to dessert at Hotel Gelato. And check out Phipps Bakery Café, a unique place with a citywide reputation.
Now that we are rejuvenated, we will turn left and head north on Avenue Road.
Walking on the East side of the street we pass Marshal McLuhan Catholic Secondary School before we reach the Eglinton Hunt Club and RCAF Institute Aviation Medicine.
Once surrounded by fields, the Eglinton Hunt Club was founded in 1919. The site grew to include stables and an arena for indoor polo. In 1939 at the start of the Second World War, the Royal Canadian Air Force purchased the site. Research was conducted on the physiological effects of combat fighting and the world first anti-gravity flying suit was created here. It remained in the military’s possession until 1994.
Past The Hunt Club, turn right heading east on Roselawn Avenue. You will find Eglinton Park, a large park that includes baseball diamonds, sports fields and a playground.
Walk through the park on the 26 East Bike path. Turn left and reenter the North Toronto community. Head right on Edith and continue walking two blocks to Montgomery Avenue. Turn left and head east to Yonge Street.
At Yonge and Montgomery is a flagpole with a plaque commemorating the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837.
Montgomery’s Tavern was the headquarters for rebel leader William Lyon Mackenzie. Although the rebellion was squashed, it instigated the 1839 Durham Report. That report recommended the union of Upper and Lower Canada into a singular Canada with a system of responsible government — a step on the path to Confederation three decades later. Mackenzie was also the grandfather of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada’s longest-serving prime minister, who is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.
Cross the longest street in the world and Montgomery turns into Broadway Avenue.
On your right you will see the new North Toronto Collegiate Institute. Completed in 2010, the new Gold LEED building replaces the 98-year-old building that used to stand where the athletic field now is located. Late last month the school celebrated its 100th anniversary.
Walking past the school, continue down Broadway to rival school Northern Secondary at Mount Pleasant Road.
Turn right on Mount Pleasant and walk down a truly vibrant street of antique shops, kids stores, restaurants and neighbourhood movie theatres.
Once you pass Manor Road start looking for places to eat. You’ve been walking for a while and Mount Pleasant has just the thing for you.
Penrose Fish and Chips and The Longest Yard are just two of the strip’s landmarks eateries.
After a bite to eat, continue walking to Davisville Avenue, near where we began several hours ago. If this is the end of your tour, you can catch the number 11 bus to Davisville Station and head home.