As a writer and photographer I travel between my life in Toronto, my life in Antigua, and anywhere else my wanderings may take me ... writing my books and enjoying local arts and adventures along the way.

Don Valley Brickworks

Bike Trails Behind the Brickworks

This weekend the kids and I went bicycling on one of the numerous bike trails that run through the green spaces of Toronto, one of which passes through the Don Valley Brickworks on its way to the Toronto beaches. Toronto really is blessed with a wealth of green spaces and scenic biking or walking trails. The kids and I have been to the Brickworks on many a Saturday during the summertime to visit the lively farmer’s market where you can buy local produce, taste different foods, and where the kids can get their faces painted. You can also venture behind the brickworks to the series of ponds and man-made viewing bridges called Turtles Walk. The ponds are full of fish and there are lots of turtles which makes for fascinating viewing for the kids. If you have a young family you’ll have no trouble engaging their interest. In fact I wrote a kid’s book called “Eric and Anisa Save the Don” that was inspired by our weekends there. The book will be published shortly.

The Don Valley Brickworks hosts many activies during the summer. The Saturday morning farmers market is a real treat in the heart of the city.

The Don Valley Brickworks hosts many activies during the summer. The Saturday morning farmers market is a real treat in the heart of the city.

Away with Training Wheels

Normally we just walk along the trails because the trails are ┬áin some places not smooth enough for the training wheels that used to be on my daughter’s bike. Now that she rides without training wheels I promised her that we would go riding on the trails. This Saturday that’s exactly what we did. As we passed the Brickworks on the way to the trails I met a young man watering the plants.

I met Morgan Zigler tending to the plants at the Brickworks.

I met Morgan Zigler tending to the plants at the Brickworks.

His name was Morgan Zigler of the not for profit organization Evergreen that runs the brickworks. We got to discussing how knowledge of native plants and herbs is disappearing. I told him how my grandmother in Antigua would have her fever bush and other bush teas and herbal remedies, and that whether or not the remedies worked I often missed those teas simply because they were so delicious. Those times are largely gone however because my generation, being without the knowledge to distinguish any potentially useful plant from weeds, would simply run the lawnmower over the lot of them. The natural consequence is that we see less reason to take the time to do things that are good for the environment because we are deeply disconnected from any need to be sustained by the local environment around us.

Morgan’s Urban Tribe

Morgan confessed that he belonged to what he called a “tribe” of like-minded people who harvest wild urban edibles such as mulberries from which he makes mulberry jam. At his urging I tasted one of the tomatoes that he was watering. It was a small yellow variety and it had a cool, fresh taste. My son looked on with fascination. As I bit into it the juice flew past his head. Morgan, myself, and my son laughed simultaneously.

Morgan tells me that phase 1 of the Brickworks project is coming next May with a huge children’s garden and a climbing wall.

Mount Up

After saying hi to Morgan we mounted up to head to the trails.

Behind the Brickworks is are a series of biking and hiking trails that criss-cross the entire city and extend for many kilometers.

Behind the Brickworks is are a series of biking and hiking trails that criss-cross the entire city and extend for many kilometers.

Turtle walk is a series of man made bridges over the ponds to the rear of the brickworks.

A number of what I believed were Eastern Painted Turtles could also be observed there.

A number of what I believed were Eastern Painted Turtles could also be observed there.

One of the turtles we saw was a massive snapping turtle. Its shell alone was nearly a metre long. It's head was a massive as that of a pit bull.

One of the turtles we saw was a massive snapping turtle. Its shell alone was nearly a metre long. It's head was a massive as that of a pit bull.

We stopped to try and spot some fish and other creatures in the pond. We were excited when we spotted two species of turtles, one of which was an absolutely massive snapping turtle. We could also hear frogs, but they remained invisible.

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One comment on “Don Valley Brickworks

  1. Warren K. on said:

    Nice. I made a visit to the Brickworks in the late summer but managed to get inside for some pretty cool photos. It was on a weekend when there we no workers around to chase me out, haha.

    I didn't know there were turtles in the waters there. Interesting.

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