Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

2008/08/03 Davenport Road west of Bathurst Street: Hillcrest, Wychwood

Wychwood Park is a semi-famous enclave in midtown Toronto. Somehow, in all my years in the Toronto area, I’ve never been there. Maybe it’s because it’s up a hilly section of town, so I’ve avoided it on my bicycle. On a bright summer day, I decided to make this a destination, just to see what was there. I rode west on Davenport Road — bypassing a further climb up to Casa Loma — until I reached Bathurst Street.

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Near the northwest corner is plaque that begins: “… 12,00 years ago, meltwater from retreating glaciers formed Lake Iroquois …. The ancient shore remains as an escarpment overlooking the plain on which Toronto is built.”

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In an early private-public partnership, Davenport Road was constructed with tollbooths. The Tollkeeper’s Cottage dates back to 1835.

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Across Davenport Road, on the south side, is the TTC Hillcrest Complex.

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The Hillcrest yards are where streetcars are maintained.

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The TTC office facade abuts Davenport Road. The neighbourhood doesn’t seem to get a lot of pedestrian traffic on the south side.

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A little farther west, on the north side of Davenport Road, is a closed gate. Bicycles and pedestrians are welcomed, but cars are instructed to drive around to the north entrance.

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I walked my bike northward through the pedestrian gate.

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Up the incline, I discovered Wychwood Pond. The water didn’t seem to be moving, and the surface wasn’t clear.

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By the fence, there’s a sign warning of the dangers of deep water and quicksand.

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West and north around the crescent is a plaque that reads: “Wychwood Park was named after Wychwood Forest in Oxfordshire, England, by Marmaduke Matthews, a landscape painter. He built the first house in the park in 1874 hoping to establish an artists’ colony.”

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Touring around the neighbourhood, the houses are enveloped in trees.

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A more modern style was nestled in the terrain.

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Each house has a distinct style and different features.

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With narrow winding streets between the houses, the foliage provides privacy.

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Wychwood Crescent doesn’t seem quite like a complete loop, with the road petering out in the northeast.

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Within the neighbourhood, I noticed a patch of lawn where dogs were allowed to run free.

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Curves add to the relaxed feel in the neighbourhood.

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Smaller cottages would be sufficient for empty nesters.

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Wending my way northwest, Wychwood Park joins Wychwood Avenue. Turning around and looking south, the gate is open but marked as private for residents.

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Looking north, Wychwood Avenue opens up as a street of more modern width.

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In summer 2008, the Wychwood Car Barns were being converted from its prior use by the TTC..

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The area is a new park for Toronto, and has been the subject of active consultation.

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In an updating of the original vision for the Wychwood area, the Artscape is bringing back an artists’ community.

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I biked west across Benson Avenue, to see hoardings still up on Christie Avenue side.

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Southbound on Christie Avenue is a bicycle lane, making the downhill ride easy.

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When I returned to Toronto in the mid-1980s, I was reminded of how many trees are in the city. When the foliage is dense, we’re reminded how fortunate we are to have urban forestry.

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