Toronto is growing. It’s growing a little bit day by day as skyscraper foundations are dug and old buildings are demolished. As all of these things happen, the remains are being loaded in to trucks and driven to the east end of the city and then south toward the lake a road called Leslie Street.
The Leslie Spit is a project that began in the 1950’s when the harbour commission thought that freighter traffic was going to grow and a breakwater was needed. And so, since then, construction waste (bricks, concrete, dirt) has been hauled down there and added to the edge of existing land and grown the city inch by inch.
Beginning in the 70’s, more and more of the land was declared park land. It’s still an active landfill so during the day on weekdays the space is closed, but on weekends and evenings it is an excellent place to run and cycle. It’s also, thanks to its position on migration routes, one of the best places for birdwatching with more species seen there than in Algonquin National Park – a huge park in rural Ontario.
Being there feels like an escape. There are miles of trails and even the main road used by trucks during the weekdays is empty and prohibited to everything but the occasional park maintenance vehicle. So while you may be a mere 7-10 km from the busiest part of the city (less as the crow flies), it feels like a rural oasis.
If you look in the top, right-hand corner of the photo above you can see the spit – just a bit closer to us are the Toronto Islands, another car-free oasis (but also home to the Toronto Island Airport which you can see on the left hand side of the island. Just to the left of that is the downtown area.
If you look away from the city, toward the southeast, you can fool yourself in to thinking you’re 500 kilometres away in Northern Ontario. It’s that beautiful illusion that inspired me a few winters ago to ride my bike out there and cook myself breakfast.
But if you turn around, the CN tower is always there to remind you of where you are, or to help you find your way home if you get lost.
Inspired by this week’s Photo a Week Challenge on the subject of “water” over at Nancy Merrill Photography.