Our adventure in the first weeks of April took us East and then North of Toronto, firstly to the Scarborough Bluffs then up to Uxbridge and Goodwood.
Whilst Spring, the temperature was not particularly Spring-like, and we were all rugged up in our biggest coats, hats and scarves. Needless to say, I was missing my lost mitten (will need to replace that before next Winter!) and my hands were freezing cold!
The Scarborough Bluffs (a.k.a. The Bluffs) are located in Scarborough, in the East end of Toronto. The escarpment has nine parks along it, with some providing beach access. We tried to find our way around the parks but had a little bit of difficulty. Firstly, because there had been large amounts of rain making the tracks muddy, and secondly because it was so windy and cold, making it difficult to stay standing straight! The Bluffs rise above the shoreline of Lake Ontario and at their highest point sit 90 metres above the coastline.
A little bit of history on The Bluffs from Wikipedia:
The French gave the name “Les grands Ecores”, or tall points on the shore, to the cliffs. In the 1788 Plan of Toronto by Alexander Aitken, the bluffs were simply known as the High Lands. They became known as the Scarborough Highlands in 1793 named after Scarborough, North Yorkshire. This name was chosen by Elizabeth Simcoe, who was the wife of the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe. The escarpment along Lake Ontario reminded Elizabeth Simcoe of the limestone cliffs in her hometown. In her diary, she wrote, “The shore is extremely bold, and has the appearance of chalk cliffs, but I believe they are only white sand. They appeared so well that we talked of building a summer residence there and calling it Scarborough.” The name was later given to the entire township in 1796. In time, the cliffs became known as the Bluffs. A stylized version of The Bluffs was incorporated into the design of the former City of Scarborough flag.
The Scarborough Bluffs formerly extended further west along the coastline of Lake Ontario towards the Toronto Harbour, but extensive areas along the western fringe were leveled by the use of explosives for the implementation of primarily industrial and some residential urban development. Even the existing formation has and continues to shrink considerably decade after decade due to consistent and dramatic erosion.
The Bluffs have become a community meeting place for people of all ages. It features various recreational hiking and walking trails, as well as picnic tables, fire pits, places to pitch a tent, parking lots, a ‘Bluffers Restaurant’, and a large marina with a boating club.
Our drive North took us first to Tin Mill Restaurant and Bar in Uxbridge. The restaurant is centrally located downtown in a renovated turn-of-the-century flour mill. On offer is a warm welcome, creative culinary treats and home-baked desserts…. we sampled many of their delicacies and have got to say, the food was incredible!
A few points regarding Uxbridge:
- Named after Uxbridge, England;
- The name ‘Uxbridge’ was originally derived from “Wixan’s bridge” – Wixan were a 7th century Saxon tribe from Lincolnshire who began to settle in what became Middlex;
- The ‘Quakers’ (a Christian group) were the first to arrive in Uxbridge, Ontario in 1806 – they arrived from Catawissa, an area in Pennsylvania;
- The first passenger-carrying narrow-gauge railway in North America, the Toronto and Nipissing Railway arrived in Uxbridge in June 1871, and for over a decade Uxbridge was the headquarters of the railway;
- In 1872, the Village of Uxbridge was separated from the Township and incorporated as a separate entity;
- Following the creation of the Regional Municipality of Durham in 1974, Uxbridge Township was amalgamated with the Town of Uxbridge and Scott Township to create an expanded Township of Uxbridge.
After a hearty meal (including some of the homemade delicacies that were referenced above), we felt the need to stretch our legs and burn off a little bit of what we ate. Some of the group had done their research, so we ended up in a magnificent forest in Goodwood, called Glen Major Forest.
It was amazing walking through the forest. There was snow on the ground, but you could see below that a layer of ice. This meant that the ‘thaw’ had started, but that it had then got cold again, the snow that had turned to water froze, then the new snow fell on top of that.
About the forest:
- The Glen Major Forest and Walker Woods property complex is more than 1,500 hectares (3,705 acres) of land located on the Oak Ridges Moraine in the headwaters of the Duffins Creek watershed.;
- It includes the Glen Major Resource Tract, the Wilder Woods Tract, and the Aggregate Trail (former Timbers Brothers Gravel Pit);
- The boundaries stretch from Brock Road and Lakeridge Road in the east and west, to Goodwood Road and Regional Road #5 in the north and south. ;
- The site contains 47-km of trails and is open to hikers, cross-country skiers, horseback riders and cyclists;
- Located within the southern portion of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence floristic region, which is comprised of mixed coniferous-deciduous forests. ;
- The property complex is surrounded by agricultural land, aggregate pits and rural residential estates;
- The site provides the largest contiguous land holding of Toronto and Region Conservation and is characterized by its large forest complexes and rolling topography, typical of the Oak Ridges Moraine.