The lake

26 02 2011

Apologies – this won’t be a clever post. I’ve come down with a cold, and my head feels like somebody poured glue into it.

Yesterday’s post reminded me that, though I grew up in Toronto, I didn’t really spend much time by Lake Ontario when I was young. A generation ago, the lake was in much worse shape than it is today, as there was a lot more industry than there is now. (The lake was in worse shape, but the economy was in better shape.)

If you travelled down the Don Valley Parkway back when I was a kid, the industrial smell would hit you down by about Pottery Road, as the Domtar pulp and paper plant used to be there, along with a chemical factory. By the time you reached the intersection of the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway, the smell was indescribably awful. Rolling up the windows was strongly recommended.

The only other thing I remember about the lake from that time was taking the ferry boat to Centre Island. If you looked over the edge of the boat, you would invariably see a number of dead fish, killed off by the pollution in the water. Is it any wonder that many Torontonians tended to try to forget that a lake existed at all?

Now, the Don River is home to a bike path, and nature is slowly coming back to life. Large chunks of the Gardiner are gone, and more parkland and housing is being built.  The only major dockland industry remaining is the old Redpath Sugar plant at the foot of Jarvis Street (which was taken over by Tate & Lyle for a while, and now appears to be nameless). But sugar doesn’t smell too bad, so it’s all good. The lake looks clean; you don’t see dead fish any more. I try to hang out by the waterfront whenever I can now.

I think I mentioned that this wasn’t going to be a clever post.

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