Uncovering the Creek

Uncovering the Creek is a study of the city’s changing landscape through a close examination of Trinity-Bellwoods Park and the Crawford Street bridges. This project is a virtual excavation of a hidden Toronto landmark that has been almost erased by the process of city building.

This project was produced by Alex Meyers in 2014 for Digital History HI 9808 at Western University. Alex is a graduate student in the Public History program.

Early Settlement along Garrison Creek

The early estates were owned by active or retired army officers, and senior civil servants.

The City Expands

In 1851, Sanford Fleming (future father of standard time) was a 24-year-old surveyor when he and fellow-surveyor John Soughton Dennis produced this remarkable map of Toronto

Cycles of Boom and Bust

The Toronto real estate market experienced a dramatic boom and bust cycle throughout the 19th century. Land speculators bought and subdivided large parcels of land that often went unoccupied for years.

Tax Exempt Land

This map was created to show tax exempt land in the city of Toronto. One particularly disputed category of exempt land was "lawns and gardens".

The Toronto Purchase

Agents of the British Crown negotiated with leaders of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation for the purchase of approximately 250,000 acres of land on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

Bridging the City

Toronto is growing rapidly and land surrounding Garrison Creek is subdivided for new residential areas. The city builds a bridge to connect Crawford Street on both sides of the ravine.

Little Britain

Simcoe's dream was to transplant the rigid British class structure into the backwoods of Upper Canada as a bulwark against American-style democracy.

Early maps of Lake Ontario

Many early maps of Canada and the Great Lakes region, like the example here, were created by Jesuit missionaries.

A New Bridge

Workers build a new bridge designed by Roland Caldwell (R.C.) Harris, Toronto's Commisioner of Public Works.

Bridge Suffers Winter Damage

By 1919, the Crawford Street Bridge is already showing signs of wear. The road bed began to buckle and crack.

Recreation in the Park

The ravine has been used as a recreational space by local residents for more than a century. The slopes of the ravine continue to be a popular spot for tobogganing.

R.C. Harris

Roland Caldwell Harris was Toronto remains Toronto longest serving Commissioner of Public Works, a position he held from 1912 until his death in 1945.

The Founding of York

Lieutenant Governor Sir John Graves Simcoe established York and built a Fort York to guard the town.

Burying the Creek

By the 1880's Garrison Creek had become a noxious open sewer, polluted by effluent from nearby homes and industries.

Crawford Street in the 21st century

Today there is very little indication that that was ever a bridge or ravine at Crawford St.

The City Fills In

This aerial photograph shows Bellwoods Park as it existed in 1947. The bridges on Dundas and Shaw street have been filled in creating a crescent-shaped slop west of the bridge.

Subway Construction

Earth and debris from tunneling for the Bloor-Danforth subway line was dumped into the Garrison Creek ravine, burying the Crawford St. Bridge.

Further Repairs

By 2004, the earth around the buried structure of the Crawford St. bridge had settled, creating large hollow space beneath the road surface.

Fort Rouille, aka Fort Toronto

In 1750, the French built a small fort on the shores of Lake Ontario at what are now the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition.

Etienne Brule at the Mouth of the Humber

French explorer Etienne Brule may have been the first European to see Lake Ontario when he accompanied a party of Huron down the Humber River.

Trinity College

Trinity College, was established by Bishop John Strachan as an Anglican university.

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