Walking tour set for Glendon’s wooded ravine and riverbank

Ever wonder what species of exotic trees and flowers are hidden in the wooded ravine and riverbank of York’s Glendon campus? This Sunday, rain or shine, get an up-close-and-personal look at some of the hidden gems when members of the Toronto Field Naturalists (TFN) lead a free walking tour of the campus.

Stick around long enough and you could also have tea with Lorna Marsden, York president emerita, in her Glendon office – one of the historic principal rooms in the Glendon Hall manor.

The tour will begin at the TTC bus stop at the southeast corner of Bayview and Lawrence avenues at 2pm on Sunday, Aug. 8. It is expected to last two hours.

Right: The ravine on the Glendon campus

York alumnus and historian John Court (BA ’63) and Nancy Dengler, a Toronto botanist, University of Toronto professor emerita and member of the TFN’s board of directors, will take participants on a tour through Glendon’s natural and human history. It will include features of the landscape that date to pre-European settlement, the pioneer farm era, the Glendon Hall Wood family estate and the early development of York’s Glendon College.  

Glendon abuts the west branch of the Don River, the spot where the site’s original owners, Edward Rogers Wood and his family, built an estate in the 1920s named Glendon Hall. The Wood property was a suburban country estate with a landmark manor house and 84 acres of gardens, parkland and nature sites.

“Glendon has an exceptional collection of trees dating back to the 1920s,” says Dengler, who confesses to visiting the campus often.

It was the Wood family who were responsible for establishing this international collection of exotic trees and flowers in the 1920s and 1930s. “Then when the property was willed to the University of Toronto for use as a botanical garden, a whole series of trees were planted in the 1950s that are kind of special for this part of the world,” says Dengler. When York took over the property, the trees were valued and preserved during the design of the campus, leaving dawn redwoods, what Dengler calls “relics from the time of the dinosaur”, for all to enjoy. Even better, she says, than those found in High Park. “The campus at Glendon is quite special.”

In addition to the attention to the trees, plants and flowers, Court will regale walk participants with the history of the place from the pioneer farming era and when the Wood family built their estate on the property to today.

The walk will coover the natural forest found on the terrace lands of the campus, ravine slope and Don River floodplain, including Lawrence’s Bush – the woodlot right inside Glendon’s entrance gate which is populated with beech, sugar maple, white pine and basswood.

The TFN suggests bringing a wide-brimmed hat, socks, hiking boots or running shoes, and long sleeves and pants to protect from mosquitoes, poison ivy, thistles and ticks. Depending on the weather forecast, rainwear or sunglasses and sunscreen may be necessary, along with some insect repellent. It’s also a good idea to bring a camera, binoculars, a Thermos or flask and a snack.

Children are welcome when accompanied by an adult, but pets are not.

For more information, visit the Toronto Field Naturalists Web site.