Walking tour reveals Glendon’s hidden botanical gems

Along the banks of the wooded ravine and riverbank of York’s Glendon campus, there are many exotic trees and flowers.

On Saturday, Sept. 17, rain or shine, members of the Toronto Field Naturalists (TFN) will lead a free walking tour of the campus and participants will get an opportunity to learn more about some of the rare plants and trees hidden away there.

A path in the forestRight: A portion of the Glendon forest. Photo: York’s Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability 

The tour will begin at the TTC bus stop at the southeast corner of Bayview and Lawrence avenues at 2pm on Sept. 17. It is expected to last two hours. Photographer Vlad Litvinov’s gallery of Glendon Forest pictures can be viewed here.

York alumnus and historian John Court (BA ’63) and Nancy Dengler, a Toronto botanist and professor emerita of the University of Toronto, 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 site, from the pioneer farming era and when the Wood family built their estate on the property to today.

The walk will cover 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 that is populated with beech, sugar maple, white pine and basswood.

The TFN suggest 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 website.