Toronto Feature: Highland Creek

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Highland Creek Trail
The bridge crossing Highland Creek is part of the Highland Creek Trail, circa 2012 (public domain).
West Hill
West Hill, Highland Creek, late 19th century (public domain).
Footbridge Over Highland Creek
Circa 1927 (courtesy City of Toronto Archives/Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 4986).

Toronto Feature: Highland Creek

"Highland Creek: Toronto's River?"

This text is from the free Toronto in Time app, which was created by The Canadian Encyclopedia and is available from the App Store and the Google Play store. Visit its companion website, which is linked below, to explore all the features of the app online.

David Thomson was the head stonemason for the construction of the new parliament buildings near the marshy lands of the Don in the town of York. When he needed a healthier place to reside with his wife, he chose the beautiful valley of Highland Creek in Scarborough, where he was the first settler.

David and Mary Thomson followed an Aboriginal trail (now part of Danforth Road) to Scarborough and in 1799, they petitioned for, and were granted, the plot of land that now extends between the Scarborough Museum and St Andrew's Church in Thomson Memorial Park. A walk from the museum to the church includes crossing a tributary of Highland Creek.

The Highland is an urban creek with more than 85 kilometres of watercourses draining an area of 102 km2. It would be a good candidate for the title of "Toronto's River." While the Don River and watershed are top of Torontonians' minds, 95% of Highland Creek's watershed lies within the city. By contrast, only 58% of the Don watershed lies within the city.

Only 0.5% of Highland's original wetlands remain due to the pressures of urbanization. Nevertheless, remnant forests, wetlands and meadows provide habitat for a range of wildlife. There is also a long history of Aboriginal settlement, represented by the Tabor Hill Ossuary, which was found in 1956, and similar locations.


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