Living out in the West End of Toronto, one falls into the habit of visiting local, western, parks and ravines. Easy to remember just as interesting and unique coast of the East End – Scarborough and East York. A recent weekend outing to the mouth of Rouge River put an emphasis on this very point.
Rouge river acts as a natural eastern boundary to the city. Its ravine hosts parks, Toronto’s great Zoo begins that tenuous buffer zone between suburbs and Toronto’s Green Belt. The river’s mouth is another point where landscaped, constructed and natural collide. The gentle and swampy estuary is interrupted with railroad embankment, wanter funnelled underneath a railroad bridge. Along with the railroad, waterfront trail bridge connects Scarborough and Pickering.
Open water of the lake greets the visitor to the beach. Final stretch of the river greets the temperamental waters of the lake. The beach sits in the middle, landscaped by the water’s seasonal shifts and flow changes. The sandbar tip, shaped by the whim of the two waters is one of the rare sandy ends to the rivers in our city. Most of the other ravines have fallen victims to water management and waterfront redesign. Rouge has, by the looks of it narrowly, avoided this fate. Rouge Beach Park offers a great east end option for year round recreation, from fishing to pond hockey. With Waterfront Trail passing through, the park is most certainly a must see stop on a cycling journey along Ontario’s shore.
Mid morning calm at that magic time of the year. Right before summer crowds and right after the winter’s grip, a transitional time full of light and magic. Empty park with but a few walkers, runners and fishing enthusiast, gives off an atmosphere of epic solitude. Morning skies with sun shining through a thin hazy overcast cover bathe beach in a surreal light. Debris of the season, twigs and tree trunks, empty beach and outline of the point – all memorable views, commanding attention and demanding a pause and contemplation.
Out this way, in the East End, the Sun rises from a slightly different angle, the beach and the sandbar give off a different atmosphere, Rouge has similar epic view of the early morning sky over the lake but feels different remote. Perhaps, the missing skyline, outline of the city that is omnipresent in any morning view from western parks, the vastness and power of the lake and quiet of the moment where Rouge meets the lake. On a cold March morning, I have arrived curious and left inspired, inspired to return and explore more.
Simply amazing how great and interesting Toronto’s waters are – long coast of lake Ontario changed to larger or smaller degree by centuries of human settlement and trading. Still, the nature and its guests keep changing, fighting and finding ways to coexist, all the while evolving the landscape, like a shifting sand at the point where swampy estuary meets the great lake. Great mornings of excellent motivations and inspiration to move up river and look for more from this east end treasure.