Skip to main content

Russell Vaughan has his ear to a storm drain and a smile on his face.

"You hear that?" he says to the people around him, who strain their ears to listen over the roar of water rushing below. "That's your lost river."

Mr. Vaughan is one of about 20 people who lead tours of Toronto's forgotten rivers, the not-so-quiet ghosts that come out to haunt the city after heavy rains. Otherwise known as the Don River watershed, the flow starts at the Oak Ridges Moraine and spans 360 square kilometres, ending 38 kilometres south in Lake Ontario.

Story continues below advertisement

The Lost Rivers Walks were created by the North Toronto Green Community and the Toronto Field Naturalists about five years ago. The next one is a five-hour day hike along a long-buried downtown stream, Taddle Creek, which has been regenerated in parts. The July 16 tour starts at Wychwood Ave. and St. Clair Ave. West, at 11 a.m.

Now filled in with garbage, paved over with asphalt and directed into sewers, this and other lost rivers can mostly be traced by the many dips and ridges around Toronto.

Most Torontonians only notice the buried rivers during times of heavy rain. Flooded basements, washed-out streets and foundation damage are all good reasons to start paying attention to the watershed when we develop land, Mr. Vaughan said.

"We have to find the paths of these rivers, to understand changes in the hills and valleys in which we build our homes," he said during a recent walk through Riverdale.

Alarmed at the water seeping into clay foundation sites near her home at Greenwood Avenue and Dundas Street East, English teacher Robin Osemlak joined the Riverdale walk to learn more.

"If you go up a little from [my]area, it's an old landfill there and it seems that you'd be getting 100 years of landfill seepage coming through," she said, as she strolled through a sunny glade. "God knows what's in the water."

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

If your comment doesn't appear immediately it has been sent to a member of our moderation team for review

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.