Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Walk in Nordheimer Ravine Reveals, Among Other Things, a Giant Spider Web

A few days ago, after being holed up in the apartment all day, my Exploring Partner and I decided to check out Nordheimer Ravine, which lies just just south of St. Clair between Avenue Road and Bathurst Street. I have now lived in Toronto for nearly six months and what is great is that I'm still discovering things about this city--things that lie just beyond the boundaries of my apartment within a short walking distance.

Nordheimer Ravine is one of those places where, if I may indulge in a cliche, the city just disappears around you. We entered the ravine off Bolton Drive and immediately were swallowed up by the fiery Autumn colours. For those that lament Toronto flatness, the ravine is a welcome change in topography. It is also the site of one of Toronto's numerous "lost rivers". Castlefrank Brook lies buried beneath.

The path we chose let us out at Sir Winston Churchill Park, which actually sits on top of one of Toronto's water reservoirs. The park seems to be the kind of place that is good for two activities: 1) allowing your dog to romp around with other dogs in the fenced-in off leash area, and 2) running around in circles on its top perimeter. Maybe it's the inevitable onset of winter, or the fact that I haven't lived in a place that gets enough snow to actually do this, but I find myself constantly on the look-out for good places to go sledding once the white stuff drops. The sides of Sir Winston Churchill Park, which slope drastically down into Nordheimer Ravine, look to be the perfect spot to pick up some good speed and not worry about slamming into anything hard at the bottom.

There are a few architecturally grand buildings around, which were done in 1930. I particularly liked the one on the south side. If this had been built today it would be a functional, yet non de-script box, but back then they did things with a bit more flair.

We followed Nordheimer Ravine, where we came upon what appeared to be a subway entrance, but turned out to be an emergency exit. This exit was put to good use in 1995 when a train rear-ended another in the tunnel, trapping people for hours as the temperature rose to over 40 degrees (you can read more here).

Further on, there is another piece of subway infrastructure, this time in the form of a worker entrance/exit. A few bags of garbage labelled TTC were piled at the front and some graffiti was sprayed across its concrete surface. It's unclear whether they are reclaiming this particular area, of if it's a general message to be applied across the city. The shape is kind of interesting, almost like it is welcoming you in with its concrete flippers.

We also, surprise surprise, ran into some yarn-bombing--one of my new favourite forms of street art. This time no nails were put through the tree to hold the yarn (although it appears to be just a dead log). We didn't stick around to find out if there was a similarly sized yarn spider around.

Then the ravine ends, and we were spat back out into Toronto at the site of the St. Clair West subway station. In a city where a lot of natural topographical elements were either shaved off or filled in, it's nice to come across a place like Nordheimer Ravine.