Volunteer park ranger uses crowdsourcing to fund canoe project

Dennis Hanagan –

A lot of people don’t realize that when they walk through Little Norway, Trinity-Bellwoods and Bickford parks they’re walking the ancient waterway we known as Garrison Creek because it once flowed openly past Fort York.

In the late 1800s, workers began burying the creek in a huge sewer that runs from St. Clair the foot of Bathurst near the malting silos.

The large depression in Trinity-Bellwoods park where dogs run off-leash is a visible reminder of where the creek used to be.

This summer, Downtown resident Aidan Dahlin Nolan—with help from the David Suzuki Foundation—wants to mark the creek’s winding route with canoes filled with earth and native plants to draw the public’s attention to the historic landmark and the vital part water plays in our daily lives and how we should show greater appreciation and better management of it.

In Toronto’s early days the creek was the town’s third largest waterway, behind the Don and Humber rivers. Those were the days when canoeists traversed Garrison from the fort all the way up to Christie Pits.

“The canoe is there to remind people of this creek that’s beneath their feet and reconnect them to the water in this city. We don’t manage our water particularly well,” says Nolan.

The Bulletin spoke to Nolan the day after the July 8 superstorm that caused the sewage and storm sewers to flow into each other and toilet water ends up in the lake.

“I can’t imagine how much refuse was dumped into the lake (that night). And that’s our source of drinking water,” Nolan points out.

The Suzuki Foundation isn’t providing funding for Nolan’s Community Canoe Project. That help he hopes to get from “crowd sourcing” meaning donations of plants and canoes and community volunteers to do the planting and watering.

He’d like to see at least 15 canoes in Little Norway, Trinity Bellwoods, Stanley, and Bickford parks and Christie Pits where the creek ran.

For more on the work being done visit Community Canoe Project on Facebook or Twitter or www.davidsuzuki.org/homegrown.