Location: North York, Ontario, Canada
Address: 70 Canuck Ave.
Date: Feb 2022
Downsview Park has always been involved in aviation. There is still an active airport on the grounds. In 1929 de Havilland of Canada manufactured planes that were used in World War II. After that the Royal Canadian Air Force used the grounds. The area has been used for large events such as Pope John Paul II visiting in the 80s or The Rolling Stones coming to Toronto after SARS. The latest chapter has the area being used for mostly sports and recreation, but you are constantly reminded of the park's history. Let's take a look at some of the things that Downsview has to offer.
As you curve around the Downsview grounds on Sheppard Avenue West you will pass Denison Armoury where some former Canadian Armed Forces equipment is on display such as the fighter jet above.
The old airplane hangars have now been repurposed as a sports recreation facility.
There is even a rock climbing facility of which we were briefly members. Remember to double check all your gear and put your trust in your partner before you start to climb.
Centennial College has a campus on site in the former de Havilland of Canada building. Here students can learn to be aviation technicians or aerospace engineers.
Next to the college campus was a yard with some planes which we assume were for the students to practice their skills on.
As you head further west on Carl Hall Road you will come to a long building which houses a merchant and farmer's market. A great spot to pick up some fruits and vegetables, buy and sell some old household items and more.
The side of the building with the merchant's market also now has a large mural painted on it. Behind that wall is a film studio.
Back along Carl Hall Road is a mural dedicated to Ulysses "Crazy Legs" Curtis. Ulysses was the first full time black player on the Toronto Argonauts football team. After his retirement he was a teacher and worked closely with the youth of the Downsview area.
The next part of the park is our favourite. It is the urban park portion which many wild creatures call home.
Some wind socks show you which way the winds are blowing today. This area gets some strong winds as much of it is open and flat. All the better to land a plane.
A plane had landed nearby in the children's playground. The playground was airport themed so children get a chance to play pilot or air traffic controller.
The North Plaza is the start of the Sesquicentennial Trail. It depicts the story of the Mississaugas and early settlers. It was unveiled as part of Canada's celebration of 150 years since confederation.
In the wooded areas there are several bird houses set up. Downsview is home to many small types of birds.
There are often dark-eyed juncos which are a type of sparrow.
There are also many other types of sparrow such as this white-throated sparrow above.
Bright red cardinals stand out against the snow.
Some signage lets you know to return in the summer when you might see other birds such as meadowlarks, bobolinks and more.
Not to be outdone, there are many small mammals also in the park. As with most of Toronto there are many squirrels. This little squirrel above was part of a squirrel nursery that had taken over a tree.
You should be able to spot a beaver while in the park. Real beavers are found within Toronto and therefore not an impossibility, but still very unlikely in this park. This beaver is a DHC-2 Beaver which is an early bush plane developed at Downsview in 1947.
If you look carefully you may spot a real rabbit hiding in the bushes. As darkness falls, these rabbits need to watch out for coyotes in the park.
Raccoons can be found in the park and they don't bother to hide from anything. They are content to sleep the day away wrapped around a tree.
Where there are small birds and creatures there will also be larger birds of prey. Red-tailed hawks can be found in the park year round.
Downsview Park is a great place to explore our connection to the skies from the safety of the ground. Whether it is from the top of The Mound or above the rim at Hoop Dome. We can dream of flying, like the many planes that were made here or like the birds that call the park home.
Downsview Park , The Mound
Toronto Wildlife Centre , Centennial College - Downsview Campus , Denison Armoury
Merchants Market Mural , Crazy Legs Curtis Mural , Downsview Park (North Plaza) , Downsview Park (Planes)
True North Climbing , The Hangar , Downsview Park Merchants Market & Farmers Market