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Humber Valley Pond, also known as Crang’s Pond, behind the Rivermede Estate at Weston Road and Sheppard Avenue West
Humber Valley Pond, also known as Crang’s Pond, behind the Rivermede Estate at Weston Road and Sheppard Avenue West (photo: Glenn Bonnetta)

NYHS Tours North York Natural Heritage Sites with Edith George

On October 14, 2020, a glorious fall morning, NYHS President Glenn Bonnetta and Director Sheryl Adelkind received a socially-distanced tour of several North York sites with Edith George, a very knowledgeable and passionate advocate for her Humbermede neighbourhood.

Edith’s neighbourhood includes the Rivermede Estate at Weston Road and Sheppard Avenue West, a very impressive Tudor mansion built in 1932 as a summer home for Mr. and Mrs. Percy Gardiner, who lived in the Annex. Mr. Jocelyn Davidson was the architect who designed both these houses.

Edith explained the history of the Gardiners’ summer home, which is owned by the Order of Saint Basil the Great, but has been vacant for four years. Sheryl observed that she thought of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s era with beautifully dressed men and women driving up to the house.

Glenn and Sheryl were taken to the back of the house which has a gorgeous terraced garden, known especially for its roses. Also behind the house is the Marian Shrine of Gratitude, erected in 2005.

From there, the group went to part of the Carrying Place Trail and Humber Valley Pond, also known as Crang’s Pond, behind the house where they saw a blue heron standing in the water and some ducklings floating. Edith explained the particular ecosystem.

NYHS Director Sheryl Adelkind and the magnificent red oak tree
NYHS Director Sheryl Adelkind and the magnificent red oak tree (photo: Glenn Bonnetta)

Edith then took them to the 250-year-old red oak tree at 76 Coral Gable Dr. which was part of the oak savannah, and which she has been trying desperately to save. According to Mark and Ben Cullen’s November 10, 2020, Toronto Star article Readers Reach out to Save Toronto’s Oldest Tree, $430,000 is needed by December 12 to save the tree. The City of Toronto’s website says 60% of that target has been raised.

Their next destination overlooked the Humber River and Emery Creek but also part of the Historic Toronto Carrying Place Trail where a Mr. Villani has himself constructed a Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation lookout on the top bank.

Their final destination was a green plot of land on which a proposed First Nation Park is planned to be built, an initiative of Emery Village BIA. This will be an interpretive First Nation Park. Three Chiefs have agreed that this would be a wonderful idea. Please see the Toronto.com article Toronto’s First First Nations Park to Go Before City.

The NYHS thanks Edith George for sharing the gems of her North York neighbourhood with us. As Edith says, “Hidden history is lost history.”

If you’d like to make a donation before December 12 to help save Toronto’s oldest tree and a living piece of North York history, please visit the City of Toronto’s website.