TAKE A STROLL: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
1. Caledonia Road to St. Clarens Ave.

The Green Line begins where Earlscourt Park meets the Davenport rail underpass. The park's rather steep southern hill is the last dramatic bit of the escarpment-shoreline of ancient Lake Iroquois (the larger, ice age-era Lake Ontario) as the elevation changes less abruptly west of here. Davenport, following the path of an aboriginal route between the Humber and Don Rivers along the base of the escarpment, is one of Toronto's oldest roads and breaks from the formal street grid. Beyond the park, green space continues north from here, across St. Clair and up to Eglinton as Prospect Cemetery.

Across Davenport from the park a new housing development was built with low-rise apartment buildings on former industrial land. The narrow grassy space under the high voltage power lines that run between the apartments and Davenport has become an informal dog park where the fenced in area is accessible. At Lansdowne the former Canada Foundry Company has become the Foundry Lofts. Underneath the massive roof, with what must be the longest continuous skylight in the city, condo units have been created with large, open shared spaces. Where there was once industry, there are now people living, but they remain separated by barriers to Earlscourt Park just across relatively narrow Davenport Road.
by Shawn Micallef
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2. Primrose Avenue Parkette

A block east of Lansdowne at St. Clarens the hydro lines angle southwards at a forty-five degree angle through the residential neighbourhood tucked in between Davenport Road and Dupont Street. It's a quintessential mix of two-to-three storey Toronto home types — so mixed it defies classification other than simply "heterogeneous". Until recently the area was overwhelmingly working class but, as with many neighbourhoods in Toronto, homes have been renovated by new owners with more means, but the mix is still here and the pressure of change is not as great as other neigbourhoods to the south.

Here the space underneath the power lines is not "orphaned," as before. The small Primrose Avenue Parkette with a grassy area, some trees, and a playground with splash pad take advantage of the space between the houses. Neighbourhood kids would have likely played here regardless — kids love an empty lot — so it’s a good example of bringing services to places they're needed.
by Shawn Micallef
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3. Primrose Housing Co-operative

At Primrose Avenue the "step down" effect of this power line corridor crossing a grid diagonally is evident, as the lots where nothing is built are still square in shape, making for an interesting effect: this linear corridor has "spikes" on both sides, much like the tail of a dragon would, as the open space angles around backyards and the street grid. The Primrose Housing Co-operative straddles the north side of the corridor here with a mix of housing styles including late-brutalist terraced apartment housing that's typical of the 1970s era community housing. Here the hydro corridor is not "green" as it passes through the co-op's parking lot. With one entrance partially blocked by concrete barriers, it has a run down look. A basketball/tennis court is hard-surfaced and also in poor shape. Despite it being private property in unwelcoming condition, it remains a well-traveled route.
by Shawn Micallef
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4. Beaver Lightbourn Parkette

At the Beaver Lightbourn Parkette, the cultivated and maintained green section of the corridor begins again, with a cut lawn where neighbourhood dogs are walked — with no children's amenities present, the dogs, and their owners, seem to gravitate here. Curiously, a portion of the diagonal pathway changes from crushed stone to a wooden boardwalk, complete with wooden rails, as if there was marshland below, yet there's only more lawn. An equally strange low wooden fence is present that seems to have no purpose other than echoing the direction of the power lines above.
by Shawn Micallef
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5. Chandos Park North

Chandos Park begins beyond Lightbourn, along Chandos Avenue. This park contains a paved road hockey rink, taking the hockey off the road and into the park. Toronto is famously a hockey town, yet has many "no ball hockey" signs on its city streets. This rink seems to be one place where another option is provided. On a sunny fall day the collection of branches windblown into piles around the asphalt suggest it isn't well used, though a City of Toronto Parkland Acquisition Study says this eastern section of Ward 17 has less than one-fifth the green space of the average Toronto neighbourhood. Still, it remains a busy route for pedestrians. An older woman pulling carts with groceries stops and rests on the one of the benches here under the power lines next to a couple of women chatting on an adjacent bench. A park used like any park in the city. A block south the click and clack of the Dupont railway corridor trains come and go, as do younger guys in souped-up four-cylinder cars who race up and down neighbourhood streets with the thump of dance music bass pumping out of their tiny little mini-muscle cars.
by Shawn Micallef
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6. Chandos Park South

The south section of Chandos Park, across Chandos Avenue, zigzags between fenced-in private property, on a course by backyard fences, making this section seem like a big back yard as it has none of the standard playground equipment most parks have. Throughout this corridor, some places where the pathway crosses streets there are curb cuts for wheelchairs, bikes and those grocery carts, but at other places, like between the two Chandos parks, there isn't, so it isn't a completely accessible route.

The eastern edge of the park is quite loud as it borders Dufferin Street, a major traffic and transit pipe north and south. The relative calm of previous portions of the corridor is gone, replaced with car honking and diesel bus noise. A relatively new semi-circle of large stones provides seating and a view of the Dufferin traffic and the fairly busy foot traffic passing by, especially when area schools let out. Also in view are the first commercial establishments in the corridor along Dufferin.
by Shawn Micallef
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7. Dufferin Junction

Across Dufferin it isn't immediately clear that passage is possible following along the hydro corridor. Previously, the continued open space invited people to carry on but here the east side of Dufferin is lined with chain link fences with barbed wire tops, behind which U-Haul rental vehicles and an open hydro substation are located. The substation has the romantic name of Dufferin Junction (and should this neighbourhood ever need a hip name, there it is). Along either side are industrial buildings and one very strange-looking derelict house that seems frozen in a state of mid-renovation. To somebody new to the area, the narrow, muddy passage between the rental lot and substation is only apparent when other people pass through. And they do, though it's somewhat uncomfortable, with portions of the fence leaning due to rental vans ramming into it over time. Once through, it isn't clear if the scrubby grass is public or private, but the well-worn dirty path leads out to an alley and the next Parkette.
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8. Bristol Avenue Parkette

After the alley, the Bristol Avenue Parkette returns the corridor to friendly parkland again with a sandbox and children’s play equipment. A massive corkscrew willow (possibly the largest in the city, I'm told) on the north side compliments the view of Regal Heights school atop the escarpment about half a kilometer away above Davenport. Surrounding the park are a mix of houses and industrial buildings, some of which hum, as industrial buildings probably should. This is the beginning of the Green Line's proximity to Geary Avenue, a place where a drink can be had, an espresso made and flat tire mended.
by Shawn Micallef
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9. Bartlett Junction

The Bristol Parkette continues across Bartlett to one of the more derelict baseball diamonds in the city, with a rusted chain link backstop and large patches of grass and weeds growing up through the diamond surface. Should anybody want to play a sad game of baseball here, a hydro substation in the middle of the outfield makes this suitable only for the littlest of Little Leagues (or, perhaps, the recent Jays' roster). The parkland here is a buffer between the residential homes to the north and the Geary Avenue industrial and commercial strip that straddles the railway corridor. Geary is a surprise mishmash of a street, including a theatre costume rental shop, a hydroponics hemp store, a parkour gym, the "Kitch" bar, a seafood shop, a couple Portuguese restaurant-cafes and a variety of auto repair garages. This mix of uses, often separated in other parts of the city, exist next door to each other, sometimes in the same building, and could be considered the "downtown" hub of the Green Line corridor.
by Shawn Micallef
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10. Bartlett Parkette

At Bartlett Parkette the "step down" portion of the corridor ends as the power lines angle due east and come in line with the Toronto grid by following the railway cut that runs parallel to Dupont Street. It's also the end of the pedestrian pathway that began a kilometer west of here, back at the Beaver Lighbourne Parkette. Here the last segment of Bartlett Park lies in between the two commercial sections of Geary, once even called "Main Street." This was a central hub for the area prior to the establishing of the hydro corridor and the creation of "subways" under the railway (what we would call underpasses today), allowing commerce, people and vehicles to flow north and south instead of being contained above the tracks. Bartlett Avenue is one of the few at grade railway crossings in Toronto, as there is no underpass here. When crossing here, and pausing to look either way down the tracks, the wide space can be fully appreciated. The two existing railway lines don’t fill the space, as scrubland and a rough trail take up the rest. In the Bartlett pavement, remains of the three rail lines are still embedded in the pavement.

In 1910 when the area was annexed to Toronto, the street was re-named after the Mayor, George Reginald Geary. Mayor Geary opposed the building of subways (of the underground rapid transit type, not the underpasses) as they were too expensive. Had our current Mayor Rob Ford been alive, Geary Avenue would have been filled with subways, subways, and subways.
by Shawn Micallef
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11. Geary Avenue from Salem Ave to Delaware

Beyond Bartlett Park, Geary Avenue continues parallel to the hydro towers that now run along the CPR railway. Some sections underneath the towers have been licensed to private companies for storage or parking, while other sections have become semi-feral, with grass of varying length and scrubby bushes where dogs sometimes run off leash. The first light industrial building on the north side, east of the park is well known to the Toronto creative community. Called "The Branding Factory," it leases space to creative companies as well as quite a few bands. Rock and Roll-looking guys are often outside, smoking between practices, and muffled bass and drum sounds can be heard while walking by.

More garages further along on Geary are the kind of garages where people who like cars take them. The kind of people who say "I have a guy….." when referring to their mechanic, like they would their accountant or their doctor. Geary Avenue is not a Jiffy Lube or anonymous car dealership kind of street, it's where whatever's left of the romantic pursuit of cars-as-interesting-machines and engineering works of art still plays out. Still, like the auto shops on Ossington south of Dundas, some of the ones on Geary have left, transformed into residences or commercial spaces, like a place called Superframe, where major galleries like Mercer Union get their art framed, or the James Tse photography studio. We often hear about artists pushed out — they're more connected to the media — but working-class operations suffer from the same market forces.

Just before Delaware the foundation of a building can be walked on; old concrete with weeds pushing out of the cracks, a sign that buildings were demolished when the hydro corridor was established. There's some illegal dumping so trash piles up in the corners, and in these unused spaces there are often surprising unencumbered access points to the railway corridor, with nothing between people and the trains.

Dovercourt is the first difficult road crossing on the Green Line — previous road crossings were either at a traffic light or the street that wasn't busy. The proximity to the railway underpass, and the traffic rolling out of it and uphill quickly likely make a crossing signal impractical or even unsafe. Pedestrians mostly cross at mid-intersection, as walking to either Dupont on the next crossing point north is too far to be appealing. It would be nice to have a pedestrian and bicycle path over these busy roads somehow.
by Shawn Micallef
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12. Geary Avenue and Parkette

Across the tracks, past Dovercourt, the graffiti covered great glass factory of the Hamilton Gear and Machinery Company, founded in 1911, rises higher than most of the Dupont skyline. This building and others along this stretch betray modern Toronto's industrial routes and that our shiny international city has much in common with Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland and other rust belt cities.

One of the more impressive existing parkettes on the Green Line, the Geary Avenue Parkette, takes advantage of the land underneath the powerlines with manicured grass, trees, a playground, children's splash pad and a sand volleyball court. Recently renovated by the City, there is a pleasant circle of benches under a tree near the Ossington Avenue end of the park with new plants and crushed pale yellow gravel, much like paths in formal European gardens and parks. Given the shape and steel construction of the hydro towers, if you let your imagination take over, you can see Paris here in an unexpected part of Toronto. Those mini-multiple Eiffel's are also a bit odd when looked at closely: the "arms" on one side are double length, holding more wires, as if the towers are reaching towards the lake. Here, there's a substantial fence between the tracks and playground, beyond which the back of the Dupont industrial buildings rise. Another fence between Geary and the playground keeps the kids away from this busy stretch of street; with fewer shops than before there's less activity to slow drivers down so they speed along quicker here.

At Ossington there is another difficult pedestrian and cycling crossing where buried Garrrison Creek flows underneath, as it once made its way uncovered along where Somerset Avenue is now, crossing at this intersection, and heading in a general southeast meander.
by Shawn Micallef
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13. Garrison Creek Parkette

At Ossington the Green Line again becomes a car free route, as a paved pathway leads up the underpass embankment and along an alley with houses backing onto it from adjacent Acores Avenue. The busyness of Geary and the Ossington crossing give way to calm and quiet. Suddenly there's less people, no commerce and no cars to dodge. When trains do come by — and they do, often, the CPR is a busy line — they break the calm and dominate everything, a moving mass of steel along the south. The ground rumbles and you have to yell to speak. The diesel locomotive commands attention like nothing else in the city, short of a skyscraper.

Just south of the tracks is another old industrial building that has been rough artist live-work lofts for some time, and the 24hour Sobey's grocery store. The park here under the hydro wires is framed on the north side by alley garages, so it's reminiscent of the "back yard" portions of the diagonal Green Line corridor to the west, and will sometimes provide space for neighbourhood bbq cookouts near the allotment gardens and off-leash dog run.
by Shawn Micallef
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14. Frankel Lambert Park

After crossing Shaw Street the generally unencumbered Green Line walk comes to an end as a wrought iron fence separates the sidewalk from a community housing parking lot. However, the dirt pathway worn in the grass leading to the fence is evidence it has not stopped much traffic, and the fence can be climbed over relatively easily if one is able-bodied, though cyclists and others are better off heading around the block to continue on.

Once again the Green Line is calm, with very few cars on Melita Crescent that separates Frankel Lambert Park and the town homes on the north side. Residents here have no front yards, as houses are very urban and built right to the sidewalk, but the park functions as a communal yard for everyone. The park has a playground and basketball court, and while not in the best of condition is most interesting because of odd concrete structures that seem like the ruins of a modern building. They are quite possibly the remains of a building that was taken down for the hydro lines as there is a cement wall (now covered in murals) running along part of the southern section of the park along the railway tracks, and a low foundation leading perpendicular from the wall at the east end.

Towards Christie Street, by Christie Gardens (a seniors housing and long-term care facility) and the Fred Dowling Co-op, there are allotment gardens cared for by the Friends of Frankel Lambert Park. A small plaque attached to a pole with a weathervane on top by the garden dedicates it to the memory of L. Terrell Gardner, "humanist, family man, mathematician, peace activist, choral singer, cyclist. Born 22 September 1926, Cleveland, Ohio; died 22 December 2010". If you look closely all across the city, little memorials, official or not, like this can be found.

South, across the tracks, another of Dupont's great industrial buildings rises high in the sky. It's mid-rise height is of note because there was a Model T test track on the roof when this building opened in 1915 as Ford showroom and car assembly factory. Today various offices and the Faema Café, where Green Line-goers can find some European civilization, are housed within.
by Shawn Micallef
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15. Castleview Wychwood Towers and TTC Hillcrest Complex

The most "off road" portion of the Green Line begins across Christie Street. Off road in the sense that our mercurial path is now fully dirt and more of a construction site than not, with bulldozed piles of earth and tread tracks filled with water. Proximity to the tracks here is close, with no fence and parked boxcars could be accessed, though it seems likely they could move at any time. The parking lot for the Castleview Wychwood Towers long term care facility extends along for a bit of the walk, then the back of a building boxes in the Green Line until the dirt trail leads to a chain-link fence that wraps around the Toronto Transit Commission's Hillcrest complex, a works yard for Streetcars and busses and the control-centre for the entire transportation network.

Interesting here is the new spur line that runs off the CPR railway and into the Hillcrest Yard, allowing for delivery of new streetcars and a rare TTC-to-large-gauge-railway connection. The TTC parking lot cannot be accessed without climbing a high fence, so access to Bathurst is either gained by walking back and heading the Dupont or (longer) Davenport routes though there is enough room to creatively figure out a way through this non-work area.
by Shawn Micallef
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16. Tarragon Village

This brief stretch of the Green Line becomes considerably greener as crossing Bathurst means the leafy Annex neighbourhood begins (though some would say the neighbourhood ends at the railway). Bridgmen Avenue runs along parking lots lined with scrubby vegetation under the hydro lines that fill with cars for either the nearby Tarragon Theatre or with George Brown college students. The north side of the street is a mix of old industrial buildings — one of which has housed the Tarragon Theatre since 1971 — and homes. The theatre is the northern location of three of Toronto's independent small theatres that line Bathurst (the other two being Theatre Passe Muraille and the Factory Theatre, both to the south).
by Shawn Micallef
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17. Casa Loma Campus of George Brown College

Past the Howland underpass the George Brown campus begins with a building adjacent to the tracks, the first since Geary Avenue. More gravel and paved parking lots, one with some rather nice landscaping elements (compared to previous lots), leads through a brief chicane-like bump around that single building, through a dense pocket of the campus, and onwards to Macpherson Avenue which runs to Spadina. The street passes by a few blocks of white Georgian style townhomes that, with historic Casa Loma rising above at the top of the Davenport escarpment, makes this area seem like the wealthy Kensington neighbourhood in London UK, though even at seven figures, the Toronto Georgians are still much cheaper.
by Shawn Micallef
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18. Toronto Archives and Madison Avenue Lofts

The final linear segment of the Green Line begins at Spadina Avenue and the last of the difficult road crossings. Busy with students making their way to the Dupont Subway Station just under the tracks, here the ghost of the Spadina Expressway, cancelled in 1971, can be seen in the setbacks of the Georgian rowhouses on the west side and the Toronto Archives on the east, there to provide room to the proposed highway that was never built.

Further east the Madison Avenue Lofts were created in a former Toronto Hydro Building and have residential units right down to sidewalk level, where landscaping makes this one of the more pleasant parts of the line. The south, however, is also the last of the scrubland and parking lots along the tracks. In a few places along Macpherson Street old spur line tracks can still be seen leading to the existing hydro substation whose hum can be heard half a block away.
by Shawn Micallef
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19. Toronto Bridgman Transformer Station

The Green Line ends at a triangular site bounded by Huron Street on the west, Davenport on the north and east, and Macpherson to the south. Here the electrical hum dominates nearly as much as passing locomotives as a cluster of outdoor electrical equipment are found quite close to the southern edge of the property behind a substantial chain link fence.

Beyond the visible electrics is the Bridgman Transformer Station, a large two storey red brick building built in 1904 and designed by Toronto's great early architect, E. J. Lennox of Old City Hall and Casa Loma fame. It continues the theme of noble and grand but uncelebrated industrial heritage found along this corridor. Gravel lots to the north, some used by Toronto Hydro, others orphaned, give the site a neglected feel, and the constant traffic along Davenport heading into and out of Yorkville cuts off the site from adjacent residential areas somewhat. Though this site is industrial in nature, the area north of here, considered South Forest Hill or Poplar Plains by some, has some of Toronto's most expensive real estate.

Here the electricity goes underground, but there's much potential for more connections, as there is a nexus of cycling routes where Davenport passes underneath the CPR railway, and pedestrian paths into ravines to the north and east. From this point, it's only a ten minute walk to Yonge and Bloor, arguably the centre of Toronto, so the Green Line, which reaches deep into the west side of Toronto ends very close to what is, arguably, the crossroads of the city.
by Shawn Micallef
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