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Highland Creek Watershed Features

Nestled within the urban landscape of the Highland Creek, remnant forests, wetlands and meadows provide habitat for plants and animals and recreational opportunities for people year round.  Get to know the Highland Creek by exploring these fascinating sites.

Do you have a story about any of these sites or other places of interest in the Highland Creek watershed? Share your stories or photos through the Connect with the Creek Project.

Places of Interest

Parks and Natural Areas

  • L'Amoreaux Park
  • Colonel Danforth Park
  • Hague Park
  • Milliken Park
  • Morningside Park
  • Tabor Hill Ossuary
  • Thomson Memorial Park
  • William Alexander Dempsey EcoPark
  • Mouth of the Highland and Stephenson's Swamp

Trails

More Points of Interest


Map of the Highland Creek watershed boundaries

Morningside Park:Spanning an area of 1.7 km2, Morningside Park was originally established on the floodplain that had experienced extensive damage after Huricane Hazel in 1954.

Found to the west of the University of Toronto campus at Morningside Avenue, and to the south of Ellesmere Road, Morningside Park is a green oasis in an urban environment. It is the site of the largest contiguous forest in the Highland watershed and two Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs).

A series of trails connects Morningside Park to nearby communities and Lake Ontario's Waterfront Trail. The park is home to a variety of wildlife - don't be surprised to see an array of colourful birds, white tailed deer, or even a red fox.

 

Colonel Danforth Park:Stretching south along the Highland Creek from the University of Toronto Scarborough campus to Lawrence Avenue East, Colonel Danforth Park was named after Asa Danforth, who in 1799, cut and cleared the first main road through what is now Scarborough (at a rate of 90 cents a mile!).

Using the netword of recreational trails, take an afternoon and stroll through Colonel Danforth Park. Listen closely to the sounds of nature as you walk, you may just hear the distinctive sounds of the pileated woodpecker. The largest of our woodpeckers, the pileated woodpecker (imagine Woody Woodpecker of the old Loony Tunes cartoon), is dependent on old growth forest and has been recorded breeding in the mature forest of Colonel Danforth Park.

Milliken Park:Formally opened in 1993, Milliken Park has one of the largest remaining woodlots and some of the oldest trees in the Highland watershed - you will find wonderful examples of sugar maple, American beech, ironwood, and basswood trees.

In addition to the forest stands, Milliken Park contains a shallow,  man-made, open water pond that helps manage and filter the influx of stormwater after heavy rains. This stormwater management pond also attracts wetland birds such a the red-winged blackbird, Canada goose, and mallard, as well as amphibians such as the leopard frog, and American toad. 

Tabor Hill Ossuary:There is a long history of Aboriginal settlement in the Highland Creek watershed; prior to the mid-15th century, Scarborough was home to several First Nations settlements. An ossuary, or burial site, of the Iroquois Nation was uncovered in 1956 during development of farmland into residential housing.

The ossuary represents a final resting place for Iroquois that had passed away during settlement of the area. The remains would have been previously interred and only moved to the current Ossuary site when the village migrated to another region (in a ceremony known as the Feast of the Dead). The site has since been restored to its historical state and a plaque erected to commemorate the significance of the area.

The Tabor Hill Ossuary is located in Taber Hill Park, on the east side of Bellamy Road, north of Lawrence Avenue between Markham Road and McCowan Avenue. Click here for more information.

Thomson Memorial Park:Located near Lawrence Avenue and Brimley Road, Thomson Memorial Park commemorates the home of the first settlers in Scarborough, the Thompson family, who arrived in 1796.

A popular destination, Thomson Memorial Park offers a variety of activities including, tennis, soccer, softball, large picnic table shelters, a children's wading pool, and of course, the Scarborough Museum.

One of 10 historic museums operated by the City of Toronto, the Scarborough Museum traces the story of Scarborough's rural roots through history to the present day. Through activities and displays, visitors are inspired and challenged to connect the past with the present. Open year-round. Click here for more information.

L'Amoreaux Park:Located off McNicoll Avenue, just west of Kennedy Road (at the headwaters of the Bendale tributary), L'Amoreaux Park is home to the last large stand of mature trees in the community (Passmore Forest). Despite being isolated from other other wooded areas by urban development, this woodlot remains in remarkably good health. Sensitive wildflower species, such as trout lily, white and red trillium, and spring beauty, can be found within the forest.

Small ponds are found within the park. While taking a walk through the area, try to spot some of the many animals that can be found in and around these ponds. Don't be surprised to see foxes, raccoons, ducks, geese, and garter snakes among many others!

Mouth of the Highland and Stephenson's Swamp:A wetland complex found at the confluence of the Highland and Centennial Creeks, Stephenson's Swamp is designated as a provincially significant wetland. This wetland complex is composed of four individual wetlands totalling an area of 76,000 square meters! Coastal wetlands such as this are now rare on Lake Ontario, and a representation of this size is an important ecological feature.

Wetland conservation is a key component of maintaining local biodiversity. Not only are many amphibian species particularly susceptible to changes in wetland health, but also require a close relationship between aquatic and terrestrial habitats for breeding. Although these conditions are difficult to maintain within such a fragmented environment, they do occur within this wetland complex, making it an important site for many sensitive species.

Hague Park:Located south of Lawrence Avenue East, between
McCowan Road and Bellamy Road North, TRCA has identified Hague Park as an Environmentally Significant Area (ESA).

With a healthy forest stand dominated by black cherry, a Carolinian forest species, Hague Park is easily set apart from the surrounding landscape. Also present is the regionally rare American hazelnut, and a mixed forest with sugar maple, American beech, eastern hemlock, eastern white cedar and white birch.