Here’s a photograph from the lovely Rouge valley. I honestly didn’t notice the gift of that shaft of light, kissing the tree, until I got home – but I always appreciate every one of those signs that the universe is glad we showed-up and tried.
The more I hike the watersheds and river-systems around my city, the deeper I feel it’s history. When we think of historically important rivers around the world, they are generally huge and easily navigable. For us, the real development started off with canoes, and so rivers like the Rouge, Don, Humber and Credit, were in fact important routes of trade, crucial to opening up the interior.
Toronto itself is here for the same reason the natives had already settled it, when Etienne Brulee (the first European on-site) arrived – the ideally-shaped sandbar that we have now developed into the Toronto Islands. For any naval power of the time, a big calm-water harbour with easily defensible entrances was absolutely irresistible!
Funny little detail – our greatest founding hero – John Graves Simcoe (who, amongst other things, founded Upper Canada in such a way as to include no future possibility of slavery, decades before it was challenged anywhere else in the British empire) set up his own house outside of the city originally, on the far side of the Don valley. I can’t help thinking that was so he could have lots of time for thinking and living, without being constantly pestered! (We only like to think that we’re the first, for whom life moves a little bit too fast)
Bunting for mister Simcoe
Here’s Simcoe’s first Canadian house – preserved on the CNE (exhibition) grounds – (which he, abhoring crowds, would hate!) ;o)
PS – Just because it’s really nice – here’s the exact (1791) wording he (Simcoe) used:
“The moment I assume the Government of Upper Canada under no modification will I assent to a law that discriminates by dishonest policy between natives of Africa, America, or Europe.”
Which to me translates – “You want me to give up my comfy job as a British MP and create a whole new country-infrastructure from scratch? Okay, but that slavery shit just ain’t on!” Definitely my kind of ornery bastard! ;o)