I’ve been perusing John Sewell’s 1976 document, ‘Don Mills and Suburbia’. Much of what he wrote back then is standard knowledge that is trotted out about Don Mills in every article written about our fine suburb, but I did come across a couple passages that surprised me. Such as: ‘The branch of the Don River in the north east quadrant was to be dammed to provide a small lake for boating and swimming.’ Damn, wouldn’t THAT have been fun!
Of course, we know that that never happened, so it wasn’t surpising to read a few pages later, ‘The lake proposed for the north east quadrant never got built. It appears this branch of the Don River was dammed further to the north before the company had begun to make plans to install a dam just north of Lawrence’. Hmm, sounds like someone didn’t do their homework before coming up with this wacky and ambitious plan.
Can you imagine, coming home from work on a hot summer’s day, peeling off your suit and tie, putting on your swim trunks, grabbing your inflatable boat and running down the Donway yelling ‘Last one to jump in is a rotten egg!’ And then of course, it hits you… the smell of rotten eggs. And sewage, and rusting shopping carts. Because, of course, this is the Don River.
Then again, if part of the Don River had become a popular recreation spot in the 50’s, perhaps industry would have thought twice about using it as a sewage pipe all these years. Well, we’ll never know. But perhaps, somewhere in an alternate reality, the denizens of Don Mills are paddling canoes idylically around a pristine ‘Lake Don Mills’… and catching a few trout to take home for supper.