Charles Sauriol Conservation Area and the Milne House

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I spent a lot of time as a kid playing by the banks of the Don River. Not a particularly advisable pastime, according to my parents – what with the pollution, the teenagers up to no good, and the frequent, sudden spring flooding. But like any forbidden thing, the more unadvisable it is, the more you want it. And so, as a young whippersnapper, I went. Often. My particular 70’s/80s haunt was the park at York Mills and Bayview, not Charles Sauriol – but as I walked down the paved paths of Charles Sauriol Conservation Area this morning, that smell – the smell of the Don – l took me right back to my childhood. It’s not a bad smell, but just the particular smell of the river on a hot, muggy day. Organic matter. Dead matter. Living matter. Maybe a little raccoon poo thrown in. Weeds, and wildflowers. Bugs and bees. Strolling along the paved path, the names of all the plants I passed were whispered in my ear by my younger self: Teazle. Queen Anne’s Lace. Cattails. Purple Loosestrife. Sumac.

A small detour took me under the ‘rainbow bridge’ – visible to anyone who’s driven up the DVP north of Eglinton – and gave me an opportunity to finally read all the words of wisdom scrawled within by our local teenagers. My favourite was a long, itemized checklist – which was either well-organized bragging, or a ‘To-Do’ list – either way, it gave me a laugh. This is just a short excerpt… you’ll have to go to read the rest.  ‘JAYWALKING. PICKING TRILLIUMS. PUBLIC URINATION. CONSUMPTION (WEED). POSSESSION (WEED). MICKED PEANUTS. UNDERAGE CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL. SEATBELT NEGLIGENCE. MAKING A FIRE IN A PUBLIC PARK.’ …Sounds like a helluva night!

I was also quite taken with the Milne house – an abandoned, historic Gothic Revival farmhouse. The sign (defaced of course) tells the passers-by that it is in the midst of being restored, and will have a heritage garden too. Some day. As for today, it looked like a good set for a gothic horror film. Remember that armless legless thing living on the wheeled cart under the bed in that old X-Files episode? I think he lives there.

My daughter liked the CN Railway bridge the best – you can see it if you are driving east on Eglinton just before Don Mills – but seeing it from underneath is much much better. It’s awfully impressive in its rusting glory, as you stand, feeling like a little ant, and look up at all the criss-crossing girders soaring into the sky. Exciting stuff for anyone, not just a 3 year old.

And the best thing about all of this, is it’s walking distance from my house – the entrance is easily found just west of the DVP, south off of Lawrence Avenue (although I do confess I did drive – there is a heat alert on today after all).

More on Charles Sauriol Conservation Reserve is here:

And more in-depth info on the Milne house can be found here:

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3 Responses to Charles Sauriol Conservation Area and the Milne House

  1. Chris Green says:

    Great photos and memories Jane. I forget some times how much green space there is in the Toronto area.

  2. Jo Baumann says:

    I know the park well. I discovered Milne House in 2004. It reminded me of a little waif. So neglected. Now it is surrounded by that awful fence!! For it’s own good of course. It 2008/09 it was covered in graffitti. Have some photos on flicker joart. If you grew up in Don Mills during ’80s. you probably know my daughters. You can email me to find out.

  3. Trevor M says:

    Smoked many a joint in this amazing park. Even broke into the milne house to do so, going to go back for 4/20 and bring back some old memories, CHEERS!

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