Spring 2007
At the Forks

Vol. 14, Issue 1  


President's Message

Many of you are reading ‘At The Forks’ for the first time. As it says on our masthead, this is the magazine of ‘Friends of the Don East’. We’ve been working in the community since 1993. And we’ve been growing every year. As we grow, we are able to distribute more and more issues of ‘At The Forks’ throughout the watershed. We hope you find it informative and we hope you consider helping us achieve even more through a membership or donation. Or simply come to one of our many events and lend a helping hand.

It doesn’t seem possible that we could have more events than we did last year, but it looks like our Executive Director, James McArthur, has done it again. You’ll see our Spring Events list near the back of this issue. On top of the events listed, we are also doing a couple of private plantings. We’ve also teamed up with Heritage Toronto, the Toronto Botanical Garden and Ontario Nature among others. You can see why ‘Friends of the Don East’ has become one of the largest reforestation organization in the entire city.

There is also very good news on the ‘Board of Directors’ front. We have three talented and passionate new members bringing fresh new ideas to the Board. They are Chantal Fortune, Alyssa Diamond and Debbie Supran. They join myself, John Routh and our treasurer, Alice Panagopoulos. It should also be noted that Debbie Supran has volunteered to be the Board Secretary.
With this new talent, 2007 will be a year of exciting growth. Stay up to date at our website for news about upcoming programs and events. And as always, if you have an idea on how to make our watershed a better place, please let us know about it. Although the Don watershed is a true jewel in the middle of a very busy city, there is always more that can be done to make it even better.

One last thing; we’ve already set the date for our annual fundraising dinner (see below). It’s earlier this year because it only makes sense for us to enjoy a wonderful dinner in the great outdoors on Allen’s patio. Hope to see you soon at an event.

Andrew Strachan, President


Native Plant Gardening

Every year, we here at FODE encourage the public and our members to plant native when landscaping their yards. By gardening with native plants, you can give nature a helping hand by reducing the need for pesticides and fertilizers, as local, native plants are well-adapted to local growing conditions. Its also an opportunity to garden in a way that will help local wildlife.

By using native plants you provide food and shelter that can draw birds, butterflies or chipmunks to your garden. With native gardening gaining in popularity every year, more and more retailers are selling native plants. Look on our website where we will list upcoming native plant sales as well as garden centres and regional nurseries where you can purchase native plants.

Rain Garden

Common Name
Latin Name
Plant Type
Swamp Aster
Aster puniceus
Michigan Lilly
Lilium michiganense
Joe-Pye Weed
Eupatorium maculatum
Swamp Milkweed
Asclepias incarnata
White Turtlehead
Chelone glabra
Impatiens capensis
Blue Flag Iris
Iris Versicolor
Common Elderberry
Sambucus canadensis
Red Osier Dogwood
Cornus stolonifera
Cephalanthus occidentalis
Sensitive Fern
Onoclea sensibilis
Marsh Fern
Thelypteris palustris
Yellow Birch
Betula alleghaniensis
Eastern White Cedar
Thuja occidentalis
Tsuga canadensis


Your Creek is What You Eat

The old adage goes…”You are what you eat”, there’s truth in that… but it doesn’t just apply to you. Your rivers and creeks are what you eat too! How does what you buy at the grocery store affect the health of your local watershed? In two very important ways.

First, when you choose Ontario produce, you also choose how it was farmed. Many times, conventional fruit and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides or grown with chemical fertilizers. These chemicals then run off into ditches, or seep into ground water that helps form your local river or  creek. There is an alternative, you can choose to buy organic. Organically grown fruits and vegetables are those grown without the addition of herbicides, pesticides or toxic chemicals. They taste just the same as your regular fruit and vegetables, except that the way they were grown ensures less harm to the land and water, both near the farm, and downstream in big cities. Organically grown fruit and vegetables do cost a bit more than conventional choices, but they are worth every penny. They are also more commonly available than ever. Organic produce is available at Whole Foods, The Big Carrot and many other specialty stores. However, you can also buy organic at most major supermarkets, including, Loblaws, Dominion, Sobeys, Longos and even Wal-Mart! Next time your out shopping please consider this more environmentally friendly form of food!

There is a second way in which the food you buy affects your local ravines. Whether you buy locally produced fruit and vegetables. By buying local produce you enable local farmers to make money, and that helps them keep the  farm going! When farmers are able to stay on the land, we get beautiful rolling fields of fresh tomatoes, corn and beans. When farmers can’t make money, we get another subdivision! Urban sprawl is an aesthetic blight, a cost to taxpayers and harmful to the environment, as more areas are paved over, more cars pollute the air, and the food comes from further away to reach your table, often in fuel guzzling trucks or planes. Local produce can’t always be purchased year round, but buying local when its  available, you can help keep more areas of Ontario natural and healthy. Local and Organic, two words to eat by.


Other Updates

Crothers' Woods

In November 2006, the city held public consultations on a management plan for Crothers' Woods, a beech maple forest in the Lower Don. It is under a number of stresses including increased trail use by mountain bikers and dog walkers, a new sewer connection to the North Toronto Sewage Treatment Plant, and a possible resurrection of Redway Road as a bus only transit route. The management plan will give the city guidelines on how to best manage all the competing uses of the area all the while maintaining the ecological integrity of this valuable habitat. The report is due to be released this spring.

West Don Lands Flood Protection

If another Hurricane Hazel were to strike Toronto, this area of downtown Toronto would be under flood threat. This problem is now being remedied by a two pronged project. The first part is reconfiguring the Lakeshore Railway bridge that crosses the Don River just north of Lakeshore Blvd. This will allow an increased flow of water to go underneath the bridge. This is expected to be completed in July 2007. The Lower Don Trail will be reopened at this time. The next step is to build a berm (a type of levee) on the west bank of the river. Once complete, this will allow revitalization efforts to begin on this long neglected corner of Toronto. In addition, the new 7.3 hectare “Don River Park” will grace the banks of the Don River.

Marsh at the Mouth

Work is continuing on the environmental assessment to turn the mouth of the Don River from the current concrete encased  channel to a more natural river mouth. They are currently looking at reviewing two options plus a combination. One option would flow straight south ending at the shipping channel, the other would empty more or less into the same place in the harbour that it does now. This is a long process which will continue well into 2008.


FODE is a membership-based non-profit organization working to protect and enhance the Don River and to encourage the establishment of healthy and sustainable communities within the central and eastern portions of the Don watershed, Toronto, Ontario. © 2004