Everybody’s got his or her own personal retreat within the city limits. A getaway from the hustle and bustle, a secluded spot for reading, or a simple tree-lined corridor that serves as the perfect backdrop for a quiet lunch alone. Here are a few of the best kept secrets in the GTA
(As usual, we’ve probably neglected to include your favourite space, so feel free to leave it in the comments.)
Etienne Brulé Park
This pristine plot of land located north of the Bloor West neighbourhood in the Humber River valley is a perfect hideaway from foot and car traffic. Accessed from the north via Lundy Avenue, from the south at Old Mill Road (a mere skip from the Old Mill subway station), or by way of the Tommy Thompson Trail, this secluded area is characterized by the Old Mill Road bridge that casts a historically significant presence over the tranquil Humber River.
(Photo by Gary J. Wood via Flickr)
An unusual, some would say downright frightening, scene at Bathurst Street & Queens Quay, this narrow strip of land abutting the edge of Lake Ontario features a resplendently manicured lawn, dotted with a tiny army of ghoulish sculptures. These bronze figures are meant to symbolize the plight of the Irish population that fled from famine, arriving on brighter, Canadian shores. Relatively obscured from the noisy street, it’s a great spot for quiet contemplation, and a valuable history lesson.
(Photo by rene_beignet via Flickr)
Toronto-Dominion Building Courtyard
This accessible space in the heart of the extensive TD Centre between King Street West & Wellington Street West at Bay Street, features a serene grassy knoll on which corporate types can nibble their lunches away from the madding crowds. Commonly known as Pasture Park, this area is also home to Joe Fafar’s famous cow sculptures, plunked casually amid the landscape, as a solemn metaphor of calmness in an otherwise hectic part of town.
(Photo by Sun Brockie via Flickr)
St. Patrick’s Market Square
A tiny gem consisting of a simple, narrow stretch of green and a handful of benches, St. Patrick’s Market Square is nestled quaintly in the chaotic, touristy section of the Queen West neighbourhood, north of the high street, and south of OCAD’s main building on McCaul Street. The location itself, surrounded by antique row houses, is a perfect backdrop for those seeking a break between classes, or to grab a rest after an afternoon of shopping.
This solemn spread in the lavish Rosedale valley abounds with majestic trees that shade the tiny smattering of joggers and dog walkers. Reachable through an exquisitely ornate gate, with access to a lush trail leading from the Don Valley Brick Works, this tract of land is too beautiful to keep under wraps.
(Photo by Ian Irving via Flickr)
Perfect for adventurers and athletes, Cedarvale Park, which stretches from Eglinton West to St. Clair West along Bathurst Street, features something for everyone: bike and hiking trails, an ice rink, even an off-leash dog park. Though not technically a hidden space, the expansive area offers a slew of private walks and intimate parkettes that you can make your own. Get lost!
(Main photo by Sun Brockie via Flickr)