On Saturday, May 7, about 50 people took part in a Jane’s Walk to discover some Weston and Mount Dennis history.
After viewing some artifacts including clovis arrowheads, stone axes and clay pipes, we ventured under the Eglinton bridge at Scarlett Road.
Moving up the river from there Mike and Simon led the group to some interesting relics from the early years of West Park Hospital. Established in 1904, for patients suffering from tuberculosis it was then known as the Toronto Free Hospital for Consumptive Poor or the Weston Sanitarium. Since this was in the days before antibiotics, treatment consisted mainly of rest and fresh air. At the time, Toronto’s death toll from TB was considerable; something like 7 people a day. Even then, TB was known to be infectious and city workers fearing contagion refused to collect food waste from the hospital. As a result, the sanatarium set up a piggery and chicken operation on hospital grounds close to the Humber. The farm was self-sustaining and with 1000 hens and 50 pigs, there was no shortage of food. Pigs were slaughtered at the stockyards.
Antibiotics revolutionized treatment of TB and in 1954, the animals were swept away during Hurricane Hazel but evidence remains of the extensive farming operation that was operated by staff and patients.
By the river, there is a small informal pet cemetery that apparently has been used by local residents for years.
The last segment of the walk ended by the weir in Raymore Park and there was discussion of the effects of Hurricane Hazel on the area which led to the forerunner of today’s TRCA, the creation of many of Toronto’s parks and the preservation of this city’s famous ravines.
Another great walk; luckily we had no rain and as a bonus – mosquitoes haven’t emerged – yet!