Thursday, 24 November 2016

Great Waters Challenge #4

Hey! I'm back after reading my fellow participants' blogs. I'm so happy that we were finally able to read the other blogs, because I learned so much from them.

What struck me most about their blogs was the focus and emphasis on education. It really reminded me how important it is to both teach and learn about water issues and our watersheds, and to tailor educational materials or techniques to the audience. This was reflected in my fellow participants' blogs - from Kaylyn's information sheet on ice fishing, to the "limited access to water" exercise that the Grade 4/5 students at Assumption School experienced.

I've decided to share my vision of Canada's water future by writing a haiku poem:

Share water's stories
Across all generations
Lead by example

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Great Waters Challenge #3

Hey again! This 3rd challenge was about the power of networks and community engagement. I decided to share the information I learned over a hike at Dundas Peak. We saw some great sights and some waterfalls too! It was a great setting to share knowledge and ideas.

Webster Falls

Tews Falls

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Great Waters Challenge #2

Hi again, and welcome back to my blog!

This second challenge is about the history of water in my community and watershed. I'm an explorer, so I've chosen Option 3, where I've been tasked to find 3 water-related landmarks in my neighbourhood.

Thank goodness the weather has remained nice these days because it made my exploring much easier! In the course of wandering around the Toronto area, I've learned a lot about the history of the city, and am excited to share my findings with you.

In Toronto, there are two prominent rivers that run into Lake Ontario - Humber River and Don River. All of them (Humber River, Don River, and Lake Ontario) have interesting tidbits of history, and I've found landmarks relating to each. Here goes:

1. Humber Bay Arch Bridge

Photo taken on one of my recent bike rides along the Martin Goodman Trail
This is a beautiful bridge. Over the past few years, I've biked or run on this bridge many times, and have always marveled at its architecture and beauty. However, it was not until this water challenge that I actually sat down to research its history.

The bridge is located where the Humber River empties into Lake Ontario, and it connects what was "Old Toronto" with "Etobicoke". It sits atop a trading route that was used by Aboriginal Peoples for more than 200 years, and the bridge's architecture was inspired by this history. There was an Indigenous art consultant involved in the planning and design of the bridge, and this is visible in the bridge today. For example, you will see the triangular patterns along the top of the bridge. This represents the Thunderbird, which has cultural significance to the Aboriginal Peoples.

Image result for thunderbird first nations humber
Photo source:
Next time you're at the bridge, remember to also look underneath it where you will find displays of turtles, canoes, snakes and salmon.

2. Salmon in the Don River

Salmon swimming up the Don

A few years back, I saw salmon swimming upstream in the Don River all the way up near Steeles Avenue (the northernmost border of the Toronto). I had not seen the salmon there in years prior, and started to wonder why.

I found some answers at It turns out that salmon have only been able to swim up the Don River within the last two decades, because there were previously in-stream barriers that prevented them from swimming past the lower 3km. Thanks to the efforts of the Toronto Region Conservation Area. Feel free to click the link above to learn more!

3. Front Street - the Old Shoreline of Lake Ontario

Standing on Front Street facing south towards Lake Ontario
For those living in downtown Toronto, the history of the Lake Ontario shoreline is fascinating. Back in the day, Front Street was the waterfront area. Then the area south of it was filled in (with garbage), and new streets were built. So Lake Shore Boulevard and Queens Quay West became the streets closest to the shoreline. 

What's interesting is the amount of development that has taken place on this landfill since its inception. Despite the difficulties and added costs of building on contaminated and softer soil/land, today you'll see countless condominiums south of Front Street, along with Toronto's iconic CN Tower and the Rogers Centre. 

Whereas Toronto's waterfront used to be an industrial port, it is now home to a mixed-use strip and a beautiful multi-use trail. I took a bike ride recently along the Martin Goodman Trail and took some pictures to share with you all:

Sunset on the waterfront
Toronto police on horseback - moonlight over Lake Ontario
Hope you enjoyed the photos and the stories! Until next time =)

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Great Waters Challenge #1

Hi! I'm Penny and I'm from Toronto. I was actually born in Hong Kong, and immigrated to Toronto when I was three years old. I reside on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, the Metis, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.

I'm taking part in this Great Waters challenge because, for some reason, I'm very interested in water. I can't pinpoint the time in my life that I became so interested, or even why. But I can tell you that water both fascinates me and scares me. Water is so essential to life; yet, it can be so mysterious and so powerful to the point that it instills fear (just thinking about how much of the ocean is unexplored and unknown, and the immense power of waterfalls).

Water is everywhere - whether it be in the form of H20 or as a concept, idea or topic of conversation. I recently visited the Chihuly glass exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum - lo and behold, the first piece on display in the exhibit was related to water.

"Glass itself is so much like water. If you let it go on its own when you work with it, it ends up looking like something that came from the sea" - Dale Chihuly

My community belongs to the Harbourfront watershed in Toronto. Local issues surrounding water in my area includes the health of Lake Ontario and excessive water usage in the City. The local water challenge that most concerns me is the disconnect between urban residents and water. Living in such a big city, I find that it is easy for people to lose touch with where their food and water comes from. Water comes so readily through our taps and showers, while food from all over the world can be found in nearby grocery stores. In any conservation effort, the first step is knowledge and awareness. I think that the biggest challenge we face as Torontonians is the need to reconnect with water - mentally, spiritually, and culturally. Only then can we see change.

That's all I have for now. See you again at Challenge #2!