Europeans are settling and developing present day Toronto. The Don River flows into Ashbridges Marsh, one of the largest freshwater marshes on the north shore of Lake Ontario. This marsh is home to birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Urbanization continues in the Toronto harbour. Hard to imagine today, it was very mucky and dirty. Gooderham & Worts Distillery establishes on the bank of the Don River, a booming distillery business along with cattle feedlots. Waste is disposed directly into the river and Ashbridges Marsh. The environmental conditions in the marsh are declining and by 1911 a decision is made to fill the marsh to create lands that will serve more economical purposes.

Filling of Ashbridges Marsh is mostly complete; the marsh habitat is long gone.

The St. Lawrence Seaway opens to improve commercial navigation through the Great Lakes. Toronto anticipates a boom in port activity and begins a new lakefilling project at the foot of Leslie Street to create land for port related infrastructure. Click the poster below to download the pdf.

The Baselands are constructed first, followed by the start of the ‘Spine Road’ (i.e. Multi-Use Trail). The fill material in these areas is made of brick and concrete rubble from demolition and construction sites across Toronto.

The peninsulas and embayments are created through a hydraulic dredge of the outer harbour. They are made of the sand-silt material from the lakebed that provide a different growing medium than the rest of the landform. Port activities have not taken off as anticipated in the late 1950s. The provincial government awards Toronto and Region Conservation the responsibility of developing a Master Plan for a public park on the lands.

With the binational Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement of 1978 new regulations were put in place for a minimum quality of material that could be disposed of in open water. Dredged materials from the lower Don River and Keating Channel did not meet these regulations, and as such, construction starts on three Confined Disposal Facilities that will permanently hold the contaminated sediments.

Trees and shrubs are establishing on the peninsulas. The Confined Disposal Facilities are built and the north cell, Cell 1, is filled to capacity. Lakefilling continues south of Cell 3.

The landform is nearing its final footprint. Lakefilling continues on the lakeside, north of the lighthouse to create the Toplands.

Lakefilling is complete. TRCA has implemented Master Plan phase I including habitat creation and enhancement projects, trails and buildings. The park is designated as an Environmentally Significant Area and an Important Bird Area. It provides critical habitat for wildlife and unique recreation opportunities minutes from downtown Toronto.