Old glacier saved us from major flooding

When the big storm hit on July 8, many Leaside basements were flooded, but fortunately no one had to be rescued by the police marine unit as were the 1,400 passengers on the GO train in the Don Valley.

Actually we can thank our lucky stars that when the glaciers receded as a result of global warming 12,000 years ago they left Leaside on a plateau overlooking the deep ravine of the Don Valley. The retreating glaciers left a huge body of water known as Lake Iroquois.

At that time the Don Valley was only a bay in Lake Iroquois. Much of Leaside was covered by a lagoon cut off from the lake by a sand bar along today’s Danforth Ave. There were many streams, now tributaries of the Don River, that flowed into Lake Iroquois. Many still do, some on the surface and others below ground.

As many Leasiders have discovered, some to their horror, three of these underground streams, Walmsley Brook, Northlea Stream and Cudmore Creek, have been identified as flowing through parts of Leaside. The actual course of these streams is difficult to establish but they have been roughly mapped by a joint program of the Toronto Green Community and the Toronto Field Naturalists.

According to their calculations, Walmsley Brook enters Leaside about the intersection of Bayview and Eglinton, meandering its way into our industrial area and ultimately into the Don River.

The Northlea Stream apparently originates near Broadway and Hanna, crossing the southwest corner of the Northlea schoolyard and joining Walmsley Brook south of Eglinton on Vanderhoof between Rumsey and Sutherland.

Cudmore Creek flows through Mt. Pleasant Cemetery and, after crossing Bayview between Sutherland and Moore, passes through Sandy Bruce Park, under Moore, down Pottery Rd. and the Bayview Extension into the valley and ultimately the Don River.

While we may not know the exact routes of these streams, what we do know is the impact they have had and continue to have on Leasiders. For instance when McDonald’s was constructed at the corner of Bayview and Eglinton, replacing Marwood Motors, the Dodge dealer, the piledriving seemed to go on forever because they couldn’t find a bottom to secure the subsurface parking.

We also know that the condo on the southwest corner that replaced Charlie Wilson’s Texaco gas station and the condo on Bayiew just north of Sunnybrook Plaza both require sump pumps to keep their basements dry.

Many have mentioned the water table in Talbot Park. Marjorie Sheppard, writing in the July 2013 issue of Leaside Life, refers to the creek at the bottom of Bell’s hill at the foot of the north end of Cameron Cres. David Godbold in his book, The Parkhurst Gang, wrote that as a boy he played in the swamps of Eglinton.

From there Walmsley Brook and its tributary Northlea Stream proceed across Hanna, Vanderhoof, Parkhurst and Sutherland to McRae. Obviously it must pass through Crofton Rd. as well because when the late Tom Gaston’s bungalow was demolished to make way for a new and larger home the excavation hit underground water requiring a very costly new basement according to a report in the Toronto Star.

Long time Leasiders have told me that an open creek ran down McRae past the original location of the Bank of Commerce which could only be accessed by way of a wooden plank across the stream. From there the stream, now underground again, crossed Laird to run through the industrial area.

The map shows it on Commercial St. but the late Fred Bristow, who owned Leaside Fuels then on Industrial St., told me he had no basement in that building because it was built on quick sand.

Why is there evidence of ground water in the basement of Leaside United Church and in the backyards of houses on Rumsey Rd, across from Trace Manes Park? No one can be certain as to where these streams and their tributaries have meandered to today. All we know for sure is that they are down there somewhere underneath our feet.