Birch Cliff Quarrylands

Earlier this year, I led a walk for the Toronto Field Naturalists at the Birch Cliff Quarrylands. On that day, we were looking for weeds and, of course, found many.

In December of 2018, I led another to experience a walk here in winter conditions.

Two days before that walk, I went out and took many photos which I show in this post.

The Quarrylands comprise 49 acres at Victoria Park Avenue and Gerrard Street East.

The area is an interesting mixture of field:



and improvised dump:

Parts of the forest are surprisingly beautiful with mature White and Red Oaks.

The GO trains rush by about every ten minutes:

Some views of the forest:

of the fields:

There is a grassy park area just north of Gerrard Street:

A few birds were about including this Cooper’s Hawk:

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

A Bald-faced Hornet’s nest:

even a shrub in bloom!

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

The graffiti artists are at work here:

Even some trees are “tagged”:

Black Cherry

Red Oak

White Oak

more signs of dumping:

Once this area was a brickworks and then a gravel quarry.

In the 1950’s it became an unregulated dump. Everything from radioactive paint to barrels of solvents lie just below the surface. Locals say that if the gasses brewing below the ground were to ignite, half of Scarborough would go with it.

This fenced-in brick shed contains a flare stack which burns off gasses 24 hours a day.

There are dozens of these bright blue, square vertical boxes scattered about the property:

They are test locations for extracting samples of the toxicity lurking below.

At one time the area was to be used for a Scarborough Expressway which was never built.

There is talk of putting a huge apartment complex here though it is not definite.

We saw a large flock of pigeons en route to the Quarrylands:


Miles Hearn















2 thoughts on “Birch Cliff Quarrylands

  1. Friends of Cedarvale

    This is a most interesting area. I see there is a local group that is fighting the development of tower blocks in the eastern portion of the site. I think I will take my hiking group out there in 2019 sometime to explore it. My son actually lives near there and says he has driven past it but not really noticed it.

    Your hike notes and photos are always interesting. You seem to get out quite a lot, even in the winter.

    We at Friends of Cedarvale are getting ready to transition to our new councillor, Josh Matlow.


  2. Joseph Romain

    I was interested in your mention of radioactive paint dumped here.
    I am an old guy and have lived here since the early 80’s. My late neighbour lived here since the 1920’s. He used to tell about that radioactive paint dump, and that the area had been ‘poisoned forever’. Since that time, we have seen more than one deveopment proposal come and go, and my own assumption was that the land remediation would make it too costly and/or risky to build homes and playgrounds where barrels of radioactive waste had leached into the ground…
    If you know anything about this, I would be interested to hear about it.
    Great photo essay! Thanks.
    Joseph Romain


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