Riverdale Farm and Environs: July 2020

Until the opening of the Toronto Zoo in 1975, this was the site of the Riverdale Zoo. Here are some photos of it from BlogTo:

Some of the old zoo buildings were still standing the last time I was here complete with jungle scenes painted on the walls of the old monkey area.

Now this lower area with these buildings and a pond are closed to the public.

These days it is a farm and it attracts many parents and grandparents with their toddlers. I frequently heard the “moos” and “baas” that the young ones have learned from picture books.

Some botany:

Boston Ivy
Virginia Creeper (Pathenocissus inserta)
Trumpet-creeper (Campis radicans)
False Buckwheat (Polygonum scandens)
Creeping Bellflower (Campanula rapunculoides)
Mallow (Malva neglecta)
Great Burdock (Arctium lappa)
Common Burdock (Arctium minus)
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
Ash-leaved Spirea (Sorbaria sorbifiolia) with bee
Common Sow-thistle (Sonchus oleraceus)
Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Kentucky Coffee Tree (Gymnocladus dioicus)
Common Pear (Pyrus)
Horse-chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)
Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia)
Sunflower (Helianthus)
Orange Day-lily (Hemerocallis fulva)

Other sights:

Asian Beetle

Some history:

Riverdale farm is next to St. James Cemetery.

I had the good fortune of meeting Jack Layton several times when he held meetings at the east end church where I was organist.

I was last here on a blustery March day searching for the grave of my grandparents. I didn’t find it but did find that of my great grandparents.

Today I found that of my grandparents.

Murray died in 2001.

Also nearby is a tribute to a popular radio and TV personality who died in 1984.

Gordon Sinclair Lane

The former St. Enoch’s Presbyterian Church had as its minister, for a time, the father of celebrated organist, composer and conductor Sir Ernest MacMillan.

Sir Ernest learned to play the organ here.


The Summer looks out from her brazen tower,
Through the flashing bars of July.                           – Francis Thompson (1859–1907)

Miles Hearn

2 thoughts on “Riverdale Farm and Environs: July 2020

  1. Lisa Volkov

    Thank you for sharing your visit. It was very moving to see the grave of your relatives. I didn’t manage to find the grave of Jack Layton, but I will try again when thing get back to normal someday (I hope). I have always enjoyed contemplative visits here.

    As for the farm itself, I love visiting it, especially to see the tulips! The animals here today are, I am sure, far happier than the ones pictured from the past, and I know that children love seeing them (I do, too!)

    Thank you, Miles!

  2. Pamela Stevens

    Miles, I enjoyed this report as I have many others. One aspect of your photos is always fun to see—Song Sparrows are nearly always pictured singing and have their beaks wide open. It is always enjoyable to me to see them doing what they are specially known for so happily.

    Thanks, Pam am Stevens


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