Rowntree Mills Park – “Toronto’s Saddest Park”: Dec. 2020

From a Toronto Star article in 2013:

At first glance Rowntree Mills Park seems like a fantastic green space in the Humber River Valley between Kipling and Islington Aves., just south of the Vaughan-Toronto border. The paved trail here meanders all the way to Lake Ontario along the river.

It should be an active hub, but in 2009 the local city councillor, Giorgio Mammoliti, had the park gates closed to cars, due to criminal activity and loud, rowdy parties where people would trash the park.

Closing Rowntree to cars has turned a once-busy place into a nearly deserted expanse of grass and forests. In the midday sun, the empty parking lots and unused picnic tables have a spooky, too-quiet feeling, though many people live nearby.

The park is still closed to automobile traffic twelve years later but one is able to walk in to this lovely natural area.

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Deer print

Some botany:

Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora)
Butternut (Juglans cinerea)
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
Manitoba Maple (Acer negundo)
Manitoba Maple (Acer negundo)
Evening Primrose (Oenothera)
Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)
Cow-parsnip (Heracleum maximum)
Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia)
Canada Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis)
Silver Maple (Acer sachharinum)
Basswood (Tilia americana)


The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! – Wordsworth

Miles Hearn

3 thoughts on “Rowntree Mills Park – “Toronto’s Saddest Park”: Dec. 2020

  1. Lisa Volkov

    What an interesting place! Personally, I’m in favour of car free park-ing–but that’s easy for me to say, I don’t drive! Thanks, Miles!

  2. Neil Mcdonald

    I’ve worked for years in the area and my wife and I still enjoy our walks there, but, as mentioned it’s a shame that the ban on parking there in the three huge empty parking lots still exist even though the previous corrupt councillor Giorgio Mamolitti has retired. He used to campaign with his local Italian community promising to make this park only for the immediate residents. There is still one small lot at the south end which holds about 20 cars. It’s a lovely park but despite the City of Toronto’s claim to park inclusiveness it is still truly not. It is embarrassingly exclusive. Beware that if you do park on a nearby neighbourhood road and walk in you will be ticketed. All part of the sad situation there.

  3. Joseph

    Wow, what a gem. We live in Muskoka and discovered this park recently. Could not believe how deserted this place was. Then I read the above about the lots being closed.
    Can not believe the city has not opened it up. What a crying shame. What a bureaucracy!


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