A Visit to Rouge National Urban Park


Stewart Goes Walkies is pleased to have another contribution from our old friend Allen. As mentioned previously, Allen lives in Toronto and is fortunate to have access to some of the most beautiful walks in the country. He relates his adventures on one of those walks.

The weather in Toronto is definitely more like summer (writes Allen). The temperature is going up to the 30s. And it’s just beautiful being outside.

I promised my buddy, Stewart, to write something about my trip to the Middle East (which we are really looking forward to – SGW). But, as I started putting things together, I then realized there’s so much more than the photos I took. I have to thank Stewart for encouraging me to record my journeys, as it helps me to do more research into places that I visited.

Before that, maybe I can share a half-day hike in my backyard – Rouge National Urban Park.  I don’t really like hiking in Toronto, as there are no mountains. When you hike in the woods, every corner you turn, you see the same thing –  trees, leaves, and more trees. But Rouge Park is different.

It’s only a five-minute drive from my condo. Yet it’s the largest Urban Park in North America. To give a comparison. When fully established, the park will span 79.1 square kilometers, whereas HK island, where Stewart is based, is 78.6 sq. kilometers. It has the highest point in Toronto. On a good day, some said we might even look across Lake Ontario and see Rochester on the US side.

Rouge National Urban Park
The Visitors Centre
Bear-proof rubbish bins

The human history of the Rouge National Urban Park goes back over 10,000 years. This includes Palaeolithic nomadic hunters, Iroquoian farmers, and early European explorers. It was once an important trading place as the Rouge River, which runs along with it, offered a trade route for fur, and timber.

As its an urban park it has multiple entrances. I will not be able to tell you what public transport to take, as here in Toronto, we drive everywhere. I might take public transport once every few years just for the fun of it.

Today, I started at the Park Visitor Centre, which is opposite the Toronto Zoo. My aim was to walk up the little hill behind it. As I hate rules, I ventured out into the woods and explored. As you can see, once in the woods, the scene is more or less the same. Nonetheless, with the sun, the shade of green is still stunning to watch.

I traveled along the Rouge River a bit. That reminded me of another trip. When I first came to Canada, I went out fishing as I was told that salmon fishing is exciting. With my basic gear, a fishing rod, and bait. I walked along this same stretch of river.



Turtles sunbathing
Salmon Fishing

Every year, there are two seasons when the salmon swim upstream to lay their eggs. During that time, tens of thousands of salmon fill the river. I was in luck, a kilometer downstream, I hooked a beautiful salmon. That was probably the only luck I had that day.

It was a battle, after maybe 20 minutes, the salmon gave up and accepted its fate. Then I had my first problem. I was not in my waders, and I didn’t have a fish net. The river bank was two feet above the water and the line wasn’t strong enough to bear the weight of the fish if I tried to haul it up. Decision made, I jumped into the river and carried the fish to shore.

Now I had problem number two. I was one kilometer away from my car. I didn’t even have a backpack, so I have to cradle the 30 lbs. fish, all wet, and walk back.

Oh, the stink. My clothes, my car, and the smell lingered for ages.  Proudly, I called my friend to report the good news. And he told me calmly, that a fish of that size from the area I was at was not edible because of pollution. (Now the situation is better, but 30+ years ago. It was bad.)  So I now had problem number 3, I had to dig a 3x2x4 ft hole in my backyard to bury the fish.

That was the last time I went river fishing.

Beare Hill

Today, there is a clear blue sky but a very strong wind. Walking up Beare Hill. There’s an occasional foul smell. It’s because this hill is actually a garbage dump, a landfill.

Some genius back in the 70s thought it’s would be an excellent idea to build a ski hill using a garbage dump. The garbage was dumped, but the ski hill never happen. Later the Park took over and skiing, hang gliding, alpine slide, and go-carting were scrapped. The landfill continues to produce methane gas as the refuse rots below the surface. A private company installed a series of gas wells and pipes to collect it and constructed a generating plant to convert methane gas to natural gas into electricity.


The Methane Plant



Allen on the top of Beare Hill. The strength of the wind is evident in the grass and scudding clouds


Once on top, I had a clear view of the area. I could see the high rises where I live, the Pickering Nuclear plant, and Lake Ontario. And looking north, I could see all the farmland. The real estate prices went up like crazy during the last couple of years. I can understand that happening in Hong Kong, but here? knock, knock, anybody home?


Pickering Nuclear Plant and high rises in the distance


Farmlands to the North


Lunch Break
The perfect spot for a quiet lunch


Bees busy at work


One of the local residents

It was too windy to stay, so I hurried back to my favourite pond to have a quick lunch. It was nice and quiet here. As I was looking at my lunch, I remember what Stewart mentioned a couple of times, avoid using disposable water bottles. Some might still think I recycle every single bottle I use. You might have done your part, but don’t feel good about it. I google-searched some info about disposable water bottle recycle rates, the result came back 12 to 20 %. That means for whatever reason that for every 6 bottles sold, 5 ended up in the landfill or the ocean.

(Stewart Goes Walkies is grateful to Allen and all our readers who comply with our request to use reusable water bottles).




So enough for the day. Unlike Stewart’s walks, where there’s always a tea house to quench your thirst, here I have to drive home as it is against the law to drink alcohol in public.

Enjoy the summer, and as Stewart says, stay safe and stay sane.

Once again Stewart Goes Walkies is grateful to Allen for this report on Rouge Park and especially, his reminiscences about salmon fishing. Smoked salmon will never taste the same again.

Thank you for visiting stewartgoeswalkies. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please feel free to leave a comment and, if you would like us to publish an adventure of yours, you can send it to stewartgoeswalkies@gmail.com

Help us to make a commitment to the reduction of plastics in our environment. Don’t buy drinking water in plastic bottles when it’s easy to bring it from home. Let’s work together to save the planet.





Published by stewartgoeswalkies

Happily married man to a wonderful lady. Living in Hong Kong. In my younger days I enjoyed hiking, camping and rock climbing. I've trekked in the Himalayas and climbed Mt. Kinabalu in East Malaysia.

Thanks for visiting, please leave a comment.

%d bloggers like this: