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The Quarry

Page history last edited by Mireille 8 years, 11 months ago

 Weston Family Quarry Garden




It is estimated that 80% of Canadians live in urban areas surrounded by condominiums, and concrete.  It is not surprising that more and more people want to leave the cities and move to areas in which they can breathe.

The Don Valley Brick Works Quarry now the Weston Family Quarry Garden is a 16.5 hectare (40 acres) area transformed into a thriving green space managed by Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation.

easily accessible by bike or by foot from the Beltline Trail.




The Don Valley Brick Works Quarry to the Weston Family Quarry Garden









Reference:   B&W Quarry 1920's









    Photo Credit:  Beverley Auburn


    Photo Credit:  Beverley Auburn



The Quarry Timeline


  • mining in the Quarry ceased 
  • Torvalley Associates, a development company, bought the entire site (quarry & industrial pad). 
  • the plan, develop a housing development with the help of East York council for allowing it to be re-zoned as residential site
  • Scotia Plaza construction started.
  • land fill produced during excavation was used to fill the Quarry, in preparation for development
  • one of Evergreen's earliest projects was to lead tree-planting activities in the Lower Don Watershed 
  • regeneration of the Quarry began with significant financial donation from West Family Trust
  • the site re-opened as a city park,
  • now called the Weston Family Quarry Gardens
  • Evergreen helped plant the wildflower meadows  
  • the Garden Group  meets twice a week to join in the planting of native species, caring of the plantings and removing inveaive plants


Source:  Feedback from Bev A. 'Tour Guide Volunteer and Welcome Desk Host' Sunday, Dec 02, 2012



The Landfill - Scotia Plaza





Restoration of the Quarry 




Map Reference


  • in 1990 the City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) raised approximately $6 million dollars to restore the site's quarry as a park and natural area for wildlife.
  • In 1995 the Restoration on the quarry began 
  • The park section of the Brick Works includes a series of three ponds, a large meadow and a small forest.
  • During the excavation of the quarry, one of the lost rivers called Mud Creek was discovered.   
    • Mud Creek was diverted into the Park to flow through a series of ponds (1) where the water is cleaned naturally before being returned to the Don River. 
  • in 2002, recognized by the province as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest.
  • Opened in 1996, the park is managed by Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation, and worth a visit in any season.






  1. Cat O’Ninetails


Evergreen's Native Plant Database 



The North Slope

  • The North Slope (2) of the old Brick Works quarry is recognized internationally as one of the five most important geological sites in North America.
  • In the 1890’s the workers, while digging for shale, noticed fossils in the ground leading to an important discovery by A.P. Coleman, a geologist & UofT professor
  • In the North face of the quarry there is evidence of 2 ice ages -- with the Interglacial layer preserved
  • This is highly unusual –interglacial deposits would normally be obliterated by 2nd ice age
  • The fossils were discovered in the layer between the ice ages that suggested there were 2 ice ages with Interglacial layer presered
  • it is to be maintained for geological education, research and heritage interpretation; active management to encourage vegetation communities is not planned.



Toronto's Ice Age


See Articles:



Credit:  http://torontoist.com/2012/03/prehistoric-toronto-glacial-lake-iroquois/


The blue border shows the outline of the lakes today.

The colour shapes with the wavy lines show the glacial lakes as they were 12,000 years ago.




As the last Ice Age glacier retreated from above Toronto, its meltwater, for a time, overwhelmed the city.

By Daniel Sellers• Illustration by Chloe Cushman


A brave creature crawls across a primeval seafloor that will one day be Toronto.

By Daniel Sellers• Illustration by Chloe Cushman


All manner of fantastical creature populated the Earth for 450 million years between the mid-Paleozoic and late-Cenozoic eras. Unfortunately, placing any of them in Toronto is simply impossible.

By Daniel Sellers• Illustration by Chloe Cushman


Throughout the world, the Pleistocene epoch was known for its giant mammals. Toronto was no exception.

By Daniel Sellers• Illustrations by Chloe Cushman


The 1976 discovery of a unique fossil below west-end Bloor Street tells us that an extinct and little-known deer once called Toronto home.

By Daniel Sellers• Illustration by Chloe Cushman





A.P. Coleman  (Arthur Philemon Coleman)

  •  Geologist, Explorer (1852 – 1939) – Science, Art & Discovery
  •  was appointed Director of the Museum of Geology in 1913 to join five other museums, Archaeology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology which came to be known as the Royal Ontario Museum.
  • Dr. Coleman is considered one of Canada’s pre-eminent geologists who during his long career in the earth sciences travelled to all the continents and sea-to-sea in Canada in his insatiable search for a better understanding of earth’s history and evolution. 
  • Awarded many titles and medals during his long career he was most proud of having a mountain, Mount Coleman in British Columbia, named in his honour.
  •  in 1913, the Ontario Department of Mines published Dr. A.P. Coleman's “Map of Toronto and Vicinity” the first comprehensive geological map of Toronto (  A geological map is essentially a birds-eye view of, in the case of the Toronto, the types of sediments found and their distribution through the area. Geological maps are keys to communicating earth science information and their use is fundamental to land-use planning.
  • 1893 quarry workers brought to the attention of A.P. Coleman fossils in they had discovered in the quarry.
  • Coleman discovered and documented evidence of two periods of glaciation, with a rich deposit of warmer-climate fossils in between called the interglacial layer.
  • the geological significance of the North Slope was one of the reasons the site was spared from condiminium development in the late 1980's 


Geology Cistern

    • Quarry Photo 1920


  • Fossils in the layer between ice ages told Coleman that the climate during that period was much warmer than today’s
  • This evidence supported the idea of cyclic changes of climate
  • The cistern has a reproduction of pages from his notebook – shows what fossils told him about Climate Change & Extinct Species of vegetation and animals – including giant beaver (4x current size) and mammoth
  • If you explore the rest of the site, keep your eyes open for one of our artworks – you may find Coleman’s Boot




Archival Photos on Back Wall

1. QUARRY PHOTO – 1920s

    • Depth of quarry about 120 ft
    • In 1994 the first steps in the restoration began with infilling the quarry
    • Filled with landfill from when the Scotia Plaza was being built
    • Weston Quarry Gardens opened in 1997

2. SKYLINE OF TORONTO – List of Major Buildings

    • Great Fire of 1904 resulted in much of downtown Toronto being destroyed
    • New building codes mandated masonry construction
    • resulted in a boom in brick production
    • By 1907 this was the largest brick factory on the continent






  1. Don Valley Brick Works Geology - North Slope
  2. Online A.P. Coleman Exhibition  



Toronto Park People - www.parkpeople.ca 










1.   Geography



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