Updated: Jan 2, 2022
Initially, this post was meant to simply introduce you to Duo Pâtisserie. But in my search for an interesting walk in the area, I discovered (and loved) German Mills Meadows and Nature Habitat, just north of Steeles Avenue, Toronto's border. (Note: This courtesy self-guided tour is not included in the 26 urban strolls and 52 mini-walks in the author's Toronto guide.)
First things first
Duo Patisserie (230 Commerce Valley Drive, #4, Thornhill) is my foodie friend's favourite destination. You have to know that in his childhood, he ate hot croissants straight from the oven every morning, made by his father, a French baker. He loves Duo so much that he once took an Uber with a partner in crime to get there from downtown Toronto (a 30-min drive).
How can such a small place can produce so many varieties of pastries? They also make ham and cheese croissants, cakes, chocolates, cookies, madeleines, jams.
Duo Patisserie sits southwest of highways 404 and 7, in the heart of a commercial area. The café normally has a few small tables for eating in but they currently do take-out. And they have a special queue for pick-ups.
Like all good pastry shops these days, the waiting line is long. So it's wise to order by phone a few days before your trip. They post pictures of their delectable creations on their website (but no prices).
Access to German Mills Meadow
The large meadow is located in the middle of Markham's German Mills Settlers Park. It can be accessed from John Street, but it's much nicer to get there from the south. From Highway 404, you will exit onto Steeles west and take Leslie Street north.
You can park for free on the street at the very end of Leslie, where you will notice a dirt path straight ahead. From there to John Street, it extends over 1 km through a beautiful meadow with a wide open sky like you rarely see in Toronto parks.
You are in the middle of an excellent example of nature restoration.
Between 1940 and 1960, the site was a gravel pit. When it ran out, it was converted to a landfill for unlisted substances (!) from 1960 to 1975. The Town of Markham purchased the land in 1983 and proceeded to redevelop it to its current state.
Past the bucolic hill with tall grass, there are two options at John Street. One can walk along the sidewalk to join the paved path on the east side of the large creek. Or, my favorite option, you can take the small dirt trail just south of John, which follows closely the west bank of the creek.
Duncan Woods Creek nicely meanders its way through the park, offering beautiful views at every turn: small creeks, tall trees and bushes, undergrowth flowers, small marshes, and even... a brightly coloured birdhouse, reminiscent of German half-timbered houses.
All in all, a perfect little 2.2 km walk to combine with your decadent stop at Duo. If you want to walk more, go down Leslie Street to Steeles (.6 km below) and cross to join the Duncan Creek Trail. It reaches the Don River 1.8 km further south, and then continues for miles.
This post is a May stroll by Nathalie Prézeau, author of the walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls which you can get on amazon.ca or by contacting the author directly: email@example.com. You can pick up the book at 299 Booth Avenue, the author delivers in Toronto and Canada Post takes care of the other destinations.