Updated: Jan 2
WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? Three good reasons to get out of the house: Fairy doors + hidden ravine + breakfast sandwich in the east part of town.
(Note: This courtesy self-guided tour is not included in the 26 urban strolls and 52 mini-walks in the author's Toronto guide.)
Following my fun stroll around Seaton Village, I set out to continue my search for fairy houses, as listed on the Fairy Door Map recently mentioned in blogTO. There seemed to be a cluster around the lovely East Lynn Park in the East Danforth neighbourhood. That was all it took for me to start exploring the neighbourhood.
I scored! Along the way, I discovered a hidden ravine and two cafés I did not know about.
West side of East Lynn Park
East Lynn Park is, in my opinion, one of the 10 nicest parks in Toronto. Its unique topography offers a nice descent to a quiet glen, where there is a wading pool and playground, away from the clamour of Danforth Avenue. Free street parking is easily available all around and the Woodbine subway station is 300 meters from the park (on Woodbine, north of Danforth).
Walk along the west side of the park, then turn right onto Merrill Avenue W. At the intersection of Roseheath, you'll find a stately tree, home to five fairy houses, facing a collection of cottages all lined up on a fence. A great start to this whimsical stroll!
Going south on Roseheath, turn left on Copeland Ave, then right on the small dead end W Lynn Ave. In front of you, a wall of greenery. At your feet, a dirt path. You are now at the entrance to a true urban oasis.
Merrill Bridge Road Park
The path circles the small hidden ravine of Merrill Bridge Road Park, a cool refuge in the middle of a heat wave. If you take the path to the right, you will pass the backyards of the houses on Copeland. One of them is particularly noteworthy, with its wood carvings and plexiglass panels featuring an inspirational quote from Rumi: Let the beauty of what we love be what we do.
The path turns to a wooden staircase that leads to the other side of the ravine. We were there the day after a rain fall and the trail was pretty muddy, but surrounded by a luscious undergrowth. A small stream runs through it. From a boardwalk, two sets of stairs allow us to either return to our starting point, to the left, or to continue towards a beautiful off-leash dog park.
You'll notice wooden butterflies, and then some artwork hanging on the fence of the Merrill Dog Park. A few benches on the north side provide a place to rest while watching the happy pooches frolic.
Hard to remember we are in Canada’s biggest city! This charming little nook has a country feel to it. On a large tree in front of the first house on Aldergrove Avenue, you will find birdhouses and a fairy door. Continue east on Aldergrove until you reach the stairs leading to Woodbine. Go south down the avenue to Gerrard, then cross east to the cute independent café.
Morning Parade Coffee Bar
Morning Parade Coffee Bar (1952 East Gerrard Street) is open from 8 am to 3 pm Monday and Tuesday, 8 am to 4 pm Wednesday through Friday, 9 am to 4 pm Saturday, and 9 am to 3 pm Sunday. The entrance is beautifully decorated with colourful faces. Two city benches are placed nearby.
Their coffee is excellent and I ordered a delectable breakfast-sandwich composed of a thin light omelet, nice pink ham and melted cheese as creamy as a béchamel. Yum!
East side of East Lynn Park
After this foodie pause, walk up Woodbine on the east side and climb the stairs past the viaduc. It leads to Oakcrest Avenue.
You'll notice a small and discreet fairy door right before Cedarvale Avenue. As I was taking a picture of it, the owner of the house, who was coming up the sidewalk with his little girl, asked me why I was photographing his property. When I told him it was the fairy door I was interested in, as featured on the Fairy Doors Map. He wasn’t aware of the map and was delighted by the news.
A little further on, turn left on Iona Avenue, then left on Keystone Avenue. There you will find a little fairy estate with plenty of details to discover.
Turn north on Cedarvale to Poured Coffee, where is hidden the last fairy door on my tour (look in the herb bin!).
While you're there
The breezy Poured Coffee (2165 Danforth Avenue, open 7 am to 7 pm) is a BYOC cafe (Bring Your Own Cup), where you have to bring your own container. They make some pretty appetizing "mocktails" and sell interesting snacks. They are also home to the Re Place, which is very well stocked with all kinds of eco-friendly gadgets, making it a good place to find last-minute gifts.
As I finished the walk west along Danforth, I noticed other social-conscious businesses. The Value Village with its little garden, the Right Side boutique advertising itself as "Cruelty-Free, Sweatshop-Free, Slow Fashion".
A little further on, on the north side, The parent-friendly Workaround, where you can rent community office space, includes a daycare service. Around East Lynn Park, the bike paths are embellished with colourful sections. In short, they do things right in this part of town!
By the way, Carter's Ice Cream (3 Woodmount Avenue, on the north side of Danforth) is now open from noon to 10 pm. Now that's a great way to start the summer!
Nathalie Prézeau is the 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.