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The surprising James Gardens by Humber River

Updated: Jan 24, 2023



WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? A pretty walk to admire fall colours in James Gardens + an off-the-beaten track access to the Humber River Trail.


I love exploring Toronto's rivers and finding different ways to access to them.


Last time I visited James Gardens, in the spring, I located a little bakery I didn't know about, in a residential area, only 250 meters from an entrance to the Humber River Trail. Google Map confirmed that James Gardens was only a 20 minute walk from Jadranka Pastries (257 Scarlett Rd). So I made the bakery my starting point in order to do a 40-min stroll. I easily found free parking in the streets surrounding the pastry shop.


Those who look for a shorter walk will be pleased to know that there is ample free parking at James Gardens (99 Edenbridge Drive, Etobicoke).


Starting point


Jadranka Pastries is small (three steps in and you reach the counter). Several names of cakes suggest that they are specialties coming from an old European country. Bohem, Shamponez, Dobosh... Think cupcakes with full butter icing... They also serve coffee.


Weather allowing, tables outside welcome visitors in front of the pastry shop. The view is not bad, as the cement blocks on the bike path on Scarlett Rd were painted by artists, and the mature trees on the other side of the street create a natural wall.


You never know what story lies behind a small business! Following my visit, I learned that the owner's grandparents, Nikola and Zora, had a popular pastry shop in Sarajevo, in the former Yugoslavia. In 1992, when the war in Bosnia broke out, the pastry shop was forced to close and flee after 36 years.


In 2004, Jadranka Pastries opened its doors in its new country, Canada. And in 2007, the family celebrated the reopening of Jadranka Pastries by Nikola's son Aleksandar (back from Canada) at the original location of the business (in Sarajevo's Grbavica neighborhood).



Humber River


I ordered some pastries to eat on a bench by the river. Note that my pictures were taken last spring and during the previous fall season but it will give you an idea.

From the bakery, walk north on Scarlett Rd. Just over the bridge is a trail (Humber River Recreational Trail) that leads down to the west side of the Humber River. Follow the water as it flows towards Lake Ontario.


You can walk as long as you like along this trail. Between Scarlett Street and the Edenbridge tennis courts, 500 meters further on, there are several benches to rest. There might even be a portable toilet in front of the tennis courts.




James Gardens is 1 km from the Scarlett Street Bridge. Walk one km further and you’ll reach the mature forest of Lambton Woods, offering a completely different environment. Five more minutes, you’ll pass under the CN bridge, high up in the tall trees. An amazing sight.


If you choose to cross the pedestrian bridge, you will continue the walk on the east side of the river and pass under the Dundas Street West Bridge. (You are here 1.75 km from James Gardens and 2.75 km from Scarlett Rd.)


Past that, a half-hour walk away, awaits Etienne-Brûlé Park.



James Gardens


The trees should currently be in full fall regalia at James Gardens at this time of the year. I really like this place, packed with so many nooks and crannies.


Its pond near the parking lot is very popular with ducks. A smaller one, hidden among the trees, has a Japanese feel to it. Climbing planters on wooden arches further in the back usually Instagrammable destination!





In the western part of the gardens, a path lined with large stones with a 1950s look leads up to the old James family mansion at the top of the cliff. It now serves as a community centre.




While you're there


Good to know on your way back. A block away from Javranka Pastries is Scarlett Gardens & Florist (271 Scarlett Rd). The place is bigger than it looks at first glance. It extends to the back. They sell plants, shrubs, herbs and vegetables and display a wide range of seasonal offers.


Last spring, it was a fun way to end this nature outing. I'm sure their fall season comes with very original offerings.





This post is a complement to local author Nathalie Prézeau's latest walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls available in Toronto’s major bookstores, on torontourbangems.com/shop and amazon.ca or indigo.ca. We also deliver or contact the author directly at nathalie@torontourbangems.com to arrange for a pick up with a discount at 299 Booth Avenue, in Leslieville.







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