Tuesday, October 13, 2009

North Creek

North Creek, originally drained a large area of south Etobicoke, flowing in a southeasterly direction to Lake Ontario from its headwaters near the interchange of present day Gardiner Expressway and Highway 427.

North Creek flowing through north Long Branch 1952 - Toronto Reference Library

Most of the creek was placed in a sewer sometime after 1958, following four years of complaints, as chronicled in the Advertiser, by residents that industry was dumping waste in the creek. At a Long Branch Council meeting in 1954, Councillor Maurice Breen openly admitted that this was a problem, but explained that the local sewage plant was already overloaded, and that the city ‘cannot allow the industries to send their huge quantities of water through the plant so at present they have no alternative but to deposit some liquid waste in the creek.’ After repeated calls for action from local council, the Etobicoke-Mimico Conservation Authority commissioned a report to place the creek in a sewer through Long Branch.

North Creek flowing through Laburnham Park - looking south east, 2008 © Michael Harrison 2009

Today it disappears into a sewer just south of Laburnham Park, popping up on the Hospital Grounds at the foot of Kipling Avenue.
Even though it has now been hijacked as a storm water system for the Hospital Grounds, the flow is relatively constant, providing an important habitat for migrant birds like warblers, resident birds like black-crowned night herons and other wildlife including foxes and beavers.
Map of North and Jackson Creeks as they flow across the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, Department of Public Works, 1936

On the Hospital Grounds, the creek is separated into two distinct portions: the northerly portion just south of Lake Shore Blvd. West flows intermittently through a man-made channel completed around 1930, while the southerly part of the creek, the most natural portion of the watercourse, flows through its original ravine, retaining much of its tree cover as it flows into Colonel Samuel Smith Park (created in the 1980s through lake-filling).

North Creek - northerly portion north of Father John Redmond High School - looking south, 2008. © Michael Harrison 2009

North Creek - southerly portion east of Power House looking north, 2008 © Michael Harrison 2009


  1. So interesting..please keep the local history comming I beg you. Do you have any history on the long branch area?

  2. Also, if you look at the hospital grounds map, it is interesting to point out that there was a residence by the mouth of north creek, I think it's under number 25 on the legend. If you go to the present area today you will notice there is a set of stairs there now. Those grounds were my playground during my childhood days, I always wondered about those stairs.. Now I know! Do you have any idea who lived there,

  3. Thanks for the questions. In regard to the history of the Long Branch area there are several books that contain historical information on Long Branch. They include "The Villages of South Etobicoke" and "Etobicoke Remembered". In addition I know that the retired librarian from the Long Branch Public Library and researching material for a book on Long Branch. There is also a Long Branch Historical Society. Their contact email is: longbranchhistorical@gmail.com

    On the second question I do have some information in a report on the Hospital Grounds but need to dig it up. The house was there until sometime in the mid 1980s when someone burned it down.

  4. The house next to North Creek just north of the former Lake Ontario shoreline (before the filling that occurred to create Colonel Samuel Smith Park) was called the Lake House. I think that one of the staff lived there but as mentioned above it burned down in the late 1980s.