Hundreds of urban paddlers to travel Toronto river
This weekend, Toronto’s usually quiet Don River will teem with canoes and kayaks, as 600 urban voyageurs follow its route from a suburban park down to Lake Ontario.
Now a well-established spring ritual, the 19th annual Manulife Paddle the Don event provides a once-a-year opportunity for people to navigate 10.5 kilometres of this often-overlooked urban waterway. The Don is usually too shallow for canoeing, but for the May 6 event, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority opens a nearby dam, making it navigable. The route runs from Ernest Thompson Seton Park in Don Mills, Ontario, all the way to the river’s mouth river at the Keating Channel in Toronto Harbour. At the take-out point, paddlers will celebrate with a barbeque and live music
These 10 kilometers of the Don are surprisingly varied. The upper reaches are pastoral, with lush vegetation and many native birds; this gives way to several sections with sharp turns and class II rapids. Toward the mouth, the river passes under the massive Bloor Street viaduct, then the elevated, six-lane Gardiner Expressway.
Organized by the TRCA and The Living City Foundation, with the support of the Wilderness Canoe Association and the Don Watershed Regeneration Council, the event raises awareness about the importance of healthy rivers. It also raises funds to support regeneration projects on the Don watershed. Since the pledge program began in 2002, corporate teams and individual paddlers have raised almost $400,000.
Prominent participants for 2012 include two federal MPs, three provincial MPPs, half-a-dozen Toronto city councilors and a team from Outdoor Canada (who will also be scouting for urban angling opportunities.) Check back next week for updates and photos.