Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Humber River in Etobicoke

The third time's the charm! Taking a kayak out for a single paddle might have been just a whim, but taking it on a plane trip and using it three times apparently makes me a hardcore kayaker. At least, my sister-in-law thinks I am. And that's really what counts.
This outing, I had the kayak in downtown Toronto after a gorgeous day paddling in the Toronto Islands (three hours and fourteen GLORIOUS nights). I had taken it back to the mainland on the ferry, then on the streetcar to the Merril Collection of Science Fiction in the Lillian Smith branch of Toronto Public Library. Lorna Toolis, librarian, let me leave the kayak in her office overnight, so I could go to a reading and a friend's house without schlepping it around.
In the morning, I returned to her office and traded my little daypack & walking stick for the kayak, then trundled it onto the streetcar and the Bloor-Yonge subway. Off at Old Mill station, up a *very* long flight of stairs.
A few days earlier, I had noticed this river valley under the station looked like a park and checked out some online listings that said it was a good paddling destination. The Humber River is indeed a good flatwater paddle, through King's Mill Park to Lake Ontario, by all reports.
It's only a block or two to the water from Old Mill station, all downhill. I found sufficient trees at the riverbank to let me change into merino wool paddling gear (the weather was much too warm for neoprene!). This time I strapped all my gear onto the front deck and put the roller inside under my legs and it felt more balanced than the day before, when some gear was on the back deck.
The river was calm, and just as grey-green as the New Credit. I drifted downstream past the Humber River Yacht club, and made friends with a large swan who contested with several Canada geese for bread being scattered by a regular park visitor. So good to be the boat on the water, as cars went by on the bridge overhead, and subway trains roared past on their own bridge.
It wasn't a challenging paddle. But it was a relaxing one, with kingfishers and swallows swooping around, and just enough rain sprinkling to keep the whole outing quiet and private. Going upstream was no effort, and it was nice to see the houses on the high bluffs from the opposite angle now, and to follow the bends back to the old mill and the pedestrian stone bridge.
Went ashore, got changed and packed up with a family of geese staring at me warily.
I even towed the kayak uphill to the station without any problems, though I did make two cars swerve around me on the quiet residential street. A total of five people that day pointed at the kayak bag, and said, "Golfing?"
Nice to take a break from the big city skyscrapers, and just drift like that.


  1. Nice commando paddlin', Paula!

  2. Yeah.. good work out there.. One day we'll have to do a big caravan out to the thousand islands for a little paddling extravaganza. Weather's been good here too, almost too hot for neoprene! I'm glad you've gotten out so much for a mostly work related trip.

  3. Did you happen to notice if there is still a marina on the east bank of the Humber but well south of the Humber River Yacht Club? My wife and I used to rent a canoe there and paddle upstream to the HRYC, tie up for ice cream or cold root beer on their patio and then paddle back to the marina or further upstream to some kind of filtration plant and then back.