This content is from a series created in partnership with Museum Services of the City of Toronto and Heritage Toronto. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the Department of Canadian Heritage.
Toronto Feature: Highland Creek
"Highland Creek: Toronto's River?"
David Thomson was the head stonemason for the construction of the new parliament buildings near the marshy lands of the Don in the town of York. When he needed a healthier place to reside with his wife, he chose the beautiful valley of Highland Creek in Scarborough, where he was the first settler.
David and Mary Thomson followed an Aboriginal trail (now part of Danforth Road) to Scarborough and in 1799, they petitioned for, and were granted, the plot of land that now extends between the Scarborough Museum and St Andrew's Church in Thomson Memorial Park. A walk from the museum to the church includes crossing a tributary of Highland Creek.
The Highland is an urban creek with more than 85 kilometres of watercourses draining an area of 102 km2. It would be a good candidate for the title of "Toronto's River." While the Don River and watershed are top of Torontonians' minds, 95% of Highland Creek's watershed lies within the city. By contrast, only 58% of the Don watershed lies within the city.
Only 0.5% of Highland's original wetlands remain due to the pressures of urbanization. Nevertheless, remnant forests, wetlands and meadows provide habitat for a range of wildlife. There is also a long history of Aboriginal settlement, represented by the Tabor Hill Ossuary, which was found in 1956, and similar locations.