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Rouge Park


Rouge Park

Rouge Park
Type Urban park
Location Toronto and Pickering, Ontario
Area 12,356 acres (5,000 ha)
Created 1995
Operated by Rouge Park website
Status Open all year

Rouge Park is a park located in the Rouge River watershed, along the border of Toronto and Pickering, Ontario, Canada. Efforts are underway to make it Canada's first national park within an urban area.[1] The lands now in the park were once home to resorts and cottages from the late 19th century to the 1950s.


  • Overview 1
  • Biodiversity 2
  • Parks 3
  • Golf Courses 4
  • Waterways 5
  • Glaciation 6
  • Historical Importance 7
    • Toronto Carrying Place 7.1
  • Bead Hill 8
    • Geological Study 8.1
  • Places of Interest 9
    • Celebration Forest 9.1
    • Glen Rouge Campground 9.2
    • Glen Eagles Vista 9.3
    • Rouge Beach 9.4
  • Rouge Valley Conservation Centre 10
    • Toronto Zoo 10.1
    • Twyn Rivers area 10.2
    • Woodview Drive 10.3
    • Bob Hunter Memorial Park 10.4
  • Channel Enlargement 11
  • Rouge Park Award 12
  • Threats 13
  • See also 14
  • References 15
  • External links 16


Established in 1995 by the Province of Ontario, the park consists of 50 square kilometres (12,356 acres) of parkland, in Toronto, Pickering, Markham and Stouffville. The park protects 12% of the Rouge River watershed, with park lands also protecting small parts of the Petticoat Creek and Duffins Creek watershed, to the East. The Rouge River remains the healthiest river that flows through Toronto. Ecological preservation and restoration were needed. Preservation of near-urban agriculture is the park's main objective, though a recent decision to end leases for over 700 acres (2.8 km2) of farmland has generated considerable controversy.

Rouge is the largest nature park within a core of a metropolitan area in North America. It stretches from Lake Ontario in the south, north to the post-glacial Oak Ridges Moraine in York Region.

The park is open with free admission to visitors year-round. Camping fees at seasonal campground apply. There are 12 km of rustic hiking trails in the Toronto part of the park. In Toronto, the park is accessible by public transport by TTC buses, and GO transit trains and buses.

The Rouge Valley in the southern portion near Lake Ontario rises to 100m, but at the source the river valley rises to under 300m in height.


Canada Goose

The park has:

  • 762 plant species, including 6 which are nationally rare and 92 which are regionally rare.
  • 225 bird species, 5 of which are nationally rare breeding birds and 4 other breeding birds of special concern as well as numerous locally rare, area-sensitive raptor and colonial birds
  • 55 fish species, 2 of which are nationally vulnerable
  • 27 mammal species, some are locally rare
  • 19 reptile and amphibian species, some are locally rare


Milne Park
Toogood Pond

With the exception of the southeastern and southern sections of the park, the remaining parts of Rouge Park are located within the agriculture belt in York Region and parts of northeastern Toronto.

A list of formal parks located within the Rouge Park system:

  • Bruce's Mill Conservation Area, Whitchurch-Stouffville, Ontario
  • Phyllis Rawlinson Park, Richmond Hill, Ontario
  • Toogood Pond, suburban park in the City of Markham, Ontario
  • Milne Park, suburban park in the City of Markham, Ontario
  • Glen Rouge Park, urban natural park in Toronto
  • Rouge Beach Park, urban park and beach in Toronto
  • Bob Hunter Memorial Park, suburban park in the City of Markham

Golf Courses

There are three golf courses that have the Rouge running through it:

  • Parkview Golf Course, Markam - Remington Homes owned course formerly part of IBM Canada Golf Course (opened 1960)
  • Markham Green Golf Course, Markam - formerly part of IBM Canada Golf Course (c. 1960) and Box Grove Golf Club (c. 1940s)
  • Cedar Brae Golf and Country Club, Toronto (opened 1954)

Brookside Golf Course at Staines Road and Steeles Avenue East is now the residential development called Brookside Village.

Unionville Golf Centre opened in 1961 and is now Bill Crothers Secondary School.


The Rouge River is protected by Rouge Park
  • Rouge River, Toronto and Markham,
  • Morningside Creek, Toronto and Markham
  • Carleton Creek, Markham
  • Beaver Creek, Richmond Hill
  • Little Rouge Creek, Toronto, Markham and Whitchurch-Stouffville
  • Berczy Creek, Markham


Water from glaciers melting 12,000 years ago formed ancestral Lake Ontario, which covered this entire area. A large ice lobe, roughly 20 metres thick, blocked the lake from draining eastward, leaving water levels high as the lake slowly drained south to what is now the Mississippi River. The ice lobe finally retreated, draining the lake to the St Lawrence River and forming the Great Lakes as we see them today.

Glaciation occurred when average annual temperatures were only 2 - 5 °C lower than present. The small decrease to the former temperatures caused big changes to the landscape. Changes in average annual temperatures now may seem small, but they could cause major changes to the natural environment in the near future.

Historical Importance

The human history of Rouge Park goes back over 10,000 years. Palaeolithic nomadic hunters, Iroquoian farmers, early European explorers, and the multicultural suburban population that one can see around the Park today are all part of this history. Since humans began living in the area of the present Great Lakes-St Lawrence Lowlands in Ontario, many groups of people made the lands and waters now protected in Rouge Park their home. The river and its valleys, uplands, forests and wetlands, along with the animal and plant species that lived here, sustained small nomadic groups, and later on larger, permanent settlements long before the rapid urbanization of the 20th century altered the landscape dramatically.

The park protects two National Historic Sites:

Toronto Carrying Place

This was an original portage route along the Rouge River to the Holland River, linking Lake Ontario in the south to Lake Simcoe to the north.[2] This route was created by First Nations peoples, and later used by early European fur traders, explorers and settlers. The Rouge River route is not currently marked for the general public, but the western branch of the route, following the Humber River, has an official federal plaque. The Toronto Carrying-Place Trail was designated by the Historical Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 1969.

Bead Hill

The Bead Hill archaeological site of an intact 17th century Seneca village was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1991.[3][4] The site includes the remains of an Archaic campsite, dating about 3,000 years old. Minimal excavations have been carried out, and the site includes a naturally protected midden, which is thought to contain a wealth of material. Because of its sensitive archaeological nature, it is not open to the public nor readily identified in the park. Its national historic site designation was prompted by imminent development plans that could have encroached on the area.

Geological Study

Outcrops of rock formed during the last glacial period are found in Rouge Park and are important to geologists studying seismic activity, in particular the risk of earthquakes in the Toronto area. Faults are visible indicating significant earthquake activity between 80,000 and 13,000 years ago.

Places of Interest

Celebration Forest

Across from Twyn Rivers Area, visitors can view the park memorial that honours friends and supporters of Rouge Park, as well as those who contributed to the natural heritage legacy of the area that eventually became protected in the Park. The edge between forest and meadow attracts a variety of plant and animal life.

Glen Rouge Campground

Toronto's only camping spot, the Glen Rouge Campground, is easy to reach from highways and is on the banks of the Rouge River. Hiking trails, a sandy beach and access to other Toronto attractions are close to the campground, which is on the north side of Kingston Road / Highway 2, between Sheppard Avenue East and Altona Road.

Glen Eagles Vista

Glen Eagles Vista is a viewpoint of river valleys and geologic features, including the Rouge River and Little Rouge Creek valleys, a provincially significant geologic feature and meadow species of plants and animals.


  1. 0.6 km long trail
  2. Vista point with outstanding view of river valleys and geologic feature
  3. Short trail with interpretive signs and native vegetation

Rouge Beach

Where the Rouge River meets Lake Ontario, there's a sandy beach and a wetland full of wildlife.


  1. Sandy beach
  2. Swimming (beach is open seasonally in accordance with Toronto Public Health approval and lifeguard on duty when officially open)
  3. View of Lake Ontario and shoreline east to Pickering
  4. Marshes offer wildlife viewing
  5. Paddling (canoeing, kayaking & SUP) on river and in marshes. NO motorized boating permitted.
  6. Fishing access. Seasonal provincial license required.
  7. Easily accessible boardwalk and pathway near marshes
  8. Access to Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail
  9. Close access to Rouge Hill Go Transit station

Rouge Valley Conservation Centre

Rouge Valley Conservation Centre is the park's nature centre and is operated by the non-profit Rouge Valley Foundation. The Centre offers guided walks and environmental education programs in the park, including summer camp programs.

The Centre also works on environmental restoration, monitoring and research in the park and partners with 10,000 Trees for the Rouge Valley and Citizen Scientists (Toronto).

Toronto Zoo

Toronto Zoo is located on the western boundaries of the park in Toronto, but it is not part of the protected area. The zoo's land is controlled by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and is protected from development.

Twyn Rivers area

The remains of an old dam are still visible in the creek. In the 1950s, a hotel in the valley was a popular vacation spot and the river was dammed for swimming. People often skied on the hill on the south side of the creek. Nearby, the remains of old orchards and farms are reminders of former residents in the area.

Woodview Drive

South of Twin Rivers is one of Pickering's premiere residential neighbourhoods, "Woodview Drive," with custom built, deluxe homes backing onto the Rouge Park.

Bob Hunter Memorial Park

The Bob Hunter Memorial Park in Markham was named for the Canadian journalist, environmental activist, and co-founder of Greenpeace. Created under Premier Dalton McGuinty on August 21, 2006,[5] the park added 500 acres to Rouge Park, and is bounded by a rail corridor, Ninth Line to the west, Reesor Road to the east, Highway 407 to the north and Steeles Avenue East to the south.

The park, which is currently in development and scheduled to open in 2015, will feature trails, restored wetland, and replanted native woodland.[6]

Channel Enlargement

The Rouge River watershed, the geographic area where all lands drain into the Rouge River system, is reacting to rapid urbanization and change. Many sections of the watershed are no longer stable and are experiencing channel enlargement, largely due to surface runoff from the impervious surfaces which are the result of urbanization, and the application of engineered technology in an attempt to manage the increased flows.

Rouge Park Award

Each year, the Rouge Park Alliance recognizes members of the community who have made outstanding contributions to the Rouge Park goal, vision and objectives through the Rouge Park Awards.

Its recipients were:

2008 - Ron Christie
2006 - Premier Dalton McGuinty
2004 - Gord Weeden
2003 - David Crombie, former MP and Toronto mayor
2002 - Save the Rouge Valley System Inc.
2001 - Jim Robb and Cathy Gregorio-Robb
2000 - Joyce Trimmer, former Scarborough mayor
1999 - Lois James
1998 - Honourable Pauline Browes


The future of Rouge Park is threatened by urban growth in both Markham and Toronto, namely from residential development along the Rouge and tributaries. Morningside Heights and a residential development along Staines Road and Steeles Avenue East (Brookside Village, formerly Brookside Golf Course) were approved within Toronto despite being located along tributaries of the Rouge River and on the edge of the parkland. Standard Auto Wreckers operates a large car recycling facility on Sewells Road.

The communities of Box Grove and Grand Cornell are also close to the park boundaries within Markham. Some of the tributaries (like Little Rouge Creek) of the Rouge in the Markham area have been altered by residential development (and removed by man made rain collection ponds) and other surrounded by new homes. Highway 407 cuts through the southern section of the part of the park in Markham.

In Markham the 170-acre Catholic Christ the King Cemetery was built within the park boundaries; future plans by the city of Markham will prohibit new cemeteries within the park. It is owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto and land acquired before Rouge area was protected.

The lands for the Pickering Airport also lie close to the park's eastern boundaries. While the runway 10R/28L will be beyond the park, the southwest end of the property will border the northeast end of the park.

See also


  1. ^ Benzie, Robert (3 September 2014). "Ontario threatens to scuttle Rouge National Urban Park over environmental concerns".  
  2. ^ See also the Aurora Huron Ancestral Village in Whitchurch-Stouffville.
  3. ^ Bead Hill, Directory of Designations of National Historic Significance of Canada
  4. ^ Bead Hill, Toronto National Historic Sites Urban Walks - Parks Canada
  5. ^ "Premier Officially Opens Bob Hunter Memorial Park (Province of Ontario news release)". Government of Ontario. Retrieved 2011-07-24. 
  6. ^ "Giving Rouge Park a $6 Million Boost (York Works newsletter, Summer 2011)" (PDF). York Region. Retrieved 2011-07-24. 

External links

  • Rouge Park website
  • Rouge Valley Conservation Centre
  • Rouge River Watershed Plan Towards a Healthy and Sustainable Future - Report of the Rouge Watershed Task Force

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