Humber River (Ontario)
The Humber, as seen from a point near the northern border of Toronto
|Districts||Dufferin County, Regional Municipality of Peel, Simcoe County, Regional Municipality of York|
|Municipalities||Toronto, Adjala–Tosorontio, Brampton, Caledon, King, Mono, Vaughan|
|Part of||Great Lakes Basin|
|Source||Humber Springs Ponds|
|- location||Mono, Dufferin County|
|- elevation||421 m (1,381 ft)|
|Mouth||Humber Bay, Lake Ontario|
|- elevation||74 m (243 ft)|
|Length||100 km (62 mi)|
|Basin||903 km2 (349 sq mi)|
- This article is about the river in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. For links to other rivers of the same name, see Humber River (disambiguation). For the two colleges named after this particular river, visit Humber College.
The Humber River (French: Rivière Humber) is a river in Southern Ontario, Canada. It is in the Great Lakes Basin, is a tributary of Lake Ontario and is one of two major rivers on either side of the city of Toronto, the other being the Don River to the east. It was designated a Canadian Heritage River on September 24, 1999.
The Humber collects from about 750 creeks and tributaries in a fan-shaped area north of Toronto that encompasses portions of Dufferin County, the Regional Municipality of Peel, Simcoe County, and the Regional Municipality of York. The main branch runs for about 100 kilometres (60 mi) from the Niagara Escarpment in the northwest, while another other major branch, known as the East Humber River, starts at Lake St. George in the Oak Ridges Moraine near Aurora to the northeast. They join north of Toronto and then flow in a generally southeasterly direction into Lake Ontario at what was once the far western portions of the city. The river mouth is flanked by Sir Casimir Gzowski Park and Humber Bay Park East.
The Humber has a long history of human settlement along its banks. Native settlement of the area is well documented archaeologically and occurred in three waves. The first settlers were the Palaeo-Indians who lived in the area from 10,000 to 7000 BC. The second wave, people of the Archaic period, settled the area between 7000 and 1000 BC and began to adopt seasonal migration patterns to take advantage of available plants, fish, and game. The third wave of native settlement was the Woodland period, which saw the introduction of the bow and arrow and the growing of crops which allowed for larger, more permanent villages. The Woodland period was also characterized by movement of native groups along what is known today as the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail, running from Lake Ontario up the Humber to Lake Simcoe and eventually to the northern Great Lakes.
Étienne Brûlé was the first European to encounter the Humber while travelling the Toronto Carrying-Place Trail. Brûlé passed through the watershed in 1615 on a mission from Samuel de Champlain to build alliances with native peoples. The Trail became a convenient shortcut to the upper Great Lakes for traders, explorers, and missionaries. A major landmark on the northern end of the trail in Lake Simcoe was used to describe the trail as a whole, and eventually the southern end became known simply as "Toronto" to the Europeans.
A fort, Fort Toronto, was constructed about 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) inland from the mouth of the Humber to protect the Trail, which eventually became the modern city of Toronto. During the 1660s this was the site of Teiaiagon, a permanent settlement of the Seneca used for trading with the Europeans. Popple's map of 1733 shows a prominent river beside "Tejajagon" which we can only assume was the Humber. Its name is given as the Tanaovate River. French missionaries used the area for many years, including Jean de Brébeuf and Joseph Chaumonot in 1641, Louis Hennepin in 1678, and Rene-Robert Cavelier de La Salle in 1680.
However, no permanent European settlement occurred until the arrival of Jean-Baptiste Rousseau (not to be confused with Jean-Jacques, the famous author) in the late 18th century. Rousseau piloted John Graves Simcoe's ship into Toronto Bay to officially begin the British era of control in 1793. Most of the British attention was focussed to the east of the Humber, around the protected Toronto Bay closer to the Don River. Settlement was scattered until after the War of 1812 when many loyalists moved to the area, who were joined by immigrants from Ireland and Scotland who chose to remain in British lands.
Upon his arrival in York, Simcoe was keenly aware of the need for a lumber mill and grist mill in the area. He had constructed a sawmill on the west bank of the river near present day Bloor Street in 1793, which was operated by John Wilson. In 1797 Simcoe managed to get a grist mill established on the Humber River. It was owned and operated by John Lawrence. Overt the 85 years about a half a dozen mills were operated along the river by such men as W. P. Howland, Thomas Fisher, John Scarlett, William Gamble and Joseph Rowntree.
By 1860 the Humber Valley was extensively deforested. This decreased the stability of the river banks and increased damages done by periodic flooding. In 1878 a disastrous flood destroyed the remaining water powered mills. As the Toronto area grew, the lands around the Humber became important farming areas; in addition, some areas of the river's flood plain were developed as residential. This led to serious runoff problems in the 1940s, which the Humber Valley Conservation Authority was established to address. But in 1954, Hurricane Hazel raised the river to devastating flood levels, destroying buildings and bridges; on Raymore Drive, 60 homes were destroyed and 35 people were killed.
The Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority succeeded the Humber Valley authority in 1957 (the word "Metropolitan" was dropped in 1998). More recently, a task force within the TRCA was formed to further clear the Humber as a part of the Great Lakes 2000 Cleanup Fund.
|This section requires expansion with: with additional course information between the river source and its mouth. (March 2012)|
For a map showing the river course, see this reference.
The Humber River begins at Humber Springs Ponds on the Niagara Escarpment in Mono, Dufferin County and reaches its mouth at Humber Bay on Lake Ontario in the city of Toronto.
The Humber Watershed is a hydrological feature of south-central Ontario, Canada, principally in north and west Toronto. It has an area of 903 square kilometres (349 sq mi), flowing through numerous physiographic regions, including the Oak Ridges Moraine and the Niagara Escarpment. The watershed is bounded on the west by the Credit River, Etobicoke Creek and Mimico Creek watersheds, and on the east by the Garrison Creek, Don River and Rouge River watersheds, all six of which emptied into Lake Ontario; on the north by the Nottawasaga River which empties into Lake Huron; and on the northeast by the Holland River, which empties into Lake Simcoe.
Unlike the Don to the east, the Humber remained relatively free from industrialization as Toronto grew, mainly because it is much flatter and does not provide a large river valley to build in. Since Hurricane Hazel showed the land to be unsuitable for housing, it has been largely developed or redeveloped as parkland, with the extensive and important wetlands on its southern end remaining unmolested. Whereas the mouth of the Don is often clogged with flotsam and is obstructed by low bridges, the Humber is navigable and a major sporting and fishing area.
Today the majority of the Toronto portion of the Humber is parkland, with paved trails running from the lakeshore all the way to the northern border of the city some 30 km away. Trails following the various branches of the river form some 50 km of bicycling trails, much of which are in decent condition. Similar trails on the Don tend to be narrower and in somewhat worse condition, but the complete set of trails is connected along the lakeshore, for some 100 km of off-road paved trails.
- Humber Creek
- Black Creek
- Salt Creek
- Rainbow Creek
- Wilcox Lake
- Claireville Lake
- "Humber River". Geographical Names Data Base. Natural Resources Canada. http://www4.nrcan.gc.ca/earth-sciences/geography-boundary/geographical-name/search/unique.php?output=xml&id=FBPLL. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- "Humber River". The Canadian Heritage Rivers System. 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
- "Humber River". Atlas of Canada. Natural Resources Canada. 2010-02-04. Retrieved 2012-03-15. Shows the course of the river highlighted on a map.
- "Humber river watershed plan: Pathways to a healthy Humber" (PDF). Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. June 2008. p. iii. ISBN 978-0-9811107-1-4. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
Other map sources:
- Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (2010-01-01) (PDF). Map 3 (Map). 1 : 700,000. Official road map of Ontario. http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/traveller/map/images/pdf/southont/sheets/Map3.pdf. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
- Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (2006). Restructured municipalities - Ontario map #6 (Map). Restructuring Maps of Ontario. http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Asset1611.aspx. Retrieved 2012-03-15.
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Humber River (Ontario)|
- The Humber Watershed at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
- Flooding events in Canada - Ontario, an Environment Canada page