Marie Curtis Park

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Marie Curtis Park
Marie Curtis Park.jpg
Mouth of Etobicoke Creek at the park
Location2 Forty Second Street, Toronto
Coordinates43°35′12″N 79°32′38″W / 43.58667°N 79.54389°W / 43.58667; -79.54389Coordinates: 43°35′12″N 79°32′38″W / 43.58667°N 79.54389°W / 43.58667; -79.54389
Area41 hectares (100 acres)
Operated byToronto Parks
WebsiteMarie Curtis Park

Marie Curtis Park is a public park in Toronto and Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. It is located at the mouth of the Etobicoke Creek on Lake Ontario in the Long Branch neighbourhood. Etobicoke Creek is the boundary of Toronto on the east and Mississauga to the west. Marie Curtis Park was built after the devastating floods of Hurricane Hazel in 1954 destroyed 56 homes and cottages on the site, leaving 1,868 persons homeless and 81 dead.[1] It is named after a reeve of Long Branch, a village now amalgamated into the City of Toronto. The park's official address is 2 Forty-Second Street, Toronto, ON M8W 3P2.[2]


The park is mostly deciduous forest with areas of meadow, savannah, thicket, woodland, plantation, with a shallow marsh, some sand dunes and a beach.[3] A trail passes through the park from east to west, crossing the creek via a bridge. The river bank is landscaped with man-made materials where it meets Lake Ontario.


The park has a playground, wading pool, two colour children's labyrinth with a push-button activated spiral waterfountain, a public swimming beach, a dog off-leash area, picnic spots and walking trails.[2] The walking trails connect to the Waterfront Trail along the lake-side. At the beach is a mounted 32-pounder cannon manufactured in 1803 by the Carron Company of Falkirk, Scotland. It had come from Quebec City in 1881 to decorate Riverdale Park.[4]

The public swimming beach is located on the east bank of the Etobicoke Creek mouth. The beach is monitored for safe swimming as e.coli bacteria levels rise after rain-storms.[5] The beach closes after major rain storms until levels dissipate.[6] The beach is not one of the Toronto beaches which are part of the Blue Flag program.[5]

Marie Curtis Park, children's play area


Photograph taken of cottage on Etobicoke Flats in Etobicoke Township, April 7, 1923 by John Boyd.

The area is believed to have been used frequently by native people prior to the arrival of Europeans. The Anishinaabe/Mississaugas called it "Etobicoke", meaning the "place where wild alders grow". It is believed that the natives had a trail through this natural area which later became the "Road to York", also known as the old route of Lakeshore Road. Native people may have used this land as far back as the Early Archaic period (circa 7500-3000 B.C.) and, according to Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)'s Greening Our Watershed report, artifacts, "may rest about 10 to 20 metres beyond the current shoreline at the mouths of the creeks" (Etobicoke and Mimico Creeks).[3]

In the late 1790s, this land was part of the Toronto Purchase of lands from the Mississaugas First Nation. In the park area, land, including the park lands, was granted to Colonel Samuel Smith, a United Empire Loyalist from New York who fought for Britain in the Revolutionary War. Lakeshore Road was established and Colonel Smith cleared part of the forest and built his house near the mouth of Etobicoke Creek in 1799.[7]

Throughout most of the 19th century, the land was agricultural.[8] In the early 1900s, the land along the Lake Ontario shoreline and at the mouth of the creek was subdivided into lots for summer cottages, some of which were built on stilts to protect against frequent flooding along the floodplain.[8] At this time, the creek had two channels surrounding an island just upstream from the mouth of the creek. When the channels met below the island, the creek then did a sharp 90 degree turn before reaching Lake Ontario. The sharp bend in the creek formed a beach bar between the creek and the lake. Both the island and the bar were used by cottagers.[1]

By the late 1940s, there were at least 277 residences in what was called the "Etobicoke Flats".[1] Just outside this natural area, and within Marie Curtis Park, there was a small arms manufacturing company that was constructed during World War II. After its closure in 1976, the property was turned over to the Canada Post Corporation and used as a distribution centre. The office complex and the water tower remain of the buildings on the site.

Etobicoke Creek flooded badly in 1948, which prompted the then Etobicoke River Conservation Authority to make an offer to purchase houses in the area to develop a park with flood controls. Local residents refused to sell.[1] The mouth of Etobicoke Creek was altered in 1949 through the building of the Long Branch Diversion Channel that removed the 90 degree bend and allowed creek water and ice to flow in a straight path into Lake Ontario.[1] Even so, in 1952, an ice jam in the river occurred and destroyed some houses on the flats.[1]

In 1954, Hurricane Hazel hit the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and within 24 hours, 28 centimetres (11 in) of rain fell, leading to the death of seven area residents and the destruction of at least 56 residences (numbers for the GTA as a whole were much higher). New flood protection measures led to the government expropriation of 164 properties (at a cost of $800,000 ($7.4 million in 2017 dollars))[9] near the mouth of Etobicoke Creek and the removal of cottages on the flats.[10] The western channel of the creek and the area north of the sand bar was filled in except for a small pond in the area of the west channel. Marie Curtis Park opened in 1959. The park was named after Marie Curtis, former Reeve of Long Branch for her role in forming a regional parkland system.[1]

In 1992, the TRCA purchased the 15 hectares (37 acres) lands of the adjoining former arms factory along Lakeshore Road to facilitate the growth of Marie Curtis Park to 41 hectares (100 acres). The TRCA has developed a master plan, and done remediation efforts on the land since then. 70,000 tonnes of contaminated soil was removed and a containment facility for low-level radioactive waste was constructed at a cost of CA$1.6 million. The land is currently used to stockpile landfill and its development is not expected to occur before 2017 or 2018. Park development costs were estimated in 2005 at CA$3 million.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Guy 2005, p. 1.
  2. ^ a b "Marie Curtis Park". City of Toronto. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Peel 2011.
  4. ^ Purvis, Fred. "Secret Lives of Toronto's Guns". Fife and Drum. 9 (4): 7.
  5. ^ a b "City of Toronto Beaches Water Quality Report". City of Toronto. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  6. ^ Shum, David (July 12, 2013). "7 of 11 Toronto beaches unsafe for swimming". Global News.
  7. ^ Harrison 2010.
  8. ^ a b Peel 2011, p. 2.
  9. ^ Canadian inflation numbers based on Statistics Canada. "Consumer Price Index, historical summary". Statistics Canada. Retrieved April 26, 2018. CANSIM, table (for fee) 326-0021 and Catalogue nos. 62-001-X, 62-010-X and 62-557-X. And "Consumer Price Index, by province (monthly) (Canada)". Statistics Canada. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  10. ^ "Expropriation Critics Annoy Reeve Curtis". The Globe and Mail. Toronto, ON. February 19, 1955. p. 5.
  11. ^ "Arsenal Lands: Master Plan and Addendum" (PDF). October 2007.


External links[edit]