Sean Fraser, Toronto

The Ravine

Straining against the colonial engineer’s grid, carved relentlessly through table land by an ancient creek, its buried waters find their way to the Don and on to the lake. On its banks are a kaleidoscope of wild flowers, blossoms, leaves and litter that turn with the seasons. The V-shaped walls shelter forgotten ruins, are crossed by trails, and nurture all manner of rodents while raptors circle above. Camped under concrete abutments, is a shadow community of young and old, in shacks and tents, clinging to the trees and fences. Counterpoised are the suits and briefcases, cyclists and cabs, canines and baby strollers that traverse the world above. I cross the chasm on Mayor Lamport’s bridge each day. Stories and memories illuminate my walk and punctuate the topography. Somewhere below me was Joseph Bloor’s brewery, behind me was William Jarvis’s suburban enclave and ahead was once the defiant Sherbourne blockhouse. The ravine remembers ancient hunters, Simcoe’s Castle, the Rebellion, the first iron bridge, hurricane Hazel and a time before the subway. Though concrete towers rise to the south and west harvesting an ever-diminishing sky, I find solace in the valley landscape. Riverdale to Rosedale under the lush embankment of the Necropolis rest those who came before us. I am reassured by the continuity of the ravine and its place in the city over time.