Toronto Then and Now: The Humber River Gets Iced - The Intrepid

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Toronto Then and Now: The Humber River Gets Iced

Every week Toronto Then and Now compares a photo from Toronto’s past to one from the present.

Wadsworth Mill Ice
The Wadsworth Mill after a nasty spring thaw.

Humber River Ice
Étienne Brûlé Park after the thaw in February.

Usually, we don’t think of the Humber River as a raging torrent, but under the right conditions the river can do an impressive amount of damage. This year, heavy snowfalls and a flash thaw in February turned the Humber into a swollen beast that tore up Étienne Brûlé Park—scattering picnic benches and shattering informational displays—leaving a mountain of mini icebergs in its wake. Normally, the city is able to manage the chunks of ice that build up over the course of the winter, but the speed of this year’s thaw caught everyone unprepared. In the past, the spring thaw was just as deadly, as this undated early nineteenth century photo of the Wadsworth Mill—which once sat on the Humber at St. Philips road—demonstrates.

Photo of the damage at Étienne Brûlé Park by Chris Drost. The Wadsworth Mill photo comes from the Weston Historical Society Collection.