Hidden behind the sound barrier off Allen Road and Eglinton St West, is a path that leads to one of Toronto’s most curious parks.
Running from that point (just north of Eglinton West subway station) in a narrow eastward strip that ends at Yonge & Davisville, is a green belt created on top of a former railway line.
Built in 1892, the Belt Line railway through then-suburbs of Moore Park and Forest Hill closed its passenger service after only two years of operation. Sections of the railway still had freight service until the 1960’s, while other parts were sold off to various land developers. After the freight service ceased, the railway was abandoned for years until in 1972 the city purchased this land in order to create a park.
The Kay Gardner Park is a walking and biking trail through the heart – or rather the back yards – of Midtown Toronto. Along this trail you can get a glimpse of the back porches and swing sets of Forest Hill, one of Toronto’s richest neighbourhoods and a place of some extraordinarily large examples of domestic architecture.
(I also loved visiting a similar but elevated park in Paris, likewise built on top of an old railway)
If you are exploring the Beltline Park with kids, there are a couple of great playgrounds in its eastern half, including one that has recycled rubber ground cover common in the States but sadly absent from all other playgrounds I’ve ever come across in Toronto. For this reason it’s a playground I adore. If you don’t see what the big deal about having a rubber surface is, you haven’t had to shake sand or wood chips out of your own and both your children’s sandals every day. Also – and this part is worth checking out even if you brought no kids with you – it’s really bouncy. Just walk over and try it.