Toronto's sewers and drains
Hamilton's drains and sewers
One of two brick-floored slides beneath Glenlake Avenue, just east of Keele Street, in the Earlscourt Sewer.
This fall, I have been publishing articles about sewers in much lower profile areas of Toronto. Whether we look beneath that part of East Toronto that isn't quite the Beach(es), or below the modest homes and businesses along Rogers Road in the old Borough of York, we can find sewers that say a lot about how the communities above came into being, and about the places and challenges we face today. This article is probably the last in that immediate series. Another sewer system built to confront a looming sanitation crisis in an area of the city annexed in the first decade of the twentieth century, for me the Earlscourt and Junction Sewers are literally a little closer to home: the photograph above was taken beneath a street immediately around the corner from where I live. Read More

In the main overflow tunnel fo the East Toronto and Midway sewer complex, beneath Coxwell Avenue.

For a long time, the sewers in Toronto's west end were unchallenged in my mind as both the most fascinating old system in the city, and the one most in need of exploration. However, as a result of my colleagues' dogged determination, there is some serious competition on the eastern horizon: the East Toronto and Midway sewers, a network of pipes and conduits as complicated as the Garrison system but with fewer hazardous environments and impassable diversions, although we did have to boat across one chamber. Read More
Several kilometres up the former Borough of York's Central and Eastern Trunk Sewer, sixty feet beneath Rogers Road.
The Central and Eastern Trunk is a mess of a sewer, and I mean that with a certain amount of love. It's all finished in slightly horseshoe-shaped, arched concrete, and it has a few fantastically big access chambers that were left over from the excavation shafts that were used to bring men in and excavated material out while it was being built. However, it also has its share of tight, humid, fast-flowing passages, and its overflows have long been the bane of the lower stretch of the Black Creek. Read More

The new surface channel at Sherbourne Common in Toronto's East Bayfront. Treated stormwater will eventually flow through this channel to the lake.

Last Friday, Waterfront Toronto unveiled Sherbourne Common, the latest in a string of connected parks that it has been developing along the city's central and eastern harbour. While the grand opening took place in the nearly completed part of the park south of Queen's Quay, work continues on the north side's sweeping water sculptures and raised biofiltration beds, as well as the broader stormwater management facility that will eventually feed treated stormwater to the park. The park represents an innovative and forward-thinking approach to building 'hard' stormwater infrastructure and integrating it into public space, but raises other questions about our approach to rebuilding our urban watersheds. Read More

The Parkside Relief Sewer begins at abandoned stand-by tanks in the northeast corner of High Park, which once served to provide temporary storage relief for the High Park and Earlscourt Trunk Sewers.

Built c. 1910-1912 to relieve sewers in Earlscourt and north of High Park, the Parkside Relief Sewer continues to serve as the western-most overflow sewer for both the High-Level and the MTI. While overflows from Parkside are now intercepted by the Western Beaches Storage Tunnel, the recent sewage overflow into Budapest Park calls into question the success of that expensive infrastructure addition. Read More
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Michael Cook is available to speak to your organization about infrastructure history, lost creeks, current conditions, and opportunities for change in our management of and communication about urban watersheds, and to work with teams proposing or implementing such change. Get in touch.