From its upper levels, residents of Rodeo Drive will overlook a lush, verdant, almost Arcadian landscape arguably unlike any other neighbourhood in Toronto. Don Mills/The Bridle Path is, quite simply, awash in a sea of green because of the numerous parks in the area and the immense size of many of the neighbourhood’s residential “estates.” But it is the parks that are public space, open to one and all, and each is special in its own way. The largest of the green spaces within easy reach of Rodeo Drive is a series of inter-connected parks—Sunnybrook, Serena Gundy and Wilket Creek—that form one vast green-sward bordering the ravine bed of the creek. Sunnybrook is the largest of them and was at one time the 147-acre farm of the socially prominent Kilgour family who donated it in the late 1940s to the city as a public park. The estate’s stables still exist and are avidly used by equestrians, young and old, and it’s a delight even for non-riders to observe the horses at rest inside their paddocks. The park’s vast and immaculately maintained cricket pitches host national and international competitions, and seeing cricketers at bat in summer whites is something out of a picture post card. Serena Gundy is at the south end of Sunny-brook Park, and its one-time 20-hectares on the West Don River Valley, north of Eglinton, was the one-time estate of investment banker James H. Gundy. It was donated to the city on the proviso that a plaque honouring the bequest be added to the stone gates at the Broadway Avenue entrance. ‘Twas done. Another green space on the northern boundaries of the neighbourhood is Windfields, gifted to the city by Don Mills founder E.P. Taylor. This nature park contains two hundred year old trees, a pond, a marsh, cross-country trails and wild life and wild flowers galore. Some argue Bond Park is Don Mills’ favourite outdoor space and its 6.8-hectares features five baseball diamonds and a clubhouse. Other smaller parks in the ‘hood include the 1.2-hectare Mike Bela Park, at Lawrence East and Banbury Road, and Talwood Park, on the east side of Leslie north of Lawrence. And finally there’s the 15-hectare Moccasin Trail Park, on Lawrence East at the Don Valley Parkway, featuring walking trails through a naturalized rain forest. With all its abundant greenery, Don Mills could easily masquerade as “the country” despite its location at the centre of vast metropolis.
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