As the kiss of Autumn starts tickling our noses, it serves as a reminder to squeeze in those leisurely walks so many of us adore when it’s neither too hot, nor too cold, before Frosty The Snowman blasts his icy chill across Toronto.
So where do I like to stroll?
Sign me up for a leisurely path to Riverdale Farm in Cabbagetown! Because nothing says Autumn to me like Apple Cider, a barn’s worth of animals, a lesson in agriculture, and exploring trails under canopies of changing coloured leaves.
Originally built in 1858, Riverdale Farm is a cultural staple of the community and popular tourist destination, offering up a rare taste of country life – within the city! Located in the heart of one of Toronto’s greenest neighbourhoods – lush ‘n leafy Cabbagetown – this 7.5 acre property and working farm is a must see, whether you live downtown or are just visiting! It’s also not simply a one-time time attraction – experiencing the serenity of the natural world, paired with interaction with the animals produces a sense of peace that’s can do wonders!
The property was first owned by John Scadding, an early settler of the Town of York (or Old Toronto), but was purchased by the city in 1856. For 75 years the land was used to house The Riverdale Zoo, hosting a “bizarre menagerie of wild and exotic creatures, including elephants, hippopotamuses, monkeys, and sea lions.” BlogTO It was eventually was eventually closed in 1974, reportedly due to an overcrowding issue (thanks to too many animal “donations”) and a few unclear incidents that resulted in either animal deaths or visitor injury. The site was repurposed and cultivated to become an agricultural attraction instead, paying tribute to the area’s farming heritage. It officially opened to the public as an urban farm in 1978, but you can still see clues to the property’s zany zoo past! Curious as we are? Here are some fantastic archive photos!
Now open seven days a week, 365 days a year, this working farm gives visitors a taste of country life and a refreshing “green” escape for when the concrete jungle becomes overwhelming. Visitors can observe a selection of livestock (cows, pigs, sheep, goats), horses, a donkey, farm fowl (chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys) and even some smaller furrier friends like farm cats. (Be warned – you can look, but please don’t touch!)
While visiting, we recommend exploring some of the historic buildings on the property, like The Francey Barn, built in 1858. Originally on a farm in the Markham Township, it was donated by Mrs. Garnett Francey to the City of Toronto in 1977 and transported here. This ‘Pennsylvania bank barn’ represents a rare style of North American architecture made specifically to persevere on the sides of hills or riverbanks. This double level barn is ideal to hold livestock in the lower level while storing hay, straw and feed on the upper level.
‘The Residence’ is located by a picturesque duck pond, but it’s history is a little quacked (see what I did there? Duck joke). Built by Don Jail prisoners in 1902, it severed many purposes over the years, including a zoo keep residences, a staff building, a zoo hospital and as a temporary morgue for the Necropolis Cemetery, which is located just north of farm. Can you say perfect place for ghost hunting? Cause I can! Now the building is used for community-based programs.
All images courtesy of riverdalefarmtoronto.ca
The Meeting House is a unique three-storey building that opened in 1993, and is used mainly for year-round programming – like classes in pottery and spinning/weaving! For more information on all that Riverdale Farm has to offer check out their website, riverdalefarmtoronto.ca.
There’s clearly a lot to do and see at Riverdale Farm, making for a full day of activities. Part of the charm of this property is how close it is to the city center. Jump on the 506 Carlton Streetcar and take a walk through the streets of Cabbagetown. Filled with historic family homes on tree-lined streets, only a stone through from the Riverdale Park West and East, Riverside and The Church Street Village, Riverdale Farm is a treasure you can come back to time and time again!
Love the idea of farm life in the city?
Who wouldn’t love to put down roots in Cabbagetown – in proximity to rare amenities like bucolic Riverdale Farm – and to call a slice of this historic ‘hood ‘Home’?! Check out An Enchanting Cabbagetown Cottage On Alpha Avenue that we SOLD in this lovely, leafy neighbourhood!
This 1890’s workers cottage had been refreshed, and we brought it to market for the first time in over 30 years! For those who love character, this one was a heart-grabber!
If you enjoyed this blog, here are some other posts featuring great Toronto destinations on Urbaneer.com!
Thank you for reading!!
~ The Urbaneer Team
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-8000
– we’re here to earn your trust, then your business –
*Like what you’ve read? Did you know we were recently listed as one of The Top 25 Toronto Real Estate Agents To Follow On Twitter! , The Top 50 Blogs On Toronto and the Top 100 Real Estate Blogs In Canada? Consider signing up in the box below to receive our FREE monthly e-newsletter on housing, culture and design including our love for unique urban homes and other Toronto real estate!
*Love Canadian Housing? Check out Steve’s Student Mentorship site called Houseporn.ca which focuses on architecture, landscape, design, product and real estate in Canada!