Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Abandoned Ford Drive

Saturday morning, just for the grits and shins, I headed down to Oakville to shoot some more abandoned stretches over Joshua Creek. Many years ago, very early in the 90s, I had a penchant for studying maps of the GTA and I noticed a little gap in one of the roads, where it crossed a stream. When I went there, I found what I hoped I'd find: an old abandoned bridge, probably built in the 50s or 60s and abandoned in the 70s or 80s. I've blogged about it; it's here.

Just a little south of that, on what is actually the same road, there's another abandoned bridge over that same creek, and then another stretch just a few yards further south still. The first is recent enough that I can remember, vaguely, passing down that stretch early in the 90s. The other seems to have been officially out of action for a rather long time.

Named for the car plant it skirts, Ford Drive is more or less a southern extension of Ninth Line. When I got my license at the end of the 80s, it still cut straight south before making a gentle westerly swing to bridge Joshua Creek and then abruptly cross some railroad tracks and dive down Maple Grove Drive. Sometime in the 90s, it was rerouted to the east, completely avoiding the creek (and thus, abandoning the stretch with the bridge), and severing its connection with Maple Grove Drive, which now stops at the tracks and no longer crosses them – according the maps, anyway.

South of that stretch is another I noticed, with another bridge over Joshua Creek. I'm not 100% sure but I'm about 90% convinced that this was actually once the course of Royal Windsor Drive, back when it had a level crossing with those railroad lines. But that must have been a very long time ago. I have access to maps of that part of Oakville going back to 1970, and the huge bridge over the tracks that's there now was also already there back then. So this stretch must have been abandoned no later than when The Beatles were still sending hits up the charts; possibly earlier than that.

I explored the old stretch of (what I believe to be) Royal Windsor Drive first. It's still in surprisingly good shape; arguably, better than old Ford Drive, which hasn't even been off the grid 20 years yet. I think it's being routinely used to service the hydro lines and/or the rail tracks at its eastern end. Passing back, I saw a garter snake; the second snake I've seen in just a few weeks. Years and years go by between snake sightings for me. Maybe it's a good sign for the environment.

To get to old Ford Drive, I had to cross a few yards of marshy ground, but that was accomplished easily enough. I wandered up as far as I could, around the bend, to where Ford now has an upper parking lot that assumes what used to be the road. On my way back, I encountered a couple of dogs. One, a German shepherd, ran just about up to me before turning back. They both had collars and 'kerchiefs on, but I never saw or directly heard the person(s) I assume they must have been with... they turned around and headed back to someone; that's clear. Later I heard a few heavy twigs snap, and that's usually a good indication there's a human around. When I crossed back through the marsh to old Royal Windsor, I expected to see them all, but there was no one. It was weird.

A relatively minor excursion for me as these things go, but one I can now check off my list. :)


jim said...

Sweet! What is it about Toronto that has left so many abandoned roads behind? Did the city have a period of unprecedented growth it could hardly keep up with? Was there a period of major new-highway construction?

Lone Primate said...

A lot of roads that seem to need little readjustments here and there. :)

I think what it is, is, the older a place is, the less its roads were set up to handle extra lanes, or wide bridges, or ways to avoid level crossings... newer places have these built in but places with road systems one or two centuries old have to get their streets let out here and tucked in there from time to time. :)