Featured Parks

Rouge Park

Rouge Park Shore

Rouge Park, one of Toronto's best kept secrets, and Toronto's largest park is becoming Canada's first national urban park. It will stretch from the Oak Ridges Moraine to the shores of Lake Ontario and cover over 40 square kilometres encompassing Canada's largest wetland, National Historic Sites, wilderness areas, historic farmlands, fishing areas and a sandy beach. French explorers are responsible for giving the park its name and the history of the area can be traced back to the 1700s and events in the 1990s laid the groundwork for the development of Rouge Park as Canada's first national park. There are many outstanding viewpoints in Rouge Park. Glen Eagles Vista is one of them.

This park features: Diverse wilderness landscapes, historic sites, extensive trails, outstanding viewpoints, Rouge Beach, Rouge River

Rouge Park is listed as one of the top 13 spots to see birds in Toronto in the City's Birds of Toronto Biodiversity Series booklet, which is available in libraries across the city.

Announcements

Glen Eagles VistaGlen Eagles Vista

Glen Eagles Vista is a viewpoint with outstanding view of river valleys and geologic features. From this viewpoint you can see the Rouge River and Little Rouge Creek valleys, a provincially-significant geologic feature and meadow species of plants and animals. It's main features include a 0.6 km long trail, vista point with outstanding view of river valleys and geologic feature, and short trail with interpretive signs and native vegetation.

Rouge Beach ParkRouge Beach Park

Rouge Beach Park is located at the mouth of the Rouge River. Two distinct geographical features define this area: a white sand beach on Lake Ontario which is a popular spot for swimming and picnicking and a marsh area on the north side of the entrance road. The marsh habitat is stopover point for migratory birds, a breeding ground for waterfowl and a great spot for birdwatching.

The Rouge RiverThe Rouge River

The Rouge river and its main tributary, Little Rouge Creek, flow through an area that remains largely undeveloped - the watershed encompasses about 2,200 hectares within Metropolitan Toronto. Red clay in the river's banks give the water a distinct colour as it flows towards Lake Ontario; early eighteenth century French explorers noted the water's colour and recorded it as Rivière Rouge on maps.

Person in the Shade at Rouge Beach ParkMuch of the land in the Rouge watershed has been protected in Canada's largest city, Toronto, as Canada's largest urban park, Rouge Park. Only 30 minutes east of downtown Toronto and accessible by TTC, Rouge Park offers incredible landscapes, wilderness areas, Canada's largest wetland, National Historic Sites, marshlands, farmlands, fishing areas and a white sand beach.

First created in 1995, Rouge Park includes lands that drain the Rouge River and the little Rouge River. Red clay on the banks of the Rouge (and the Little Rouge) give the water a distinct red colour. Early eighteenth century French explorers called the river the Rivière Rouge on maps and the river and the area has been known as the Rouge ever since that time. The history of area is outlined in a timeline of historic eventsthat have shaped Rouge Park.

The announcement of the Rouge National Urban Park Initiative by Parks Canada and the financial commitment of $143.7 million over 10 years mean that the process for Parks Canada to assume future operations of Rouge Park has already started. Parks Canada will work with the City of Toronto and other partners towards a land transfer agreement for fall 2012.

Rouge Beach Park, Rouge Marsh Park, Woodlands Park, and Glen Eagles Vista will all become part of the NEW Rouge Park at that time, fall 2012.

Rouge Park Partners

Parks Canada
City of Toronto
City of Pickering
Town of Markham
Toronto Region Conservation Authority
Province of Ontario

People CanoeingVarious bands of the Five Nations Iroquoian confederation inhabited the area until they were displaced by the Mississauga Indians in the late 1700's. Remnants of early settlement can be found throughout the Rouge valley. The Seneca Indians, an Iroquoian band, were believed to have inhabited an area between the Rouge River and Frenchman's Bay in Pickering; their main village was called Ganatsekwyagon. The river was known by natives as Katabokokonk, meaning river of easy entrance.

Early eighteenth century French explorers are responsible for naming the Rouge River and the surrounding area. The red clay banks of the Rouge and Little Rouge Creek give the water a distinct colour. The French explorers named the river the Rivière Rouge on their maps which translates to Rouge River and so the river and the area became known as the Rouge.

European settlement was not prevalent until the Crown began providing large land grants to United Empire Loyalists who were fleeing the United States after the American Revolution. Major John Smith received a grant in 1792 that extended four kilometres along the shoreline of Lake Ontario and included the mouth of the Rouge River. Major Smith's huge tract of land stalled any further development in the area for many years.

William Berczy, founder of the Town of Markham, attempted to build a canal along the Rouge River and the Holland River to connect Lake Ontario with Lake Simcoe. Although it was never completed, a one-ton boat could travel 24 kilometres upstream by July 1795. A variation on the project was undertaken by Cecil White in the 1920's. His ambitious plan to transform the Rouge marsh and beach area into the "Venice of North America" was designed by Italian architects and included bridges and canals modelled after those in Venice. Although channels were dredged in the marsh and a bridge connecting Woodgrange Avenue with Westpoint Avenue was built, the project collapsed after the stock market crash in 1929. High flood waters from Hurricane Hazel removed the remaining structures built by White but, to this day, the channels are still visible in the marsh area.

Historic events in Toronto's Rouge Park

1991

The remains of a Seneca village from the 1600s are designated a National Historic Site. Known as "Bead Hill", this archaeological site later became part of Rouge Park. It becomes another of the Park's National Historic resources, along with the eastern branch of the Toronto Carrying Place Trail.

2001

The City of Toronto recognized Rouge Park's importance to the health of the City's natural environment when studying its ecological assets, as part of revising its Official Plan.

2004

Rouge Park was recognized for its rare Carolinian habitat by the Carolinian Canada. A plaque commemorating this natural legacy was placed at Glen Eagles Vista in the Park in Toronto.

2005

The Province of Ontario included a special section on Rouge Park in its groundbreaking Greenbelt Plan. It recognized the Park's management plans and Implementation Manual as key planning documents, as well as the Park's role of protecting a major biodiversity reservoir for the Toronto area.

2006

Celebration Forest opens in Toronto to commemorate the lives of supporters of Rouge Park and those who contributed to the natural and cultural legacy of the area prior to the Park's formation.

2007

Recognizing Rouge Park's value as "green infrastructure" for the Toronto area, the Ontario government dedicated 600 hectares of land in east Markham. This welcome addition of natural lands helped to bridge the barrier of Steeles Avenue East, and make the Park 47km2 in size.

2012

The announcement of the Rouge National Urban Park Initiative by Parks Canada and the financial commitment of $143.7 million over 10 years.