Covering an area of approximately 36,000 hectares, the Don River stretches almost 38 km in length, flowing south from its headwaters on the Oak Ridges Moraine to the Keating Channel, where it empties into Lake Ontario.
Home to 1.2 million residents, almost half of the Don watershed is devoted to housing, leaving little undeveloped land left. The pressures of urbanizations have presented many environmental challenges for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the earth to grow our food. Despite these challenges, the landscape of the Don River is slowly being regenerated and revitalized, and its natural heritage celebrated through annual events such as Paddle the Don and Mill Pond Splash.
From its headwaters on the Oak Ridges Moraine and South Slope, its two principal tributaries flow south through the City of Vaughan and Towns of Markham and Richmond Hill, all in the Regional Municipality of York. The East Don and West Don Rivers cross Steeles Avenue into Toronto and join together on the Iroquois Sand Plain south of Eglinton Avenue. German Mills Creek flows into the East Don River just south of Steeles. Taylor/ Massey Creek joins with the East Don River just north of the confluence with the West Don River. And the Lower Don flows south to the outlet of the Keating Channel where it empties into Toronto Harbour and Lake Ontario.
For more than ten thousand years, this network of rivers, streams and valleys has provided an historic highway for the First Nations peoples and, later, the early European explorers, traders and settlers. Subsequent waves of colonization and urbanization have indelibly marked and transformed the aquatic and terrestrial landscape, bequeathing both a rich cultural heritage and some difficult environmental challenges. The natural areas and greenspaces of the watershed serve as wildlife refuges and a recreational magnet for the 1.2 million residents that live within its boundaries.
Places of interest in the Don Watershed
- Oak Ridges Moraine
- Harding Park
- Baker Sugar Bush
- Bartley Smith Greenway
- Milne Hollow
- The Pottery Road Weirs
- Lower Donlands and Keating Channel
Walk the Don
The Don River watershed stretches about 32 kilometres from the Oak Ridges Moraine down to Lake Ontario. Although there is no end-to-end valley trail, the Don offers many opportunities for long and short walks away from the city traffic. Walk the Don is a series of self-guided interpretive walks located throughout the watershed in Toronto and York Region. All walks use prepared trails and are suitable for family use. Download one of the trail guides shown below and spend an afternoon enjoying the river valley!
This blog is an undertaking of The Don Watershed Regeneration Council and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. The blog provides you with the most up to date information, news, events, and projects related to the Don River watershed. Discover the Don offers a new way to experience, engage in, and help conserve the Don River watershed!