Why Is Hague Park Considered Environmentally Significant?

Hague Park is a 9.3 hectare park at Bellamy Road and Lawrence Avenue East that features a mature forest in the West Highland Creek Ravine. It is part of the West Highland Creek Trail.

This small park at the junction of Bendale, Cedar Brook and McCowan Parks is one of four Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) in the Highland Creek Watershed (the others are Stephenson’s Swamp, Highland Forest and the Morningside Park Forest). The Highland Creek Watershed is one of the nine watersheds in Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s (TRCA) jurisdiction.

Hague Park has two of the four criteria for ESA designation:

  • It’s home to rare or endangered plants (such as the American hazelnut) or animals.
  • It provides important ecological functions that contribute to the health of ecosystems beyond their boundaries (Hague Park has seepage areas that support diversity of wetland communities).

Hague Park features a moderate to steep deciduous and mixed forest on the valley slopes, as well as a lowland forest and swamp on the floodplain situated along West Highland Creek.

In this park you’ll find sugar maple, American beech, eastern hemlock, eastern white cedar, white birch and basswood. Especially relevant is a healthy stand of trees dominated by black cherry, an important forest tree for local wildlife because of its fruit.

Hague Park is also home to regionally rare American hazelnut, one of two hazelnut species indigenous to Ontario (the other is the beaked hazelnut). These hazelnut trees can produce edible nuts that mature between July and October. They’re also vulnerable to Eastern Filbert Blight, a disease that kills hazelnut trees in less than a decade if left untreated.

The ESA program was developed to identify and protect the regionally significant lands and waters vital to the health of the ecosystem in the Toronto region. You can learn more about ESAs from City of Toronto.