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Visiting the Waterfront Trail in the Durham Region of Ontario: the rugged lakeshore in all weathers

Updated on June 26, 2012
Provincial Flag of Ontario
Provincial Flag of Ontario | Source
At the Waterfront Trail in Ontario's Durham Region
At the Waterfront Trail in Ontario's Durham Region | Source
Water and sky form an invigorating whole: Lake Ontario from the Waterfront Trail at Durham Region's Pickering
Water and sky form an invigorating whole: Lake Ontario from the Waterfront Trail at Durham Region's Pickering
Ontario's Durham region
Ontario's Durham region | Source

Invigorating and healthy. Interesting, too

We probably all need to pop our sundry sets of pills and medications. But a bracing walk is certainly calculated to be beneficial to our health. One ideal location for such a walk is the Waterfront Trail in Ontario's Durham Region, where, from the mouth of Pickering's Rouge River the Trail runs eastward along the Ontario lakeshore of Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa municipalities and beyond.

A very healthy fact regarding the Waterfront Trail in general is that significant proportion of users are commuters to their place of work.

Some facts and features

One aspect of the Waterfront Trail that I particularly appreciate are the information panels which have been supplied at regular points along the route. In fact, on the Ontario lakeshore altogether, I understand that, as I write this, 780 kilometres of the Trail's 900 kilometres have already been installed with signage.

In the Province altogether, 182 parks and natural areas adjoin the Trail, and ornithologists will find it a suitable vantage point for the observation of many species. The profusion of geese in the vicinity of the Pickering Waterfront have given rise to signs discouraging the feeding of the fine, protected birds.

At Oshawa, where the Oshawa Creek enters Lake Ontario, the contribution of General Motors in preserving Second Marsh has been significant.

At Ajax, the Veterans Point Gardens supplies panels describing the naming of the town for HMS Ajax.

At the Pickering Waterfront, the section called First Nations Trail is a tribute to the historical presence of First Nations, as the mouth of the Rouge River at Lake Ontario served as a strategic point far into the past.

Waterfront Regeneration Trust

This Trust issues maps and numerous informational aids regarding the Waterfront Trail.

Regular news updates about significant events and developments along the Trail are issued in is Ezine called Waterfront Trail and Greenway News .

Bilingualism and French historical influences

Not unusually for Canada, the Waterfront Trail signage along the Lakeshore is bilingual English-French, but in the case of the Durham Region it is maybe especially apt. Some of the original European explorers and settlers were, in fact, Francophone; various of the placenames bear this out. The Rouge River marks the boundary between Durham Region and Toronto. The word 'Petticoat' in Petticoat Creek , which hosts a conservation area by the Lakeshore, was originally Petite Côte . (Fascinatingly, near Michigan's own Rouge River — of the Ford works fame — there is also a Petite Côte , with its own conservation area, too.) I understand that the name allusion in Frenchman's Bay, at Pickering, remains somewhat obscure.

The Waterfront Trail which passes through the Durham Region's Lakeshore area subsequently stretches eastward even beyond the shore of Lake Ontario, along the St. Lawrence Seaway, to Cornwall and the border with Quebec; thus, right into territory marked increasingly by the presence of Francophone residents: eastern Ontario, particularly, is well-known for its Franco-Ontarian heritage.

Indeed, by the year 2007, the Trail had linked at the Ontario-Quebec border La Route Verte of the latter province.

Also worth seeing

The immediate Durham region has various buildings which are of historic interest; a few of these include:

Post Hill House , Ajax ; dating from 1855, this building, which recently underwent restoration, exemplifies the Rural Gothic Revival architectural style.

McKay House, Ajax ; this structure, which dates from 1854, is the only 2 story fieldstone house still existing in Ajax. Another name by which it is also known is Charnacy: this refers to the birthplace in Scotland of the original owner.

Pickering Museum Village , Greenwood ; situated on Duffins Creek , the museum site contains various examples of interesting, heritage buildings; these include a Temperance Hotel, Redman House, a number of barns, a blacksmith's and woodworking shop, a Bible Christian Chapel, a General Store, and a Gift Shop.

Parkwood, Oshawa ; this is a striking, stately home which is open to the public. Formely the home of founder of GM of Canada, Colonel Sam McLaughlin, the property's extensive grounds and its pillared portico are a local landmark.


How to get there: Air Canada, flies to Toronto Pearson Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. (Distance from Toronto Pearson Airport to Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa: approx. 50.6, 56.8, 66.9 and 70 kilometres respectively). GO Train operates a service between Union Station, Toronto and the GO stations at Pickering, Ajax, Whitby and Oshawa. Highway 401 gives straightforward access to localities along the Durham Region's Lakeshore. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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