Now Or Never

Aboriginal Eco Tours finds nature on downtown's doorstep

In Toronto, just a bus or subway ride away from downtown — you'll find yourself at Jane and Eglinton. There are high rise condos, parking lots and a highway. But there's also nature, where you least expect it.
Alan Colley (right) and a tour group examine bird feathers left over from another bird's meal. (Acey Rowe/CBC)

In Toronto, just a bus or subway ride away from downtown — you'll find yourself at Jane and Eglinton. There are high rise condos, parking lots and a highway. But there's also the Humber River.

"Alan [Colley] called it Korean Spinach, a woman harvesting her own supply called it Japanese Parsley. Everyone agreed it would be delicious sautéed in butter." - Julia Murphy, tour participant. (Julia Murphy)

It's one of the spots that Toronto nature guide Alan Colley of Aboriginal Eco Tours takes people, to show them that nature is right on their downtown doorstep.

Colley guides group tours, where he points out animal tracks and a range of plants. On a recent outing, he showed a group edible plants like garlic mustard and Korean spinach.

Colley said it's common to see deer, crayfish, frogs, turtles and salamanders during the tours.

"All the crayfish, a lot of them in the wintertime, they come up here and they burrow in the sand. Over the last month they've all been climbing out and going back to the river."

They also found deer tracks, a pile of bird feathers and snails. 

For Haley Cohen, going on the tour was a welcome break. "It is important, living in the city, to have some balance by getting out of the concrete into nature."

Nature guide Alan Colley holds two live crayfish found under a flat rock on the bank of the Humber River. (Acey Rowe/CBC)

This piece originally aired in May, 2017.


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