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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

The Humber’s coolest restroom

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The bike and pedestrian trails at the mouth of the Humber River tour through a varied landscape. One minute the riverside paths will take you under an expressway, the next minute you'll bike past marshland, and then under hydro towers surrounded by meadows. One of the highlights of this trail system is South Humber Park.

The park is easy to miss from the street; to the north and west it is couched behind the backyards of suburban homes, and to the south it is bounded by the Humber Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Upon entering South Humber Park, cyclists and pedestrians are treated to a surreal sight. On one side of the path sits a white, saucer-shaped structure on stilts called the Park Pavilion. From some vantage points, with the tall grasses along the bike trail obscuring the view, it appears to be floating. Many trail-goers stop to take a closer look at the curious structure and discover that the saucer has incredible acoustics: if you stand underneath and shout or clap your hands, you get a crisp echoing sound in response.

The hill to the south of the saucer offers yet another fantastic view — this time of the top of the structure, as well as of the treatment plant. The circular towers of the plant appear to be mimicked in the design of the saucer.

The only one of its kind in Toronto, the saucer is part of a public washroom building which was locked and mothballed a number of years ago. It was designed for the site by Alan Crossley in 1959, shortly after the city decided to turn the area into a public park. Previously, the land belonged to the Humber Valley Golf Course. The park was created after the Humber Valley was severely damaged by Hurricane Hazel, at which point the city initiated a program of public ownership of floodplain lands, allowing for the extensive riverside trails that we have today.