After the sweltering summer heat subsides, and before the bitter cold of winter arrives, there is the colourful, magical, sweet-spot season of fall. The air is crisp and cool, and the trees seem to show off with a brilliant display of gold, orange and red. These are the sweet and simple days where you feel like putting on a cozy sweater and heading out for a seasonal stroll.
Make your fall experience even more wholesome, quaint and beautiful by heading over to Riverdale Farm (201 Winchester Street), located within Riverdale Park West in Cabbagetown. You can walk there from Village Green in about 25 minutes, or ride your bike there in about 10 minutes. Be sure to park your ride in the bike racks as bicycles are not allowed on the farm. Or jump on the eastbound 504 streetcar from College subway station, get off at Parliament Street and walk north to Winchester Street.
Get a Feel for Farm Life
Riverdale Farm is a working farm owned and operated by the City of Toronto. It is open 365 days a year, from 9 am to 5 pm and admission is always free! If you’d like to support the farm, a donation box can be found outside the entrance. Tax receipts are issued for donations of $10 or more.
The 7.5-acre property features vegetable, flower and herb gardens, and is home to a variety of pioneer breeds of farm animals that are rarely found on commercial farms today, including cows, pigs, sheep and goats. There are also horses, donkeys and chickens and waterfowl. Come and get a glimpse of farm life under the glorious, colourful backdrop of the fall foliage. Pack a picnic and enjoy the feeling of a peaceful and beautiful afternoon in the country, without leaving the city.
History of Riverdale Farm
The land was originally owned by John Scadding, an early settler and clerk to the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe. The property was purchased by the City of Toronto in 1856. Between 1888 and 1974, it was the site of the city’s first zoo, the Riverdale Zoo. The farm was built as a tribute to small, family farm heritage. The barn doors were opened to the public in 1978.
Every day, at 11:30 am, the farmer presents an animal for visitors to see and ask questions about in the Lower Francey Barn. There is a chalkboard posted at the barn entrance that will inform you which animal will be appearing that day. Riverdale Farm is a working farm and not a petting zoo. Direct contact with any of the livestock must be supervised by farm staff. Feeding of the animals is not permitted.
The Francey Barn is located just inside the main gates. When the animals aren’t out roaming in their paddocks, this barn is their home. The barn is designed in a rare architectural style known as a Pennsylvania bank barn. The barn is built into a hill (or river bank) which provides an upper and lower floor. The animals are housed below, and the supplies are stored on the upper floor.
In addition to The Francey Barn, visitors can tour the Pig and Poultry Barn. Home to chickens, turkeys, domesticated waterfowl and pigs. During the day, the waterfowl can be found walking the grounds on their way to and from the duck pond where they swim and forage for food
The Simpson House is named after the architect who built it, Napier Simpson Jr. It is a reproduction of the original Francey farmhouse. Today, renovations are underway within Simpson House to create a new Welcome Centre and discovery hub. Construction is due to be completed this fall. Check in with Riverdale Farm’s facebook page for updates.
In the meantime, public washrooms are available in The Meeting House.
The Meeting House:
The Meeting House is a three-storey building located on the east side of the farm, near the Duck Pond. This building serves as a hub for programs including pottery and weaving, as well as the lost and found.
Built in 1902, by prisoners from the Don Jail, The Residence has seen many occupants over the years. It was the zookeeper’s residence, a zoo hospital, and even a temporary morgue for the adjacent Necropolis Cemetery. Today it is used for community-based programs.
Explore the Trails:
There are over 3 kilometres of trails and paths to explore on the farm’s grounds. The Farm map highlights all of the key features waiting for you to discover.
Riverdale Park is also your gateway to Toronto’s ravine and trail system. You can learn more about that in our recent post.
PLEASE NOTE: There will be construction on the paths and trails on the east side of the farm.
Saturday, September 29th, is the 40th Anniversary celebration at Riverdale Farm, from 10 am until 4 pm, with fun family-friendly activities, demonstrations, food and activities throughout the day. Admission is free, as always!
For a more adult celebration, get your tickets for the Fundraising Barn BBQ on Friday, September 28th. There will be great food, music and a cash bar.
Kids will love exploring the Boo Barn on October 21st. There will be Halloween arts and crafts, face painting, a pumpkin patch to explore and pumpkin carving (all tools provided). Take home your very own jack-o-lantern and pumpkin seeds for roasting. A $5 donation is suggested to support the farm and visitors are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item for donation.
A visit to Riverdale Farm is a fun, free and beautiful way to spend an autumn afternoon. Check it out!
Greenrock Property Management Limited wants to help you experience all the wholesome beauty that your community has to offer. For information on Greenrock Communities, including Village Green (50 Alexander Street, 40 Alexander Street and 55 Maitland Street), please visit our website.