As a kid, all I ever wanted was remote control vehicles. I had one of those cheap cars attached to a wire – but that was the closest I ever got to a true remote vehicle. As time went on and I got older, the allure faded. Until a decade later when Parrot released the AR Drone. Drones immediately excited me and despite the high cost, I knew one day I’d own one. The allure wasn’t just controlling something flying, it was being able to see the world through the eyes of a bird. I mean, every time I travel in a plane – I demand a window seat to be able to see the world differently. We’re very much accustomed to seeing things from the ground, but seeing it from the sky is exciting! Drones make that even more possible.
When Best Buy asked me if I wanted to #CaptureYourCanada from the eyes of a drone – I said yes! They would provide a drone to film with and that the rest was up to me. (So not sponsored… but supported by? Technically enabled by?)
I knew exactly where and what I wanted to film. The Don Valley. The Don Valley is one of the best parks in Toronto, and I equate it to New York’s Central Park. You’ve got this massive green space with tons of historical significance to our city. But unlike Central Park, I think most people sleep on it. The Don Valley has gone through different eras. It was the original home for Pioneers in the 1790s – Todmorden Mills. It then became a kind of cottage country for the city of York (now Toronto). In the mid-1900s, it was a major quarry where the Don Valley Brick Works supplied bricks for much of Toronto’s downtown buildings. That, along with other industry caused significant pollution where the Don River was basically dead of life.
But then, a resurgence. The Brick Works shut down (as an active Quarry) and became an example of a green business. The quarry area was reclaimed – turned into walking paths, ponds and home to native species of plant and animals. The pollution eventually cleared, and now there are fish again in the Don River. Bike and walking paths wind their way through the entire Valley – from Lake Ontario all the way up to North Toronto. While accessing the Don Valley remains somewhat difficult – that’s likely going to change in the coming years.
The Future is the Don Valley
While accessing the Don Valley remains somewhat difficult – that’s likely going to change in the coming years. With the DJI Phantom 3, I wanted to capture what the Don Valley, the Brick Works and Riverdale Park areas look like. I’m expecting that in the next decade or two, we’ll see massive developments to make the Don Valley more accessible to everyone. It’s going to become what I see it as – our own massive Central Park right in the heart of Toronto.
Canada’s 150th is here – and while we’re celebrating our country, we should also look the future! The Don Valley is an incredible green space in Toronto, and I hope we do more to make this space as great as it can be!
Images above are from the Don River Valley Historical Mapping Project.