Rouge Park

Sights & Sites: Joel Harrison-Off

Joel Harrison-Off in the Rouge

Joel Harrison-Off is a Forest Health Care Inspector for the City of Toronto. He has been a Canoe Ranger in Algonquin Park, a tree planter in North Ontario/Manitoba, a production arborist in Toronto and is an all-around super-cool guy.

I asked him the question: What is the most interesting, unusual or beautiful sight to see in one of our ravines or forests?"

As a forest health care inspector, I am typically looking at street trees that are dying, covered in fungus or riddled with insects, so when I get the chance to be in one of the ravines or woodlots, I try to take advantage of it. To me, the ravines and woodlots are where the healthier trees are, with a few areas left that aren't being crowded out with invasive weeds.

In a large city like Toronto, it is nearly impossible to walk through a natural area where you are not reminded of human impact, so when I encounter a section of ravine where I can't see any buildings, garbage or homeless people, it tends to stick in my memory.

Morningside Park and the Rouge are two areas where I can momentarily feel far away from the city. A third nod goes to Earl Bales Park, where with a little work and imagination you can find some pretty good hiding places. One of my most recent interesting finds is a section of Rouge Park near the intersection of Morningside Ave and Morningview Trail that overlooks the Buffalo pen of the Toronto zoo while standing on the west side of the Rouge River. If blindfolded, spun around and driven out to this spot, most people would have a hard time believing they were in Toronto.

Photos at the top of this post courtesy of Joel Harrison-Off .

Posted on: April 29, 2016
This post is part of Sights & Sites, a series that celebrates our amazing ravines & forests and the people who care for them.