Friends of the Don East

Venturing into the deep wilderness of the Don River Watershed, you find yourself immersed in the quiet solitude of the city’s natural heritage. Written by Danielle Astrug 

It strikes you as the perfect escape, but its poor health is the result of years of environmental mismanagement and our disconnected ideas of nature.

“People don’t see the natural relationship from the creek to the lake to the water you drink… and their direct relationship to it” says James McArthur, Executive Director of Friends of the Don East (FODE), on the intimate connection we have to our water systems. “Ten years ago, it didn’t register with people, but now they have the option to make better environmental choices.”

FODE has helped build broader awareness in the city about environmental issues, particularly those affecting the city’s ravines and water. Since 1993, FODE has worked towards the goal of reviving the health of the Don and its tributaries. FODE has also been instrumental in leading restoration work, particularly in Taylor-Massey Creek, where they have helped restore about 12 acres of land through the planting of over 8,000 trees, wildflowers and shrubs.

They hope to expand the scale of their work over the next few years, including installing more interpretive signage in the city’s parks and restoring areas further north and west such as E.T. Seton Park. To learn more about FODE’s plantings and interpretative walks, or to join them in their work, visit their website at

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