My Escarpment

From the Regal Heights Review Fall 2019, Vol I

By Beth Marcilio

My sister who was visiting from Australia, and I were travelling on a tour bus to Niagara-on-the-Lake to see a show when the guide, with barely-contained excitement, announced, “We’re coming up to the escarpment ladies and gentlemen; look out the windows on your left”.

My sister said to me, “When’s the escarpment?”. 

“We passed it.” I said. “It was that hill on the left with the ragged sumac trees.”

The Niagara Escarpment might have underwhelmed my sister, but come to Regal Heights and I’ll show you a magnificent escarpment where once the waters of Lake Iroquois lapped gently to the shore.

View of Toronto skyline from Davenport Escarpment. Photo by Peggy Lampotang

The Lake was formed after the Ice Age, approximately 13,000 years ago, a short time in geological terms. The shores were formed by the expanding and retreating ice over thousands of years, forming a cliff face that parallels present-day Davenport Avenue.

Were humans living in Regal Heights during the Ice Age? They could have been, because man did live during this unfriendly time. Human history in Regal Heights starts with the formation of Lake Iroquois. One picture I found showed what the shores would have looked like in those ancient days. I saw cottage country.

Remnants of those forbearers can be found in Regal Heights. Arrowheads have been unearthed and a friend of mine found a clay pipe west of Regal Road. When I’ve dug in the garden along Regal Road I have found a tin soldier, a toy from the ’30s or ’40s and a small tin toy car from the ’50s. Huge iron bolts, perhaps from farming equipment, have also been uncovered.

For a short time the south side of Regal Road was a playground. The City once told some old neighbours of mine that they would never allow homes to be built on the south side of Regal Road. So they bought on Northcliffe. However, houses did appear on the south side of Regal Road in the 1920s.

When houses were built on the north side of Davenport, huge chunks of earth were excavated from the cliff. I wish the diggings had been examined for fossils and any other artifacts that tied into the long history of the escarpment that marks the southern frontier of Regal Heights.

Perhaps some day the city or the community will put up a monument to the Indigenous people who once lived here. It would pay homage to the thousands before us who stood on the escarpment, overlooking the ice fields or Lake Iroquois and like me, dreamed.