Exploring the Scarborough Bluffs on Lake Ontario

For more than 50 years, the Scarborough Bluffs have held a special place in my heart.

Cheryl Vousden at Scarborough Bluffs on a windy da PHOTO: CHERYL VOUSDEN

I have lived a short walking distance from the Scarborough Bluffs all my life, that’s nearly 55 years! I began to explore the Bluffs as a young girl. My mom would always remind me to “Stay away from the Bluffs!” but I did not take that advice, preferring to venture out there and pretend I was a mountain climber or Arctic explorer.


A brief history of the Scarborough Bluffs

Let me give you a little history of the Bluffs. They were named by early settlers Elizabeth and John Graves Simcoe. The cliffs reminded Mrs. Simcoe of her home, Scarborough, England. The magnificent cliffs stretch about 15 kilometres along the shore of Lake Ontario. They start at Victoria Park Ave. in the west and end around Manse Road in the east, then the land levels off and becomes a beach. Some of the property is private as homes sit on the land, but there are plenty of public parks to visit and view the lake from the high vantage point. In the mid ’70s, a landfill park was made called Bluffer’s Park that has allowed boaters and families to picnic and view the Bluffs from the lake. This park is very popular in the summer months, weekends especially.

Barred owl perched on a snowy tree branch PHOTO: CHERYL VOUSDEN

If you aren’t there shortly after breakfast, you ain’t gettin’ there! The police have to block off the access road to avoid massive traffic congestion. I don’t spend as much time at the Bluffs at those times. It’s too busy! The Bluffs are home to wildlife, too. On a quiet day you’ll see deer, fox, coyote, birds, and if you’re lucky, the occasional owl.

Pine trees in the winter at the BluffsPHOTO: CHERYL VOUSDEN

As I mentioned, I have been exploring the Bluffs for many years now and every visit is a little bit different. When geocaching became popular, I thought that placing a geocache there and naming it after my mom’s quote “Stay away from the Bluffs!” would be a good idea. My friend, Glenda, set me up and helped place the cache for geocachers to seek.

I spend the majority of my visits to the Bluffs alone with my camera, and as my family, friends and colleagues could attest, I prefer my visits when the weather is wild. Wind, cold and snow make for better photos—and more adventure! In high winds and cold temps, lake water splashes up and freezes on shore, creating wintry photo ops galore! I also like to photograph the weird sand formations that take shape, and lost or forgotten relics I happen to spot. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey with me to my hometown stomping grounds!

Next, check out what winters look like in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Originally Published in Our Canada