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The Scarborough Bluffs, also known as The Bluffs, are an escarpment in the Scarborough district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Forming much of the eastern portion of Toronto's waterfront, it is located along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. At its highest point, the escarpment rises 90 metres (300 ft) above the coastline and spans a length of 15 kilometres (9.3 mi). It was first named in 1793.
The Bluffs have been described as a "geological wonder" and a unique feature in North America.
The Bluffs were named after Scarborough, England by Elizabeth Simcoe, the wife of John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada. The bluffs along Scarborough's Lake Ontario shores reminded her of the limestone cliffs in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England. In her diary, she wrote, "The [eastern] shore is extremely bold, and has the appearance of chalk cliffs, but I believe they are only white sand. They appeared so well that we talked of building a summer residence there and calling it Scarborough."
A stylized version of The Bluffs appeared prominently on the flag of the former City of Scarborough.
Since then, The Bluffs have become a community meeting place for people of all ages. It features various recreational hiking and walking trails as well as picnic tables, firepits, places to pitch a tent, parking lots, a 'Bluffers Restaurant', and a large marina and boating club.
The Scarborough Bluffs formerly extended further west along the coastline of Lake Ontario towards Toronto Harbour, but extensive areas along the western fringe were levelled by the use of explosives for the implementation of primarily industrial and some residential urban development. Even the existing formation has and continues to shrink considerably decade after decade due to consistent and dramatic erosion.
They run 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the foot of Victoria Park Avenue in the west to the mouth of Highland Creek in the east, reaching as high as 90 metres (300 ft), the equivalent of twenty-five storeys. However, the escarpment continues westward inland, running between Kingston Road and Queen Street East, pausing over the Don Valley, and continuing on the north side of Davenport Road. The escarpment forms the old shoreline of Glacial Lake Iroquois, formed after the last ice age, which left valuable geological records as the part of the escarpment by the lake eroded. The eroded alluvial deposits from the Bluffs then settled westward to form the Toronto Islands.
The Scarborough Bluffs had been eroding at a rapid rate since cottages were built near the edge in the 1940s and this problem escalated in the 1970s when a six-metre chunk fell off the Bluffs. Homeowners knew that erosion would occur, but the waterfront views were enticing enough to settle there, which led to a housing boom along the Bluffs, which was responsible for the accelerating rate of erosion. Even as recently as summer 2008, chunks of the Bluffs had eroded to the point that one quarter of a cottage that the late actor and comedian Billy Van once owned is left hanging on the cliff; the cottage is deemed a safety hazard by Toronto city officials as a result. To combat erosion, boulders acting as armour rocks and trees were placed at the base. However, to place these rocks and plant trees, a beach must be created to allow trucks to access the cliff base, which would involve levelling parts of the Bluffs, such as the aforementioned Bluffer's Park. The Cathedral Bluffs, which is an impressive portion of the Bluffs, was the result of continued erosion.
- Carter, Chris (2005-10-06). "A holiday with history". toronto.com. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
- "The Trip to York". Travels with Elizabeth Simcoe. Archives of Ontario. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
- Doolittle, Robyn (2008-08-22). "Scarborough Bluffs residents left hanging". Toronto Star (Torstar). pp. A10. Retrieved 2008-08-23.