On many days, I walk from the vicinity of the Long Branch TTC Loop in Etobicoke (Toronto) to the Small Arms Building in Lakeview (Mississauga) at Dixie Road and Lakeshore Road East.
It’s a walk that I enjoy; over the years I’ve been documenting, at this website, the changes and events that have been taking place at the Small Arms Building, and at the Arsenal Grounds near the building. Most recently, the news is that the City of Mississauga has taken ownership of the building from Toronto and Region Conservation. This changeover of ownership is part of the process whereby the Small Arms Building will be preserved and repurposed to function as a vital Community & Cultural Hub.
The work that is being done, at this building and elsewhere in Mississauga, with regard to preservation and repurposing of historical buildings and places, is a source of tremendous inspiration for many people – me among them, even thought I do not live in Mississauga!
On Saturday, May 13, 2017 at around 12:45 pm, as I was walking back toward Long Branch from the Small Arms Building, I came across a remarkable sight at the bridge that crosses Etobicoke Creek just west of Forty Third Street. I saw a creature hopping across the road from the south side of the bridge to the other side. It appeared to me at once that this was a creature that was not used to hopping its way across a paved surface. It did not appear to me that this was a creature built for speed.
I was pleased that no cars were travelling across the bridge, at that point. The animal, which looked a bit like a beaver, but wasn’t, and looked a bit like a squirrel, but was bigger, made it to the sidewalk on the north side of the bridge.
It arrived at a point at the western edge of the bridge. However, instead of proceeding further to the west, and from there to the safety of the grassy area north of the sidewalk, it decided to start hopping east toward the Long Branch side of the bridge. It hopped in that direction for some time, but then stopped.
Why it stopped, I don’t know. When we see an animal, we may be inclined to make all manner of assumptions about its state of mind, and its emotional state. However, ever since taking a First Year Sociology course at McGill University in Montreal, taught by a Professor named Laing in the mid-1960s, I’ve been aware that, whenever we note the behaviour of some animal, and make inferences based on our observations, we need to give some thought to the question of whether our inferences are corroborated by any evidence. Given that we are not in a position to have a chat with an animal, the extent of the available corroboration may be quite limited.
So, I will stick to the observable behaviours. I noted that the animal had arrived at a particular point, and at that point it was not prepared to advance further. At one point, when I approached it head-on and took a photograph, it backed up quickly. But than it stopped. When I walked up to it from the west, stepping within a short distance of it, it did not move. Instead, it turned its neck and looked toward me.
My immediate concern was that, if the creature were to try to hop back across the roadway, seeking to return to where it had begun, there was a strong likelihood that it would be struck by a car, as the traffic was quite heavy, at that time.
I decided that, in the circumstances, the best option would be for me to continue walking east. I surmised that, in time, the animal would decide to continue hopping toward the east, until it reached a grassy area at the eastern side of the bridge, where it could proceed on its way toward the banks of Etobicoke Creek.
Once I got to Thirty Third Street, and looked back, I saw that a young woman and a young man had taken account of the situation, and were involved in a conversation regarding the topic at hand. Then I noticed that a car had stopped on the westbound lane, closest to the sidewalk, and the driver had activated the car’s emergency lights.
I then saw the animal hop under the car, where it stayed.
Thereupon, someone from the car had some object, which may have been a hand-held windshield cleaner, which was being used to try to prompt the animal to get out from under the car and move back onto the sidewalk. The driver of a car on the inside westbound lane had also stopped. Soon a good number of cars had stopped, blocking both the westbound lanes. From where I was standing, I waved my arms to alert incoming drivers from the west that something was afoot, so that they would be alert to the need to start applying their brakes as they approach the stopped cars up ahead.
Well, the story ended well! The animal, whatever species it was, jumped out from under the car, and then proceeded to hop along the sidewalk, heading east until it came to the grassy side at the eastern end of the bridge. It was home free! There was applause all around. The cars started up again, and I continued walking east along Lake Shore Road West.
If you as a site visitor can help us, by way of offering a definitive identification of the species of animal that we have encountered, on the occasion that I have described, please contact me.
Here’s a video of Larry (or is it Lucy) Long Branch (or is it Larry or Lucy Lakeview)?
The above-noted Vimeo link features the following description:
You can find the back story here:
The video shows the part where the Ground Hog is walking for a short distance on the way toward the east side of the bridge over Etobicoke Creek. When it moved across the roadway, it hopped or ran or did whatever this species of creatures does, when it’s in a hurry.
I look forward to borrowing books and also DVDs (if there are any available) about Ground Hogs (assuming that’s the definitive ID) from the Toronto Public Library, so that I can get better acquainted with Larry or Lucy the Ground Hog’s Life Out in Nature. Definitely, an adorable creature, however fast or slow it moves when travelling across a roadway or sidewalk!