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article imageTulips are blooming at Toronto's Riverdale Farm Special

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By Bart B. Van Bockstaele     May 9, 2011 in Travel
Riverdale Farm, once Toronto's first zoo, is now the only working farm in the heart of Toronto. It boasts a series of historic buildings, flower gardens, wooded areas and ponds. Its magnificent tulip garden is now in full bloom.
Toronto's Riverdale Farm has a long history. The City of Toronto bought the land from John Scadding in 1856. It eventually became the location of Toronto's first zoo when Riverdale Zoo opened in 1894. The zoo remained active until 1974 when the animals were moved to the then-new Toronto Zoo in Scarborough.
Most of the buildings of the Riverdale Zoo site were removed and the site was transformed into a working city-centre farm in Toronto's historic Cabbagetown. Only three of the original zoo buildings remain, while other buildings were added over time.
The farmhouse, known as The Simpson House, is a reproduction of an original farmhouse. It is surrounded by a colourful flower garden.
The Simpson House and its flower garden
The Simpson House and its flower garden
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In the barns, the visitor can admire a variety of animals rarely seen today, even though they were common during the pioneer days.
Piglets in Toronto s city-centre Riverdale Farm
Piglets in Toronto's city-centre Riverdale Farm
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Another barn houses a number of carriages and traditional farm equipment.
Carriages at Toronto s city-centre Riverdale Farm
Carriages at Toronto's city-centre Riverdale Farm
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Grain sorter at Toronto s city-centre Riverdale Farm
Grain sorter at Toronto's city-centre Riverdale Farm
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While I was at the farm, the sheep were being shorn, which attracted quite a few viewers.
Sheep shearing and shorn sheep at Toronto s city-centre Riverdale Farm
Sheep shearing and shorn sheep at Toronto's city-centre Riverdale Farm
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Sheep shearing and shorn sheep at Toronto s city-centre Riverdale Farm
Sheep shearing and shorn sheep at Toronto's city-centre Riverdale Farm
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Riverdale Farm is located on top of a ravine. Follow the wooded trails descending into the ravine to reach the farm's ponds. We are currently having a late spring, and while lots of trees can be seen, they haven't yet reached the glorious green wooded effect we can see in summer. We see merely a promise of things to come.
Mallards and turtles at Toronto s city-centre Riverdale Farm
Mallards and turtles at Toronto's city-centre Riverdale Farm
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Wooded trails lead to the ponds of Toronto s city-centre Riverdale Farm
Wooded trails lead to the ponds of Toronto's city-centre Riverdale Farm
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While the trees are struggling to get their leaves, we do see the first wildflowers appearing.
Periwinkles (Vinca minor) at Toronto s city-centre Riverdale Farm
Periwinkles (Vinca minor) at Toronto's city-centre Riverdale Farm
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Riverdale Farm is open every day from 9 AM to 5 PM. It is well worth a visit for everybody. If you live in the city, it is a unique chance to see a working farm in operation, without leaving the city and braving hours of traffic jams.
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