Ontario Abandoned Places

Documenting Canada's Abandoned Structures

Riverdale Farm (Zoo)

Ontario : Toronto
Location #2351

Location Owner:timo explorer
Creation Date: 2/9/2011
Last Updated: 11/6/2014

The Riverdale Zoo was Toronto's first zoo. The zoo first opened its doors in 1894. It housed animals donated or purchased by the city's elite and wealthy. The zoo featured animals in dark and dreary cages, with little thought of habitat or landscaping.
The Riverdale Zoo was finally closed in June 1974, when the new and modern Toronto Zoo was opened in the north-east corner of the city. Most of the original buildings were torn down and the site leveled soon after closing, but three of the original zoo structures remain. Those being the Residence, the Donnybrook Ruin, and the Island House.

The Residence was built in 1902 by prisoners from the Don Jail. It has been used as a residence and office for staff, zoo hospital, and even as a temporary morgue for the Necropolis Cemetery across the road. Today is used as a home for community events and houses the Cabbagetown Regent Park Museum.

The Donnybrook Ruins was originally a two storey building, with this tower being all that remains.

The Island House is found down the hill in the lower area near the ponds. You have to cross an old stone bridge to reach the site, but its well worth the stroll. This is the only cage structure still remaining. It held different types of animals and birds during its day as a zoo attraction. This was also known as the monkey house, but from my visits to this zoo as a small child, I can remember the monkeys being in a large indoor cave type of structure, but my memory is fuzzy at best.

The area now houses Riverdale Farm, which is a showcase to display the usual farm animals and activities to the people of Toronto, who may never get any closer to a real farm. This is a great place to bring youngsters, and a fabulous place to explore the remains of the old zoo.

New buildings including barns and a classic farmhouse, have been erected since the old zoo closed, but it retains the original and rural feel of a farm in the middle of a large city.

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Status: Repurposed | Category: Recreational

Charming Farming
Riverdale Farm (Zoo)
Created on:11/6/2014
Created by: Sasha
6 photos
Riverdale Zoo
Riverdale Farm (Zoo)
Created on:2/9/2011
Created by: timo explorer
20 photos

None listed

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Province: Ontario

Sasha says:
11/6/2014 5:12:48 PM

Felt like I was on the set of Charlotte's Web!!! Really magnificent.

timo explorer says:
11/2/2012 1:01:35 AM

I hope it stays open. A wonderful place for families to visit and learn about farm animals and enjoy a day in the outdoors.

RoadTrip says:
11/1/2012 4:28:21 PM

I heard it is closing in 2013..I hope it does.

spydrgyrl says:
8/7/2011 12:41:53 PM

I have been there .. nice little zoo. Right near the Necropolis, which is really cool too ... sure hope they don't close it!

grainger says:
8/7/2011 12:37:13 AM

Unfortunatly Riverdale Zoo is one of the things The City of Toronto is considering closing to save money.


vitalfilms says:
2/11/2011 1:14:24 AM

Some excellent history here! Thanks!

clay70 says:
2/10/2011 2:55:13 PM

Holy Spit--never heard of it before..Its not surprising that the animals were treated so poorly back then, when animal rights were rarely considered of any importance.

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On 11/6/2014 5:11:38 PM user Sasha uploaded photos : image.jpg / image.jpg / image.jpg / image.jpg / image.jpg / to SID: 116201414613
On 11/6/2014 5:08:41 PM user Sasha uploaded photos : image.jpg / to SID: 116201414613
On 11/6/2014 5:07:44 PM user Sasha created gallery : Charming Farming
On 2/7/2012 6:59:22 AM user sQualie changed the following: location name,