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Petticoat Creek

Petticoat Creek watershed represents a continuum between natural, rural, and urban land uses and is best described as an urbanizing, warm-water system. Natural and rural areas of the watershed, comprising roughly two-thirds of the land base, are protected under selected provincial initiatives, explained below.

The name "Petticoat" is a clue to the human heritage of the area. The City of Pickering notes it as a variation on the term "Petite Côte", used by French settlers in the 1600s in reference to the creek mouth where one bank is quite high, and the other side low and flat. The watercourse likely had many previous names, given its history of aboriginal settlement over the last 4000 years by Huron and Iroquois peoples.

The long history of agriculture in this area has not resulted in significant degradation of the northern portion of the watershed. The agricultural community has generally been a good steward of this land.

Fast Facts

  • Watershed size: 27 square kilometres.
  • Municipalities: Pickering, Markham, Toronto, York, Durham
  • Length of river system: 49 kilometres. Petticoat Creek flows south and empties into Lake Ontario at Petticoat Creek Conservation Area.
  • Land use: agriculture 52%; public and private greenspace 27%; urban development 21%
  • Flora and fauna species: 85 bird; 6 amphibian; 14 mammal; 4 reptile; 410 plant; 11 fish.
  • Natural cover: 16% of the watershed is either forest, wetland, or meadow
  • Unique features:
    • Petticoat Creek's headwaters, or the source of the stream, are located south of the Oak Ridges Moraine, on the South Slope.
    • Parts of the watershed in Toronto and York are protected in Rouge Park which will become part of the new Rouge National Urban Park.
    • Duffins-Rouge Agriculture Preserve and the provincial Greenbelt, which protect agricultural land.

Where can you visit?

  • Altona Forest Conservation Lands in Pickering is a publicly-owned greenspace, free
  • Petticoat Creek Conservation Area in Pickering has a swimming pool, picnic areas and other amenities. User fees apply.
  • Trails: Waterfront Trail, trails at Petticoat Creek CA

Current projects and events:

  • TRCA leads work on ecological enhancements in Altona Forest.
  • Rouge Park coordinates and funds ecological restoration projects in the park, in partnership with community groups