Tour the historic working farm’s scenic 7.5 acres through wooded areas, around ponds, and into butterfly-herb-flower-vegetable gardens. Visit the farm animals, tour buildings such as the pig and poultry barn and the Residence and chat with a farmer during daily chores.
201 Winchester St, Toronto
TTC Information: Travel to Castle Frank Station, eastbound platform. Board the 65 Parliament towards Esplanade. Exit on Parliament Street at Winchester Street. Turn left on Winchester and walk to arrive at 201 Winchester Street.
Click for the Riverdale Farm Map, hand painted on wood by local artist Tim Zeltner.
Riverdale Farm officially opened on September 9, 1978. Originally owned by John Scadding, the City of Toronto purchased what was to be Riverdale Park in 1856. In 1894, the Riverdale Zoo opened to become Toronto’s first zoo, but eventually it was closed in 1974 with the animals relocated to the new Toronto Zoo in Scarborough. From 1974 to 1978, many of the Riverdale Zoo buildings were removed and the site levelled. The Residence, the Donnybrook, and the Island House buildings are the only zoo buildings left remaining on the Riverdale site.
The Francey Barn
This barn is located inside the main gates. Originally built in 1858 on a farm in the Markham Township, it was donated by Mrs Garnett Francey to the City of Toronto in 1977. The Francey Barn is a rare type of architecture, known as a Pennsylvania Bank Barn. Bank Barns are built on the side of hills or river banks. This has the advantage of having an upper and lower floor accessible from ground level. The animals are housed on the lower level, while upstairs the Francey Barn holds tonnes of hay, straw and feed.
The Simpson House
The Simpson House is under construction and won’t be open to the public until mid to late November 2018. Washrooms are available in the Meeting House.
The Victorian-style farmhouse, named after the restoration architect ( Napier Simpson Jr.) who built it, is to the left of the main entrance. It is a reproduction of the original Francey farmhouse to complement the Francey Barn. Public washrooms are located on the ground floor. Wheelchair access is on the north side of the Simpson House.
The Pig and Poultry Barn
This Barn is located to the east of the Simpson House. Domesticated waterfowl, chickens, turkeys and pigs are found in and around this barn. During the day our waterfowl can be found visiting the Duck Pond located across from the Meeting House. The Farm regularly replenishes the flock of chickens and turkeys.
At Riverdale Farm, this building serves a number of purposes and the lower level is open to the public for special events and seasonal education / interpretive programs.
The Meeting House
The three-storey building, completed in 1993 is located at the east-end of Riverdale Farm by the duck pond. Recreational and interpretive activities are offered to the public inside the Meeting House. The farm’s lost and found, first aid, public washrooms and baby changing facilities are all found on the main floor. Additional washrooms are located on the second level archway. Pottery and spinning/weaving rooms are located downstairs. Classes are offered seasonally from September to June. The Meeting House is the home base of the Farm’s Summer Camp Programs.
The Old Zoo Ruins
From 1894 to 1974, the Riverdale Zoo was located on this site. When the Metro Zoo opened in Scarborough in 1974, the site was restored as a farm to provide children with the chance to see how a farm works.
Three buildings remain from the old Riverdale Zoo:
- Donnybrook Ruin stands beside the cow paddock. It was originally a two-storey building, but a tower and the main floor is all that remains today.
- Island House sits in the middle of the lower pond. It housed many different kinds of birds and animals during the 80 years of the zoo.
- Resident Zookeeper’s House is located beside the Meeting House. It was built in 1902 by prisoners of the Toronto Don Jail and functioned as a residence, a staff building, zoo hospital, and temporary morgue for the Necropolis Cemetery. Today, the “Residence” (as it is now called) is used for a variety of farm-related and community-based programs. It is the location of the Program Office.
Farmer’s Daily Chores
Learn and chat with the farmer during daily chores that may include animal feeding, egg collection, goat milking, horse grooming and mucking out the stalls, pens and paddocks. The farm currently doesn’t have a dairy cow or cow with calf and are unable to provide cow-milking demonstrations.
From Monday to Sunday at 11:30 a.m. join us for a Farmer Demo. Each day the farmer will present for 15 to 20 minutes on a different animal. After the talk, you can ask your own questions. The animal of the day and location of the demo is written on a chalkboard easel found on the main pathways.
- Recreation Discovery with Caregiver (1 month-4 years)
- Little Farmers with Caregiver (4-5 years)
- Pottery (6-12 years)
- Pottery (Adult)
Learn more about these programs.
Host your child’s (1-8 years) birthday party in the Meeting House. To book facility space in the Residence for your meetings or workshops, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-392-6794.
Accessing the Park
During the winter months (November 2 to April 30), the lower gate of the property is closed. Use the two main gates: one located at Winchester, and the other located at Riverdale Park West to access the park between from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visiting the Animals
Animals larger than a pig are available for viewing outside in their paddocks. Smaller animals can be found in the Pig and Poultry Barn, and the Lower Francey Barn. The Farmer Demo is held in the lower Francey Barn from 11:30 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. A different animal is presented each day, followed by a question and answer period.
Paths are cleared to all of the animal paddocks. The trails located at the lower end of the property are closed to the public and are not cleared. Stairs on the upper road to middle road are also closed and not cleared.
Located in the newly renovated Simpson House, you will find a resting and warming area, as well as public washrooms. Refreshments are not available on site during the winter months.
Riverdale Farm is a representation of a rural farm in Ontario. It is not a petting zoo. We ask that our visitors do not feed the farm animals, as hand feeding can encourage aggressive behaviour and discourage consumption of their controlled nutritional diet.
Note: Dogs, bicycles, in-line skates, foot scooters, ride toys, and vehicles are not permitted on the Farm property.