Riverdale Farm is a historic working farm with 7.5 scenic acres including wooded areas, ponds, and butterfly-herb-flower-vegetable gardens. There are various farm animals and buildings such as the pig and poultry barn and the Residence.

Riverdale Farm is a representation of a rural farm in Ontario.

The following are not allowed on the farm:

  • dogs
  • bicycles
  • in-line skates
  • foot scooters
  • ride toys
  • vehicles

Accessing the Park

Use the two main gates – one located at Winchester, and the other located at Riverdale Park West – to access the park.

Visiting the Animals

Please do not feed the farm animals, since hand feeding can encourage aggressive behaviour and discourage the eating of controlled nutritional diets.

Riverdale Farm officially opened on September 9, 1978. Originally owned by John Scadding, the City of Toronto purchased the land that became Riverdale Park in 1856. The Riverdale Zoo opened in 1894, becoming Toronto’s first zoo and operating until it closed in 1974, when the animals were relocated to the new Metro Toronto Zoo. From 1974 to 1978, many of the Riverdale Zoo buildings were removed and the site was 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 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.

The Driveshed

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.

Snow Clearing and Trails

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 the middle road are also closed and not cleared.

Warming Area

Located in the Simpson House is a resting and warming area, with public washrooms.