7 News Archive
Cherry Beach

Cherry Beach, originally called Clarke Beach Park after the local alderman who founded it, was established as a recreational beach in the 1930s. Established close to the mouth of the Don River, Cherry Beach was originally very close to a heavily industrial area and still is located on Toronto Harbour Commission Property. In spite of this nearby industry that might have created a health hazard, Cherry Beach was and continues to be a popular destination for families and youth.

In the mid-1970s the Toronto Harbour Commission announced that they would eventually reclaim the beach (which was at the time being rented by the City of Toronto) to build a container port. Fortunately for beach goers they did not follow through with their plans and now the beach sits close to a massive re-vitalization project imposed on the surrounding Lower Don Lands beginning in the early 2000s.

Through the years stories circulated about how the police would use the beach as a remote place to beat up people they had picked up that night. Immortalized in their song "Cherry Beach Express," Pukka Orchestra described a practise by which police would pick up people and then beat confessions out of them whether they had committed a crime or not.

7 News: July 12, 1975

Pukka Orchestra: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QfdHPoU300

John Bodner, “Cherry Beach Express: Rumour and Contemporary Legend among Homeless Youth,” The Journal of International Society for Contemporary Legend Research, Vol 6. (2003)

Jennifer Bonnell, Reclaiming the Don: An Environmental History of Toronto's Don River Valley (Toronto: U of T Press, 2014).

Seven News articles about Cherry Beach:

Cherry Beach Threatened (see p. 6)

What Fate for Cherry Beach? (see p. 1)

Trial Bus to Cherry Beach (see p. 2)

Cherry Beach may be ruined for recreation (see p. 1)

Clean up Cherry Beach (see p. 2)

Cherry Street Bridge (see p. 3)

U.S. wastes on way to Cherry Beach (see p. 1)