If you’ve ever been a northbound driver on Toronto’s Don Valley Parkway, you may have noticed, for a split second, a colorful tunnel on the right side of the highway. Officially dubbed the Rainbow Tunnel by the City of Toronto, the bright mural has become a beloved part of the scenery.
The rainbow wasn’t always a welcome part of the city. When it first appeared on the old railway tunnel in the early 1970s, the North York Parks department painted over the colorful piece of outsider art. The mural was the work of B.C. Johnson, a Norwegian teenager who decided to use his paintbrush to brighten up the dreary Toronto days and cheer up its residents. He originally painted it as a memorial to a friend who had passed away. He continued to repaint the rainbow each time it was removed. Community members even joined his quest to enliven the tunnel’s entrance.
Eventually, the city learned to embrace the colorful creation. It had the rainbow revamped and restored to its former glory in 2013, with the help of an arts organization called Mural Routes. The tunnel’s interior also received a much-needed makeover.
The Rainbow Tunnel can be reached from Moccasin Trail Park via a part of the East Don Trail. Despite its roadside location, the park itself is an urban oasis that acts like a serene getaway from the noise of the big city. You can walk right under the tunnel and along the Don River, where you may catch a sight of the salmon migration, if you’re lucky!
Know Before You Go
There is parking at the entrance of Moccasin Trail Park. It's then an easy five minute walk to the tunnel.