In A Word: Daylight




Noun: (ˈdeɪˌlaɪt)

1.  the light of day; sunlight

2.  dawn; daybreak

3.  full understanding or knowledge of something hidden or obscure

4.  the approaching end of a task or an ordeal

Our journalism has been and always will be free.

For as little as $5 per month, you can help us continue to deliver stories that shine light on a better world. Contribute Now.

to see daylight ahead

5.  [pl.]; Slang, Obsolete

the eyes

6.  [pl.]; Informal


Of course, we know what ‘daylight’ means, right? It’s what we experience between dawn and dusk. Except when it means something else, something that’s pretty magical. 

“Buried under cities across Canada, in culverts and tunnels, are networks of rivers and streams that once nourished the surrounding landscapes,” reads a story on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) website. “Now, there are efforts to uncover or “daylight” some of them, restoring habitat for plants and animals, while helping prevent urban flooding.”

Daylighting is the practice of revealing these streams and rivers, and restoring their health. Daylighting Rivers, a website dedicated to hidden rivers in Europe — including efforts to engage youth in daylighting — notes that “there has been a growing interest in the restoration of natural water flows in urban areas by re-exposing such hidden rivers to the environment — through a process of deculverting, or ‘daylighting.’  The daylighting of urban rivers can create new habitat for plants and animals, potentially reduce flood risks, and create new ‘green corridors’ through urban areas with benefits for recreational and other services.”

The CBC highlights a specific instance of daylighting, partly conducted by a group of schoolgirls at a private school in the middle of Toronto. In 2013, the school had invited a landscape architect to help create a natural playground and outdoor classroom. In the process of completing his task, the architect realized that daylighting a section of Burke Brook, which lay buried in a culvert at the bottom of a ravine, was not only beneficial, but necessary. And that’s when the students got involved, thanks to the “synergy” between what they were learning in the classroom and what was taking place right on school property. 

two siblings wading in river
Daylighting creates new opportunities for outdoor classrooms to explore urban rivers. – Courtesy of PickPik

The work continues, with students undertaking projects that protect the daylighted waterway, such as planting native shrubs and wildflowers in the floodplain to stabilize the banks of the brook and absorb water from heavy rains, and placing logs and branches in the stream to moderate waterflow and act as a filtration system.  

Curious to know more about daylighting? Or what to look for to uncover these buried waterways? CBC has a fascinating interactive feature to help. Or read more about the winners of Daylighting Rivers’ international competition among students. 

Daylight might well be what we enjoy when the sun has risen, but it also means getting these long-buried rivers and streams out into the open, and finally shining a little light on them. 

Latest Stories

Leslie Garrett
Leslie Garrett
Leslie Garrett is a journalist and the Editorial Director of Bluedot, Inc. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, and more. She is the author of more than 15 books, including The Virtuous Consumer, a book on living more sustainably. Leslie lives most of the year in Canada with her husband, three children, three dogs and three cats. She is building a home on Martha's Vineyard.
Read More

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here