Canada #31 Toronto Island Park
In the summer months, crowded ferries travel back and forth all day long from their terminal in downtown Toronto to Toronto Island Park. The curving beaches, wide flat cycle paths and walking tracks on the islands are busy, and the amusement park and children’s farm are popular attractions.
Even though the 15 islands which make up the park cover an area of just 330 hectares, it’s not difficult to leave the crowds behind and spend time in more peaceful surroundings. There are 262 private homes and more than 600 permanent residents on the islands, and a guided walking tour is the perfect way to learn about their relaxed island lifestyle.
On a warm summer’s day we join long term residents Susan and Linda for a 90 minute exploration of the residential communities on Ward’s Island and Algonquin Island. We learn that the islands were not always islands; they were once joined to the shore of Lake Ontario by a sandbank. Wild storms in 1852 and 1858 washed away the sand, creating a wide channel linking Toronto’s inner harbour and Lake Ontario.
No cars are allowed on the islands and most people travel on foot or by bicycle. Six bridges connect the islands and shaded footpaths meander through the quiet neighbourhoods.
With warm humid weather in summer, most homes are surrounded by lush green gardens overflowing with flowers. We pause often to admire the beautiful gardens and the wildlife they attract. Houses on the city side of the island also have enviable views across the water to Toronto’s CBD.
When our walk with Susan and Linda is finished, we say farewell and continue along a broad timber boardwalk. Beginning at Ward’s Island Beach, it follows the curves of the shoreline to the pier at Centreville.
On this sunny day the calm water of Lake Ontario gently laps the sandy shores of the island beaches. Watersports enthusiasts as well as the local wildlife take advantage of the glorious conditions.
As we come closer to Centreville, we hear once more the sounds of daytrippers enjoying themselves. It might only be a 13 minute ferry ride from the city, but they must all feel like they’re on an island holiday.
Join Jo for Monday Walks