Island Life

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 theΒ  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

47 thoughts on “Island Life

  1. I don’t know why but people tend to ignore the waterfront and all that goes with when they write about Toronto, Carol. I’m so used to seeing it as a cosmopolitan, busy city, and bitter cold for some of the year, that it’s wonderful to see this island paradise. Thank you so much for sharing. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

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    • You’re right about the weather, Jo. Our daughter experienced some amazing extremes of temperature. Toronto is an amazing city and the waterfront area is quite small. But the island is certainly a wonderful place to spend a day on.

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    • It was certainly very clear and clean along that part and also in Niagara. I can’t say for the whole lake though as we didn’t see it all. The lake is huge, second largest of the Great Lakes. We didn’t see anywhere in Canada that appeared to be overly polluted.

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    • We took our lunch with us so I didn’t take notice of any restaurants. There was a pretty cafΓ© close to the ferry terminal on Ward’s Island. When we were planning this trip our daughter was adamant we needed to come in July. She said it was the only way to guarantee warm weather.

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  2. What a beautiful place to live. I really like the idea of walking or cycling everywhere. The inhabitants must be very healthy. I love the look of those shady pathways, but couldn’t help wondering if there are lots of mosquitoes in the humidity of summer. 😯

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    • It was a wonderful day, Judy. The islands are only 5.5 km long in total, so having no cars really isn’t a problem but the people living there do have to go on the ferries to the city for everything. Some of the homes we saw were simply stunning. I think retirement might be very pleasant there.

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  3. Pingback: A Loo With a View – The Canadian Edition | The Eternal Traveller

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