Most visitors and even city residents miss visiting the Toronto Islands. There are 15 islands in this chain dotting the western part of Lake Ontario not far from downtown. So, from downtown Toronto, you can take a ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal which is at the foot of Bay St. and Queen's Quay. It will take you around 13 minutes to reach the island and the fee is $7.50 for adults and $5 for seniors and students.
Once there, you can walk or bike around the islands which are interconnected with pathways and boardwalks.
It was in Spring when I took this picture so the waves were stronger.
We were lucky to have been brought to the Island by a member of the sailing club located there so we had a delicious breakfast in the club house and even better took the boat of the sailing club. This picture was taken in the balcony of the club and the background is downtown Toronto with the iconic CN Tower.
It was quite a privilege to have been brought there by someone who has lived on the island. We got to know what it is like to live there all year long. I was surprised to see how many houses and quaint cottages there are and how difficult it is to get a place here. You have to pay to maintain your name on the wait list and it could take forever to get one. A friend just took out her name on the list knowing that she would never be able to get a place in her lifetime.
Below is a picture of one of the cottages on the island. It looks very idyllic especially in the Spring.
Toronto Islands is a 150-year old community with about with about 600 people living in 262 houses and cottages.
Toronto Islands offer interesting places to explore. In fact, if you want to do it leisurely, you can stay overnight or for a few days and enjoy the peace and quiet of the islands, a stark contrast from the busy downtown core of Toronto. There are pathways, boardwalks and bike paths connecting the islands. It is totally car free.
For those who have kids, the Amusement Park in the Centre Island would be your best destination. It offers all kinds of rides including swan boats going around a small lagoon, a petting zoo, a maze and a beach.
One of the places you can hang out in is Ward's Island. The most visited place may just be the Rectory Cafe as many people from downtown Toronto come to enjoy dining al fresco on very delicious and tasty food without paying exorbitant prices. We had lunch here when we visited and thoroughly enjoyed the food.
Below is the Willow Square, a community initiative based on the work of Maggie Howarth, a renowned pebble mosaic artist. The island residents did this to express their life, their history and their natural world. It is the heart of the community.
In summer, you can enjoy the beaches in the islands. You can have a picnic, swim, sun tan, or walk. Centre Island Beach, Gibraltar Point Beach, Hanlan’s Point Beach and Ward’s Island Beach.
Below is a recycling depot in the island. The island is tiny so every step to maintain it is taken assiduously by the residents. It would be a great help if you don't leave more garbage there.
And if you're one of those who love an adventure, go and visit one of Toronto's oldest building. Dating back to 1808, the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on Toronto Islands is rumoured to be haunted. So, on a full moon, head there and you might just hear the scream of the first lighthouse keeper, JP Rademueller, who was murdered by two soldiers at Fort York. It seems his screams can be heard from one part of the island to the other.
For more on the interesting history of the islands, visit this site.