Island Adventure

No, we didn’t sneak off to Barbados, or even Cuba. Now that Peter and I are fully vaccinated and the Covid numbers are dwindling in Toronto, we are back to exploring our city. No need for us to travel any distance to find an adventure.

Our jaunt last Friday was to the Toronto Islands. We realized that neither of us had been there for several years. Peter remembers taking his kids to Centreville for the rides and the junk food when thy were little. I remember taking an adult ESL class there when it was raining. And raining, and raining. We all went home soaked. That was a field trip nobody will ever forget, especially the ones who got pneumonia. (Only joking!).

Our commute was easy: GO train for $1.97, Island Ferry return trip for $5.50, enough money left over for a gourmet lunch. The ferry ride gave us a glimpse of the day to come: families with little kids, grandparents, young couples, strollers, bikes and lots of dogs. The crowd easily dispersed once we had landed. Peter and I followed the biggest group, bypassing Centreville and finding ourselves at the fountain with its beautiful gardens. There were lots of colourful blooms, all except the hedges which were a dull brown. The gardener explained that boxwood moths had eaten all the leaves. Apparently they couldn’t find any concession stands open. Or maybe it’s another sign of climate change.

Next, we decided to follow the path towards Hanlan’s Point, where Peter knew there was a clothing-optional beach. On our way we saw signs of one of Toronto’s climate change initiatives; Deep Lake Water Cooling. This is an idea of Mayor David Miller – for cooling large office buildings and condos; so successful that it is being expanded on the Island. Further along near the beach we saw another environmental project: Sand Dune Restoration.

We also discovered some history. The original lighthouse on the island, built in 1808, is the oldest surviving lighthouse on the Great Lakes. The early lighthouse keepers formed the nucleus of the first Island community. In 1945 the light was changed from white to green, to distinguish it from the lights of the city skyline.

Heading further along the path, we kept searching for Hanlan’s Point. It was a long way and I started salivating over the people who passed us, riding those 2-seater bikes. It seemed to me that the wife could easily avoid pedaling while making small talk to distract the husband.

Then Peter spotted the sign for the clothing-optional beach and it was all I could do to hold him back. I wasn’t sure whether he wanted to take his clothes off, or just enjoy the view. Luckily, there was a small concession stand nearby and the food was enough distraction to get him back on the right path, so to speak. We had our gourmet lunch – beer and hot dogs – all by ourselves on the patio.

Eventually we got to Hanlan’s Point and found the statue of Ned Hanlan, Canada’ s most famous rower. Hanlan’s family lived on the Island and he made the news when, at age 5, he rowed all the way to the mainland by himself. Over his lifetime, Hanlan won enough competitions, including World Championship in 1880, to fill an entire monument. Hanlan was also a Toronto alderman in 1898 and 1899.

In the background, we suddenly noticed the CN Tower and the Skydome. It was time to catch the Hanlan’s Point Ferry back to the 21st Century. But we have made plans to return. Next time we’re going to rent one of those 2-seater bikes and ride to the other side of the Islands. Peter will be too busy pedaling to worry about the clothing-optional beach.


Lighthouse 1808
Clothing optional beach
Ned Hanlan
Back To the 21st Century
next time…..

7 thoughts on “Island Adventure

  1. Double WOW!
    You certainly have an eye for a photo op, Sue. Splendid!
    And a look back and into the present for me. Lots of neat lore!
    Good on Toronto to have a nude beach…maybe our artists’ group should go there instead of importing models from Toronto. Or maybe sketching is a no-no. I bet taking photos there is not a done thing.


  2. Thanks for this Island article. You bring back my earliest memories of summer at our family cottage at the Island. Wards. On the main island just where there is an opening between Algonquin Island and Mud or is it Snake island. Our family property was expropriated in the early 50s to form part of what is now park. I recall my dad being very public-spirited about it all, saying that such a wonderful spot ought to be available to everyone.

    My grandparents had an adjacent cottage to ours. My grandad was a bit of an invalid (at a younger age than my current 80 years) and we had a three-wheeler bike with a seat at the front for grandad. We Day boys would have shifts touring the gran about in Island style.

    Those were some fun days!

    The light is Gibraltar light? I think?


  3. As good a story as always Sue. You are so entertaining and amusing. Big thunderstorm going over us now at the cottage. Missing my two gals, Tabitha and Luisa, who went home with Andrew this morning. We had lots of fun playing Mahj and they joined in with my regular Monday group yesterday afternoon. Next week they have dance camp 😂😂. I will look forward to read your blog snd learn of your adventures again next week. Take care. Mxx

    Sent from my iPhone



  4. So disappointing.🥰🥰. I thought Peter would be more persistent. Sounded like a great day. I too have not been there since 1983 when the Ramsons and Mowat’s spent the day at Centerville. Bill


  5. I don’t think I’ve ever looked more like a drowned rat than on this day. But great memories just the same. We were troopers!


  6. You are so right about the adventures to be had in our great city. So much to explore. Time to head over the the islands, you have inspired me. Not been over in years.


  7. You made me want to be there right now, but I thank you for the tour you took us on. That was great.
    I have only visited the island once. That must have been 20 years ago. If I remember correctly there are no cars on the island. Am I remembering it correctly?


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