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Seven Spots That Make Toronto Islands a Special Place

Published on 11/03/2021

1- Algonquin Island’s Unique Neighbourhood

Tucked away in the inner harbor sits an intriguing community of about a hundred homes.  The graceful wooden bridge on Algonquin Bridge Road that you must cross is just enough of an obstacle to keep the hordes of tourists out of the way.  It’s on this very bridge in 1980 that the local residents opposed the Sherif delivering an eviction notice to them all. Great win for them all!  Walking down Ojibway Avenue you might feel that you are miles away from the city, but as you reach the end the Toronto Skyline reveals itself in all its glory!  Some nice park benches are set in strategic spots along Seneca Avenue, enjoy the view!

Four red tulips in front of ferns.  Toronto skyline and CN Tower in the background.

2- Hanlan’s Point Clothing Optional Beach

One quickly forgets that they are only 2.5km away from the CN Tower when they set foot on the soft sand of Hanlan’s point beach!  In a stunning decision for “Toronto the Good” in 1999, a pilot project for Canada’s second official nude beach was approved and was made permanent in 2002.  Definitely one of the more relaxed spots in the city from May to September, you can swim if you dare; the water quality is officially excellent and approved by Blue Flag Standard.  Easy to spend a day here, but you must pack and bring everything as there are few to no goods, drinks, and food to be purchased close-by.

View of the Hanlan's Point Pier.  CN Tower and Toronto Skyline in the background.

Wooden entryway to a path leading to Hanlan's Point beachOn a sandy beach, Goose Island beer can, yellow and blue hawaianas flip-flops.

3- Abandoned piers of the Eastern Channel

The Toronto islands used to be a peninsula, but successive storms cut through the sandy banks and created a permanent island in 1858.  Since then, some concrete docks were made along what is now called the Eastern Channel.  Now abandoned and accessible through an overgrown pathway, the 600m long structure provides nice views of Cherry Beach, the Lower Don Land development project, and East Waterfront communities.  With very few visitors, it's easy to spot a variety of wildlife, from otters to geese.

Rusty metal fence on a concrete pier of Lake Ontario.  CN Tower and Toronto skyline in the background.

Eight Canada Geese on an old concrete pier of Lake Ontario.  CN tower and Toronto Skyline in the background.

4- Grassy fields of Olympic Island

Home of the former 1975 Canadian Open Frisbee Championships!  The expansive grassy fields make this one of the best spots for sports and activities.  A highlight is definitively the chairs and BBQ spots along the waterfront, with a mesmerizing skyline view.

Four colourful wooden Muskoka Chairs facing Lake Ontario.  CN Tower and Toronto Skyline in the background.

5- Snake Island and its raw wilderness

Blink and you will miss the small pedestrian bridge that leads to this undeveloped island!  Not much to do here, but that is definitively the attraction of the place.  Scouts and Guirlguides can actually obtain a camping permit on this island!  Lucky them, the twinkling skyline must be quite the sight from their tents under the mature pine trees.  A nice little beach with huge driftwood logs completes the scenery.

Wooden bridge leading to green Snake Island.

Two ducks on the sandy shores of Lake Ontario.  CN Tower and Toronto Skyline in the background.

Picnic table on Toronto's Snake Island beach.  CN Tower and Toronto Skyline in the background.

6- Gibraltar Point Lighthouse for history buffs

A nice reminder of the past importance of the Toronto Harbour and the main mode of transport for goods coming and exiting York, former Toronto.  Having been built in 1809, it is now the second oldest surviving lighthouse in Canada.  It is now tucked away within the forest of Hanlan’s Point, but used to be just a few meters from the shifting shoreline.  Haunted site amateurs beware, the disappearance of the first keeper and finding of nearby human remains anchored the reputation of the lighthouse as one of Toronto’s haunted places!

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse on a nice summer day.

Closeup of the weathered red wooden door of Gibraltar Point Lighthouse.

7- Off-Season, for the “away from it all” feeling

More of a place in time than an actual spot, it is easy to overlook the Toronto Islands once the hot days of summer wear off, but it is very rewarding to take the time and extend the season.  The Ferrys over severely cut back on their schedule and service in the low season, so you have to plan a little bit more in advance, but in return, peace, quiet, solitude, and beauty!  

Seagull and driftwood on the sandy shores of Toronto's Centre Island.

Lake Ontario taken from Toronto Island Ferry.  CN Tower and Toronto Skyline in the background.

Simon Devost on a vintage tractor, on a crips autumn day.

Autumn view of the Centre Island Boardwalk.

Enjoy your visit!

You can discover here our take of the Toronto Islands with Les Archivistes Island Vessel ceramic bowls: