Seven Spots That Make Toronto Islands a Special Place
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Enjoy your visit!
You can discover here our take of the Toronto Islands with Les Archivistes Island Vessel ceramic bowls: