On a very recent trip to Toronto, we made a getaway to a whimsical place we used to frequent when we lived there. It used to be our special time together, hand-in-hand we’d walk through this unusual and quirky little island called Ward’s Island. He was not my husband then, but we always went off the beaten path to explore and wander away from the crowds. The Toronto Islands as a whole are a refreshing escape from downtown with a beautiful view of Lake Ontario on one side, and the city skyline on the other.
There are 3 islands not far from Toronto’s vibrant Downtown – Center Island, Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point. The Toronto Island airport is also located in Toronto’s Harbor, just offshore from the city’s downtown business and tourism districts. A $6 return ferry ride from the Toronto Harbor Ferry takes you to these beautiful islands. The ferries head to 3 destinations, the Center Island ferry is the busiest of them all, bursting at the seams with young families, strollers, picnic baskets and excited children. It transports these young families to the island where you can find a small farm, a theme park and lots more entertainment. I remember taking our daughters there when they were younger. Now when we visit, we tend to hop on the Ward’s Island ferry which is not as crowded. The ferry ride is all but 15 minutes long, the views of the city’s skyline are breathtaking, and escaping to an island that feels a world away from Downtown Toronto is hard to comprehend.
The sign as we disembark welcomes us to Ward’s Island, the eastern part of Toronto islands, this is where the 600 year-round residents live. It is a quiet, quaint and close-knit community. Development is restricted, there are a couple of cafes, a church, a senior home, but there are no stores. Folks from Wards Island need to buy their supplies from the mainland. Ward’s Island is Toronto’s well-kept secret. A lot of Torontonians (which is what the locals are referred as) have not even heard of Wards Island. Its unique and quirky feel is displayed in the story tale cottages, with its narrow streets and offbeat, unconventional community. There are no cars allowed on the island, a lot of people travel on bicycles. Some of the gardens are pretty manicured, yet others are in disarray. You can stroll from one island to the next, or rent bikes, kayak, explore hidden spots, stop at one of the few cafes for a bite or a refreshing drink or just relax on the beach.
Take a peek at some of the gardens – spring time has got to be the best time to view these gardens. We visited in August so a lot of the foliage was pretty spent.
We enjoyed some of the eclectic homes and flower beds. Stroll around the narrow streets and take in some of that “hippy” feel in the cottages, you will think you have traveled back in time to the ’70’s. The sweeping views of the skyline of Toronto were evident everywhere.
I’m off to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #83 where Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Elaine @ foodbod will be there to welcome us. Take a look around at their amazing blogs friends.