Islands for all tastes

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.

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The Center Island ferry taking young families with children on a fun day out.

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We hopped on the Ward’s Island ferry instead.

IMG_4574The 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.

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IMG_4602  IMG_4596Each of the cottage homes had varying levels of charm and character, but some were in a rather dilapidated state.

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Don’t you just love the red door with the half moon and star motifs?

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How many watering cans must this family own?

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IMG_4633There is a boardwalk which overlooks beautiful Lake Ontario, it was a gorgeous day so there were many sailboats out.

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IMG_4622 After a leisurely lunch at an outdoor cafe, we took the ferry back to Toronto approaching skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of city life. IMG_4647A view from the bowsprit

IMG_4652I’m not so sure that I’d visit the island in the winter time, but summer time ……. and the living on Ward’s Island is relaxed and easy!  Thank you for letting me take you on a pictorial tour. 🙂

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.

52 comments

    1. Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I clicked on yours and am following you now. What a great blog you have on all things Toronto :). We used to live there, so it’s like a second home to us. I just did a post on Quebec City too, will be looking forward to exploring more on your blog and comparing notes.

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  1. How beautiful! Wonderful to be able to see somewhere new to me, and through your eyes. The homes are so gorgeous, and the blue of the sea is stunning.
    Thank you for sharing this with us at Fiesta Friday this week 🙂 have a great weekend x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh you’ll definitely have to pay Ward’s a visit then. We used to go to Center Island when our children were younger, but now we head right away to Ward’s as it is more laid back and beautiful.

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  2. What beautiful pictures and what a lovely trip that must have been. You captured so many aspects of the islands, the busy city in the background, the languid pathways, and the quaint and pretty homes! I didn’t know about these islands, but they’re gorgeous… Toronto has so many places to explore! I’ll be visiting soon and I’m even more excited now 🙂

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    1. Toronto definitely has so much to explore, and how wonderful that so much of it can be done by public transportation. These islands are just a 15 minute ferry ride from the mainland, and definitely offers different settings for everyone, from families to lovers to loners :). Thanks for stopping by, enjoy your weekend. xx

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  3. Wonderful photos, and you photographed some homes we did not since we got to visit certain ones both front and back. I think it would be pretty in winter, similar to around the falls and the ice with all that water churning around the island. But like you, I am not sure I would really want to visit then. I just think the view back to the city is spectacular.

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    1. Thanks so much, yes the homes kept me distracted for most of the time, unfortunately the gardens were pretty much done when we visited. I imagine the spring would be lovely, and you’re right, no thank you to visiting in the winter time.

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    1. Thanks Naina, I loved that house with the red door too. It seemed like a fairy tale wonder. Your feature last week really deserved the spotlight, you’re just so talented. xo

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  4. Thank you for aking me back to Ward’s Loretta. As charming a sever and your camera captured the quaintness perfectly. How fun is it to fly Porter, walk off the one ferry and to hop onto another now? Have you ever been to Mt Gretna PA? Same cottage feel as Ward’s with gorgeous gardens and all the streets named after colleges? Close enough for a day trip from DE, they have lots of special events such as jazz festvivals and art shows as well as summer concerts and theater. You would love it. Plan a stop at Jiggers and have the Baked Alaska Sundae, all homemade!

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    1. Thanks Johanne, I’ve never been to Mt. Gretna Pa, I know there’s just so much to see around these parts, I’ll have to check it out as we do enjoy jazz. I hope you saw your boys off to college and all went well.

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    1. Thanks for re-visiting that quaint island with me Linda. Where in Canada were you? We are fortunate enough to be able to still visit quite often as we still have family and friends there. Just a 10 hour drive, or a 1 hour flight from us now.

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  5. Loretta,
    Your photos and vivid description took me on a magical journey of the island! What a spectacular place so well captured by you! I felt like I was there!
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Patti, I think my camera got quite a workout. This island was definitely worth capturing the quirkiness. Thanks for taking the time to visit with me through my blog xo

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