Visiting Ward’s Island

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #38! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

It was a transition week from summer to autumn, with a mix of sunny days and rainy days. First day of autumn was September 22. I think the plants need the rain since the last two weeks of August was boiling hot and dry and we haven’t had enough rain since.

One place that I wanted to visit this summer is Ward’s Island. The stars aligned and I made the trip with my family on a gorgeous morning. Even though there is regular ferry service from the mainland to Ward’s Island, we took the ferry to Centre Island then walked to Ward’s Island, about 3.2 km (2 miles).

Gorgeous view from Centre Island bridge.
Gorgeous view from Centre Island bridge.

Ward’s Island is on the east side of the islands. This is the residential part of the island where the Toronto Island community is located. For a brief history of Toronto Islands, click here.

We visited two historic sites: The Royal Canadian Yacht Club since 1854 and St. Andrew By-The-Lake Church (or the Island Church) since 1884.

The Royal Canadian Yacht Club across the water.
The Royal Canadian Yacht Club history.
The Royal Canadian Yacht Club history.
St. Andrew by-the-lake church entrance.
St. Andrew By-The-Lake Church entrance.
Side view of St. Andrew By-The-Lake Church.
Side view of St. Andrew By-The-Lake Church.
Paved path to the boardwalk.
We walked along the paved path to the boardwalk.
Boardwalk to Ward's Island.
Then along the boardwalk to Ward’s Island with beautiful park and lake views.
Lake view from the boardwalk.
The water was calm, clear and some areas sparkled like diamonds in the sunlight.
Ward's Island fire station.
We stopped by the current Fire Station to see the Fire and Water clock designed by artist Gordon Peteran in 1995.
Ward's island old fire station.
The older Fire Station is further east on the same street.
A cottage.
A cottage on Ward’s Island.
Green house.
I’d love to see the interior of this green house.
White house.
and this white house.
The Island Café.
The Island Café is the perfect spot for coffee, home baked treat, brunch, lunch, or sunset dinner.
Kale garden.
The Island Café is also operating a Kale Garden, a joint initiative with the City of Toronto. People are welcome to participate in maintaining the garden and get free kale.
The Riviera Ward's Island Kitchen.
The Riviera Ward’s Island Kitchen is a casual dining restaurant and bar.
Centre Island beach.
After a walk along Centre Island beach, we walked back to the ferry dock to catch the ferry home.
Toronto skyline.
The ferry ride offers fantastic panoramic views of Toronto skyline.

Clear blue skies, pleasant temperatures, beautiful nature, and happy family time. Life is good.

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Fit N Fun Walk: Toronto Islands

Growing up in Toronto, one place that holds many fond memories for me is Toronto Islands – also called the Island, or Toronto Island Park. It’s located in Lake Ontario, a 12-minute ferry ride from downtown Toronto. As an adult, I try to visit the Island as often as I can to savour this beautiful jewel. Here’s my ten favourite activities on the Island:

1. Ride the ferry

There are three main ferry docks on the Island: Ward’s Island, Centre Island, and Hanlan’s Point. Ferry boats go more often to Centre Island than Ward’s Island or Hanlan’s Point because it’s the most popular.

In the summer, the ferries are usually full but service is frequent. The upper deck has open sides for passengers who like a good view and the breeze. The lower deck is more enclosed with glass windows for passengers who bring their bikes or like to be sheltered. Once the ferry departs, the views of the city and Toronto Harbour are wonderful.

Ferry to Centre Island
Ferry approaching Centre Island

2. Walk on the Grass

How often do you see an official invitation to walk on the grass? I love this “Please Walk on the Grass” sign. The green colour has a soothing effect as soon as you arrive on Centre Island.

Walk on the grass sign
Please Walk on the Grass sign

3. Visit the gardens

The gardens and fountains on Centre Island add visual interests as well as provide welcoming places to relax your mind and body when you need a break from walking.

Main fountain on Centre Island
Main fountain on Centre Island

4. Walk the pier

I like to walk to the end of Centre Island pier to see the expansive view of Lake Ontario. It makes me want to inhale deeply and exhale slowly. On a calm and sunny day, it’s a peaceful scenery of the lake dotted with sailboats.

Lake view from Centre Island pier
View of Lake Ontario from Centre Island pier

At the pier, the directional sign says it’s 65 km to Niagara Falls, 1269 km to Halifax, 3361 km to Vancouver, and 4521 km to the North Pole. Having been to the first three destinations, I can say that they’re all well worth visiting. Poor Santa has a long way to come and visit us every year.

Directional sign at the pier on Centre Island
Directional sign at Centre Island pier

5. Have a picnic or Lunch al fresco

I love to have a picnic at one of the tables by the water. If you like to eat out, go for lunch al fresco at Carousel Cafe, or at one of the island restaurants.

Carousel restaurant
Carousel Cafe

6. Paddle on the water

The Island is actually a group of 15 islands inter-connected by pathways and bridges. You can rent a canoe or kayak to paddle in the calm harbour where swans, ducks, and birds also share the waterways.

Canoe on Centre Island
Centre Island waterway

7. Go to the beach

Centre Island beach typically achieves annual blue flag certification for its water quality. It’s supervised from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. from June to September. On a hot summer day, the beach is perfect for taking a swim.

Centre Island Beach
Centre Island Beach

8. Ride a bike

I’ve biked from one end of the Island to the other and all over the Island. Bring your own bike on the ferry or rent a bike on Centre Island to explore interesting landmarks such as Gibraltar Point Lighthouse which was built in 1808 and was said to be haunted.

Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

9. Run or Walk 5K

The Island is approximately 5 kms long from Ward’s Island to Hanlan’s Point, a perfect distance for a 5K walk or run. I’ve finished several 5K running races here.

Map of Toronto Island Park
Map of Toronto Island Park

10. View Toronto’s evolving skyline

Before leaving Centre Island, while waiting for the return ferry, I always enjoy the view of Toronto across the harbour and take a few photos of the evolving Toronto’s skyline. Home sweet home!

Toronto skyline summer 2019
Toronto skyline in August 2019

I love that the ferries operate year-round. Return tickets for adults cost CAD$8.20, with discounts for students and seniors. It’s the best deal for an island experience so close to the city. I hope you enjoy Toronto Islands through my lens.

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