Loving Life in October 2022

Hello and welcome to my blog! I’m glad you’re here. It’s week 43 in 2022 and I’m hosting Weekend Coffee Share linkup #93. Come on in for a coffee or tea and let’s chat.

It’s the last weekend in October and a good time for me to reflect on my 2022 focus on Health, Home and Leisure. Here’s my monthly update for October.

Health

Fall colours have been stunning this October. I enjoy views of yellow, orange and red leaves and feeling the crisp, cool air when I go cycling and walking. There’s no shortage of interesting places waiting to be explored.

One of the parks that I was thrilled to revisit this month is Tommy Thompson Park. I wrote about it here. I cycled on the Waterfront Trail, passed the brand new Cherry Street South bridge to Cherry Beach and all the way to and through Tommy Thompson Park. It was pure bliss to be surrounded by the sights, sounds, and feels of nature on the trail and at the park on a gorgeous, sunny day.

Home

After an active summer with monthly out-of-town trips, October is the month for me to relax at home with family, reconnect with friends and complete home maintenance tasks.

I enjoyed small gatherings with family and close friends to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and Thanksgiving. It so happens that the special occasions spread out in October so there is a celebration every week. It was wonderful to catch up on what’s been happening with everyone.

In addition, there was a coffee date with my sister, a 8 km family walk on Toronto Islands, another 8 km urban walk with a friend, and a coffee date with another friend. We visited the Manulife Elevate Global Photography Exhibition in a beautiful garden and the World Press Photo Exhibition 2022 at Brookfield Place.

For the family walk on Toronto Islands, we walked from Hanlan’s Point to Ward’s Island, visiting the beaches and trails in between. It was a gorgeous morning with blue sky, soft white clouds, calm wind, and the water mirrored the scenery.

Leisure

I balanced outdoor physical and social activities with indoor quiet and creative activities. I baked, listened to podcasts and music, read books, sorted my pictures, wrote blog posts, and researched potential travel destinations.

Photographing Public Art – In August 2012, a group of twenty three emerging youth artists and volunteers created an amazing 80 foot long mural from beautiful tiles and grout, under the artistic guidance of artist Cristina Delago.

Here is the Shore Stories mosaic mural located by the Toronto’s Ferry Terminal exit. Enjoy the following images and if you have 6 minutes and 20 seconds, watch this YouTube video on how the mural was created.

Toronto Harbour and ferry mosaics
Shore Stories mosaic mural

Writing – I’ve included the links for October’s posts in case you missed any and want to catch up:

Overall

I’m grateful to have special occasions to look forward to and enjoy with family and friends throughout a beautiful October. I hope to share the first post on my adventures on the Bay of Fundy next week.

Happy November!

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16K Walk to Hanlan’s Point

Hello and welcome to Weekend Coffee Share #44! I’m glad you’re here. Please come on in, help yourself to a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate at my coffee station and let’s chat.

The first week of November was cool with a mix of sun, clouds and brilliant Fall colours. Before jumping into November, I wanted to reflect on October and what a wonderful month it was. I had a beautiful Thanksgiving with my family, I stayed healthy, I enjoyed time with my niece, friends and neighbour, and I had plenty of fun from my leisure pursuits.

I chose to write about one event that combined three elements that I value: family, fitness and fun. After a wonderful visit to Ward’s Island in September, I planned another trip with my family to Hanlan’s Point on Thanksgiving long weekend in October.

Hanlan’s Point is on the west side of the Toronto Islands. Unlike Ward’s Island, there is no residential home in Hanlan’s Point. We come here mainly for nature and a few historic points of interest. For a brief history of Toronto Islands, click here.

The ferry service from the mainland to Hanlan’s Point was temporarily suspended so we boarded the ferry to Centre Island then walked towards Hanlan’s Point. The weather was sunny with daytime high temperature 22C (72F), ideal for being outdoors.

View towards Hanlan's Point.
A beautiful morning and adventures await. Looking towards Hanlan’s Point.
Island Public/ Natural Science School.
First, we visited Island Public/ Natural Science School which dates back to 1888. The current school was built in 1999 with an environmental focus.
Notice - Coyotes.
We stayed vigilant after seeing this Notice of Coyotes.
Island Water Treatment Plant.
Next, we passed the Island Water Treatment Plant.
Island Water Treatment Plant information board.
We learned about its history and important function.
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse.
We visited Gibraltar Point Lighthouse. Constructed in 1808-09, it’s the oldest surviving lighthouse on the Great Lakes.
Trout Pond.
We walked the circumference of the Trout Pond and admired the reflections in the water.
Grey heron and snowy egret.
We saw a grey heron and a snowy egret in the wetlands.
The main trail to Hanlan's Point.
We walked on the paved main trail…
Trail into the woods.
then headed into the woods.
View of the CN Tower.
We caught a glimpse of the CN Tower.
Ned Hanlan's statue.
We reached Hanlan’s Point ferry dock where Edward Hanlan’s monument is located. The statue was sculpted by Emanuel Hahn.
"Ned" Hanlan's sculling achievements.
We learned about “Ned” Hanlan’s sculling achievements, including his world championship win in 1880.
Ned Hanlan Tugboat.
Nearby is Ned Hanlan Tugboat, built in 1932, retired in 1967, and named after world champion rower Ned Hanlan.
Gibraltar Point Beach.
We skipped the clothing-optional Hanlan’s Point Beach and walked to Gibraltar Point Beach for beautiful nature: Sky, sunlight, water, sand and shells.

Back on the trail, we looked up to see bright red wild berries and looked down to find a variety of fungi in the grass.

We stopped by Franklin’s Children Garden which is inspired by Franklin the Turtle from the celebrated book series written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark. It’s an interactive garden for families.

We explored the seven sections of this garden: Franklin’s Pollination station, Hide-and-Seek Garden, Snail Trail, Little Sprouts Garden, Turtle Pond, Pine Grove, and TD Storybook Place Amphitheatre.

We continued to Far Enough Farm on Centre Island to meet the animals there. The farm was quiet since the animals have left for their winter home north of Toronto. We hope to be back and pet them next spring.

The direct distance from Centre Island to Hanlan’s Point is merely 3.25 km (2 miles). In typical Natalie the Explorer fashion, we had a lot of fun exploring and enjoying the beauty all around us.

How much fun? We walked 16 kilometers (10 miles) and came home smiling! This outing was one of the highlights of my October.

Linked to #LifeThisWeek, #PPAC21, #TheChangingSeasons, #ThursdayDoors.

How was your week? What were the highlights in October for you?

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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.

How was your week? What fun plans do you have for the weekend?

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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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