Toronto, I Love You Blog

Toronto Waterfront, I Love You

Toronto's waterfront has a bad rap. It's talked about often in Toronto Council, and residents are often angry that it pales in comparison to the waterfronts of other great cities. It's separated from the city by the crumbling Gardiner Expressway, and doesn't have a lot of activities for tourists. 

That being said - I think it's just beautiful! I've always been attracted to water and I find it very calming so whenever I feel stressed out, the waterfront is my first stop!

Bay and Queen's Quay - look at that stunning view. March 2012

Bay and Queen's Quay - look at that stunning view. March 2012

One of the things I love about our waterfront is the view of the Toronto Island (you can read more about how much I love that place here). If you walk just 10 minutes south of the Financial District (which I did on many many lunch hours oh god I hate that area), you are presented with this beautiful view and can forget that you work a crappy desk job surrounded by nothing but concrete! 

Sunset by Ontario Place while biking home.

Sunset by Ontario Place while biking home.

I also am an avid cyclist (except right now cause it's cold and I'm a weiner). When I worked in the Financial District, I often wanted to unwind after work, and biking in Toronto is anything but relaxing UNLESS you can bike the Martin Goodman trail home. Luckily I live near High Park and this trail is perfect for me! During the spring months, this was often the sight I was greeted with on my way home. Sometimes I would even stop and sit on a bench for a bit to soak it all in! 

Humber Bay Arch Bridge - aka the Turtle Bridge. You have to go to see why.

Humber Bay Arch Bridge - aka the Turtle Bridge. You have to go to see why.

So you don't work in the Financial District (lucky you!) and you don't commute by bike but you like going on leisurely weekend jaunts! LUCKY YOU! The Martin Goodman Trail extends out to Etobicoke. From there you can take a path up the Humber River, or continue on out to the Humber Bay West Park (more on that in a moment). Either way you get to go over this great bridge. It's beautiful during the day, the view is beautiful by night, and there is a fun reason I call it the Turtle Bridge (I actually had to look up the real name because I've only called it Turtle Bridge).

Am I in Hamilton? Am I in Buffalo? NO! I'M IN TORONTO!

Am I in Hamilton? Am I in Buffalo? NO! I'M IN TORONTO!

If you chose to keep going west instead of going up the Humber River trail, you will see a lot of condos (bleh) but you will come across a park with a butterfly pond (COOL!!!) and a bridge leading you into Humber Bay West park. I really love exploring places so one day I decided to just bike into this park on my own and start taking the trails. There are several of them, but they lead out to the amazing view above! CHECK OUT THAT SEXY CITY! It's also got a little beach on it that you can hang out on (though I haven't spent any time there). There are a few benches facing the water so you can just relax, bring your sweetheart, and have a real romantic time, or just take some pictures to make everyone think you went on a trip without having to leave the city.

Here are where the above photos were taken, if you ever want to check them out!

Here are where the above photos were taken, if you ever want to check them out!

ALSO - TORONTO, I LOVE YOU OPENED YESTERDAY! Hooray! See you at Bad Dog!

Toronto Islands, I Love You

by Stephanie Malek

Even when you love a place, sometimes you just need a change of pace and scenery. You need to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and hide by the water, surrounded by trees and frisbee-golfers. Toronto is very lucky in that we have the unique ability to feel far away by simply taking a ferry for 20 minutes to the Toronto Islands.

When you go to High School in the big city, there isn't a lot of opportunity to disappear. Friends who grew up in the country tell stories of bonfires, and barn parties, and hiding out in the woods doing drugs. We had the Toronto Islands. With all the small, connected islands, there was always opportunity for us to disappear and hang out as a group, or go swimming in fountains, or play tag in the maze, or get caught streaking by a group of boy scouts and become a mini-legend among Toronto boy scouts for at least a few years (I wish I was joking about this).

As an adult, the islands still hold a huge amount of charm. Whether it's walking through the housing community on Ward's Island, getting naked (to your level of comfort) on Hanlan's Point Nude Beach (there are many non-nude beaches too and the water is swimmable on the far-side of the Island), or going on the Log Flume or Haunted Barrel Works in Centerville. The Island is a romantic getaway for a date, a family fun centre of activity, a beautiful place to watch fireworks, and just a lovely boat ride. 

For artists in the city, be sure to check out Artscape Gibraltar Point and their residencies - because who doesn't want to live on the Island for a bit to help inspire creativity. The centre is in the old Toronto Island School - where Toronto school kids would get shipped to the Island for a week to learn about nature, hear creepy ghost stories about the lighthouse (don't step on the thirteenth step!), and play predator-and-prey. Going back there for musical festivals always brought a twinge of nostalgia for me.
 

The city-scape from the Island can't be beat - watching the sun set from the beach on Hanlan's Point is one of the most beautiful things you can see in the city. You can also take your bike over on the ferry to be able to get the most out of your trip. 

Another favourite on the Island is the Far Away Farm in Centerville - it's free to the public and has a lot of different animals! There have been a lot of discussions about closing down the farm (which would be devastating to me) so make sure to enjoy it while you can!

Hot tip: Always bring your own food unless you really dig chicken fingers and pizza (PizzaPizza has a few kiosks on the island), or you want to pay a lot of money for a sandwich at the dining spots on Ward's Island. The Island has a million places to have a nice picnic! 

Hot top #2: Don't go during the festivals unless you have no choice, or are willing to spend some extra money on a water taxi - you don't get to enjoy the same charm of the place, and you'll have to wait hours to get there.


Do you have any favourite memories of the Toronto Islands?