Thursday, October 17, 2013

Visiting Toronto Island

A few weeks ago a friend and I spent the day wandering around Toronto Island taking photos and sketching (you can read more here).  Her family lived on the island when she was born. She doesn't remember living there as they moved when she was only three, but it fueled our imaginations and we spent the day picturing what it would be like to live on Toronto Island.  

You would be living in a small community of around 600 residents surrounded by large areas of parkland, beaches, and wilderness all the while living right across the harbour from a large city. 

There is only one way to get to and from the island - by boat.  The hourly ferry is the main means of transportation for the islanders to get to the city for work or shopping.

Cars are not allowed on the island so you rely on your bicycle and a cart to move goods around. 

There are no roads only pathways with houses along either side.

There are no shops on the island so planning ahead is crucial.  There is one restaurant, one church, and one school.  Life is quiet here.

Although we refer to it as Toronto Island, they are in fact a series of islands linked together by bridges. The islands were originally a peninsula that became separate from the mainland in a huge storm in 1858.  When the City of Toronto acquired the islands in 1867, an amusement park and summer cottages were built on it.  During World War Two there was a housing crisis in Toronto so some of the cottages were winterized and people began living on the islands year round.  After the war was over the city wanted to demolish all the cottages and turn the islands into parkland.  The ensuing dispute between the city and the residents was finally settled in 1994 when the province signed 99-year leases with the Toronto Island residents.

There are only about 300 houses left on the island (down from a peak of 630 homes in the 1950s).  I took pictures of approximately 295 of them.  Lets have a look.

While we saw a few modern houses,

most were wooden clapboard cottages.

They were painted a variety of colour combinations with no two the same.

There were pretty gardens

and flower boxes on windows.

There were artistic decorative touches on many of the homes.

There were interesting roof lines,

and windows,

and porches.

The houses ranged from tiny cottages

to somewhat larger homes although none were huge.

 It is amazing to think that this scene

is across the pathway from this scene.

Would island life agree with you?


  1. I always thought island life would be so serene, but I dont know about the ferry and the lack of shopping. Id imagine a lot of people there garden and socialize, that would be nice.

  2. I've been to Toronto many times and love it but wasn't aware of this - I'll keep it in mind for my next trip if I go in the summer :-)

  3. I think I could live there. Best of both worlds with the City of Toronto just across the water. Although it must be so frustrating if you get home and realise you have forgotten something!

  4. Wow! I never even knew that this existed! What a beautiful island and what an amazing treat it would be to have the best of both worlds...quiet island life with a large city right next door. I would certainly love to rent a home there and live there for about 6 months! Such pretty homes too! Angie xo

  5. I don't know....I might get island fever, LOL! It is quaint, but what if you ordered a dishwasher and it needed to be delivered? And what if you need a quart of milk or a pound of sugar???? Hmmmmm.....

    I don't think I could live there, but it might be fun for a getaway!

    Neat post, Grace!