Visitors to Toronto are often surprised to discover the Toronto Islands, a pint-sized archipelago just offshore of the bustling lakeside metropolis. They began as a series of continually moving sandbars which, by the early 1800’s, had formed a natural harbour between the lake and the mainland. They were well known by native people, who considered them a place of leisure and relaxation and by the late 1800’s many of Toronto’s wealthiest families built beautiful Victorian summer homes there. These days they’re home to a lighthouse, a farm, Billy Bishop Airport, Centreville amusement park, beautiful gardens and a baseball stadium where Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run, as well as a handful of private cottage residences.
A trip to the islands can easily fill an entire day and the kids LOVE it. Starting with a ride into Toronto’s Union Station on the GO train (part of the inter-regional public transit system in southern Ontario) we walk to nearby Queens Quay to board the ferry to Centre Island and the Centreville amusement park.
There’s no road link to the islands and they rely on ferries and water taxi’s for their transport needs, thus they boast the largest urban car-free community in North America (with only a few service vehicles permitted,) so for those of us with small children who like nothing better than to run amok that’s one less thing to be vigilant for. Bicycles are allowed on the ferries, and can also be rented, along with quadracycles and canoes, on the islands as well.
Enough of the guide-book stuff, here’s a peek at our weekend, first down at our local beach…
…then all the excitement of a trip to Centreville!
There was a guy in Toronto harbour ducking and diving in and out of the water on what looked like a water-powered, jet-pack skateboard-type-thing.
We couldn’t take our eyes of him – especially when he went head-first into the water!
Then it was all aboard the ferry for Centre Island. There are some beautiful views of the city from the water:
As you can see from the pictures, after the thrill of the rides we headed to the island beach for some R&R.
Closer to home, on the sports field down the road, this weekend was RIBFEST!!!!!
Right on our doorstep, it’s three days of the delicious aroma of barbecue wafting around the neighbourhood as ribbers from far and wide (many from south of the border) gather to compete against each other to get the most votes for their food and sauces. Among the various attractions there’s live music throughout the day and into the night, a fairground (known as a midway here) and a rib-eating contest. I’ve covered Ribfest in previous years, and my pictures were used by the organisers to help promote this year’s event – you can see them here.
Despite free-flowing beer tents, food and sunshine for three days straight, there’s no rowdiness and families stay late into the evening. Somehow Canada manages to retain that small-town community charm while at the same time providing modern conveniences, the portable washing stations, complete with sinks and taps, set up near the food tables always garner my admiration. If you’ve ever eaten ribs you’ll know how messy things can get, for those that haven’t, check out the pictures of the rib-eating contest and you’ll see what I mean.
Anyway, that was a taste of our weekend, how was yours?
Linking up with snowingindoors.com for Point&Shoot