Point & Shoot: Weekend ribs, rides & revelry


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.

PicMonkey Collage

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!!!!!

Window on our world

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


By Aisha Ashraf

An autistic Irish immigrant in a cross-cultural marriage, Aisha Ashraf is the archetypal outlander, writing to root herself through place and perspective. Published in The Rumpus, The Maine Review, River Teeth, HuffPost and elsewhere, her work explores the legacy of trauma, the nature of being an outsider and the narrow confines of belonging. She currently lives in Canada.


  1. I haven’t visited Toronto Island since I was a child. I still remember the visit clearly why we never took our children when they were young, I’m not sure. Our weekend was full of birthday celebrations for the eldest, who turns 25 on Tuesday.

    1. A four-wheeled cycle that two (or four people if there are two rows of seats) can sit in. Funny looking, they remind me a little of the first motor cars – they have that same thin-wheeled, spindly appearance.

  2. What a wonderful weekend and set of photographs – I can’t decide which one I like the most – it’s a toss up between the carousel horse and the guy at the BBQ counter!

  3. Some great photos!! Looks like so much fun. There was a man that did the water thing on the jets at bristol harbour festival but we missed him last year so hoping to see it this year! x

  4. I love how very thorough your posts are. That scateboard thing looks mental I would not have been able to take my eyes off it either.
    Love the texture in that bar shot.
    The portable kitchens sound like a really thoughtful (and necessary) touch.

  5. I want to go for the ribs alone! I’d love to visit Canada one day. We had planned to visit when I was in America but plans got changed and we didn’t get round to it. Fingers crossed we’ll get there one day 🙂

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