Hello from Lake Ontario’s Waterfront Trail – Exploring Pickering and Ajax

In our neck of the woods the summer has been absolutely gorgeous, a little on the hot and humid side occasionally, but I am unable to recall a summer that has been so warm and sunny as this summer of 2005.

The weekend before last I just felt like exploring the local area a little bit and since I was unable to pry my husband away from watching some of the season’s first football games, I struck out on my own and laid out an itinery for a little local discovery. I’ve said it before – this website is about exploration and discovery, locally and abroad. The places right underneath our noses often have so many things to discover, we don’t always need to get a plane ride away to uncover something new.

Since we spent so much time along Toronto’s waterfront during my brother’s visit, and since I am big suck for water in all shapes and forms, I thought let’s stretch the envelope a little further east and see what Lake Ontario has to offer outside of Toronto’s eastern city limits. More specifically, let’s check out the shoreline and Lake Ontario’s Waterfront Trail.

Images from the Pickering Waterfront

The Waterfront Trail extends for a total of 740 km and stretches all the way from Niagara-on-the-Lake in the southwest to Brockville in the east. Of course, 740 km in a day would be a bit much, so I focussed my explorations on the communities just east of Toronto: Pickering, Ajax and Whitby.

I started just on the west side of Toronto’s city limits at the estuary of the Rouge River, which forms part of a protected nature preserve. The river flows out in a lagoon setting and joins the lake just outside a long extended finger of sand, right beside a beautiful sandy beach. A video production company was just shooting a soca music video and the footbridge over the Rouge River was actually blocked off by the film crew. That didn’t deter a bunch of fishermen underneath the railway bridge from casting their lures in hopes of catching the big one.

Marsh at Pickering’s Frenchman’s Bay


My next stop was Pickering, the first community east of Toronto. I went down to the Liverpool Beachfront Park, which houses a brand new very attractive Cape Code style housing development, a marina and a restaurant surrounded by a marsh just inland from the shoreline. At the beachfront of Frenchman’s Bay there are various recreation facilities and the boardwalk takes you right up to the fences of the Pickering Nuclear Power Station.


Back in the car I went and I scoped out the next city further east: Ajax, which has a beautiful waterfront. I parked my car at Rotary Park which has a nice pavillion with a food concession, put on my inline skates and rolled eastwards past the Ajax Waterfront Park and Harwood Gardens to the east end of the Waterfront Park. Virtually all of downtown Ajax’ waterfront is parkland and near Lion’s Point and Harwood Gardens the shoreline is elevated, with many benches to sit down and rest and gaze out onto the infinite horizons of Lake Ontario.

Huge flowers in Harwood Gardens in Ajax


I made a brief stop in Whitby, but by that time my stomach was growling and the nagging feeling in my digestive system made me decide to explore this area in more detail another time. I figured I gotta leave some of the nice stuff for next time.


After almost 20 years in Canada I had never explored these parts of Lake Ontario’s shoreline and I was amazed at how many beautiful spots I found. As fall approaches, I am planning to extend my discoveries and head out to discover some of Ontario’s brilliant fall colours and get to know my local neck of the woods a little better.

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