A Bicycle Tour to the Toronto Islands

After about a 30 minute wait we hopped onto a small ferry boat called the Ongiara, a car ferry originally built in 1963. This small ferry can house a few vehicles and is mostly frequented by bicyclists who want to explore the island. The view from the rear of the ferry boat as it recedes from the terminal is simply phenomenal. Toronto’s impressive skyline featuring the CN Tower, the Rogers Centre and dozens of commercial and residential high-rise buildings came into view. Even though I have been living in this city for a long time, a ride on the ferry and the look back at Toronto’s skyline are always a special experience.

The clouds are coming in

My friend and I got off the boat at Wards Island, actually an extension of Centre Island. This area features a cluster of houses and small cottages that have several hundred permanent residents throughout the year. The land is owned by the city while the houses are covered by 99-year leases with the City of Toronto. Many of the cottages are very small, and not all of them are well-maintained while others are in great condition and feature impressive gardens.

Residence on Ward’s Island

We cycled to the south side of Ward’s Island which features a wooden boardwalk and a great view of the Leslie Street Spit. From there we turned right and made our way to Alqonquin Island, another island that features a community of houses. Altogether the population of the Toronto Islands comprises about 700 people. We stopped at a bench on the northern shore of Algonquin Island and sat down to enjoy the magnificent view of the downtown Toronto skyline. The bridge over the inner channel provides a perfect view of the tranquil waterway that is enjoyed by paddlers and sailing boat enthusiasts alike.

Residence on Ward’s Island

I wish we could have extended our stay on the Toronto Islands, but dark clouds were looming overhead and it sure looked like we were going to have a serious thunderstorm. We made our way back to the Wards Island ferry dock and caught our trusted ferry, but had to make a detour first to Hanlan’s Point to pick up additional passengers. Altogether our ferry ride stretched to about 50 minutes or so, and by the time we arrived at the Bay Street Ferry Terminal, big raindrops were starting to hit the ground and lightning bolts were flashing in the sky.

What a great place to admire Toronto’s skyline

It was definitely time to get home and quick. My friend and I started cycling like crazy, but the heavens opened up within a few minutes, and it started pouring fiercely. We were both soaked and I spent about 50 minutes cycling in the heavy rain along the Lakeshore and Beaches bicycle trails to get home.

Sailboat harbour on the Islands

But despite the rain, there was something pleasant about the experience, the rainwater was fairly warm and all the sounds of the city were nicely muffled by the rain. I was pondering how a long ride in the rain could be so enjoyable. My only worry was not to get hit by lightning and about an hour later I had safely made it home, ready for a hot shower to get all the street grit off my legs.

The skies were about to open

As the hot water helped me get rid of the city’s grime I thought what a great way to explore the city you live in – a bicycle ride to the Toronto Islands…

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