Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A winter walk on the island

On Sunday I went to Toronto Island with A Stroll In the Park, a one-woman operation that organizes walks in various parks of the city.

I had wanted to see the island in the winter so this seemed like a good way to do it, I would probably never get it together to do it on my own.

We crossed the Toronto Harbour in a small open ferry. In the wintertime only one ferry operates, to Ward's Island at the eastern end of the Island.

At one time I guess this was a separate island but now it is joined to Centre Island and Hanlan's Point, as Toronto Island.

The Harbour is mostly free of ice except around the Island, our ferry had to cut through the ice to get to the ferry dock.

The ice in its path had already been broken up into large chunks, we could hear loud banging of the ice chunks against the hull of the ferry.

It was like motoring through a very thick stew of ice chunks. In the distance we could see skaters on the ice, which was glassy smooth.

We walked through the Ward's Island neighbourhood, several blocks of delightful cottage-like homes.

No cars are allowed on the island, so all the roads are just sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists.

Many of the residents have bikes or trikes with wagons for carting stuff to and from the ferry dock.

Back in the '60s the City wanted to convert the entire island to a park, it was at the time full of homes.

Many homes were expropriated and bulldozed to make way for the park, but the residents of Ward's Island successfully fought to keep their homes.

Now they have 200-year leases and are not allowed to sell their homes to anyone except the City.

To own a home on the Island would be priceless.

I imagine that owners will them to their descendants, there's still a lot of time left on those 200-year leases.

We walked along the Boardwalk on the south side of the island, facing Lake Ontario.

It was a gorgeous sunny warm day.

I was hoping to see a lot of ice, but there really wasn't much, too warm for it.

We crossed a lagoon and ended up at the Island Farm, a little petting farm for kids.

Apparently the animals there get lonely in the winter, they all seemed very happy to see us and get petted by us.

I put my hand down in one pen for a sheep ram to sniff, after a moment of sniffing he turned his head sideways like a cat for me to scratch behind his horns.

There were horses and donkeys all lined up at the fences to be petted, and a goat ram showing off his beautiful horns.

He came to the fence and then ran back into his enclosure and jumped up on a picnic table to display himself. He did a couple of turns while I photographed him. When I moved on, he followed along on his side of the fence.

The nanny goat in the enclosure took this as an opportunity to jump up on the picnic table, but as soon as he saw her there he ran back to chase her off. No Girls Allowed!

I saw several people skating on the glass-smooth ice of the lagoon. They all carried hockey sticks. I realized that they weren't playing hockey but carrying the sticks for safety.

We went for supper at The Rectory, a very nice small restaurant on the Island. I had an Angus Beefburger and some kind of very chocolate-y cake square (good but expensive, my bill came to $26!).

We left after dark and went down the ferry dock to wait for the ferry. None of us were sure when the ferry was due, we joked about what would happen if it didn't come, how we were going to get through the night on the island. There aren't any hotels or anything there! But it did come and a fifteen minute ride through the ice had us back on "the mainland" again.

The city skyline at night across the water was beautiful!


20th Century Woman said...

What a wonderful day. That island in on my list, now, of places I hope to go someday.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Anne,

I never tire of enjoying your gift of interesting narrative!! You're a gifted photographer, too. I'd love a house like that and have a potting shed I may paint whimsically yet!

Thanks!! Hugs!!!!!!

Zabetha said...

Thank you both for your comments! It was a very pleasant day and Toronto Island is a real little gem at any time of the year.