Winter in Toronto Islands
I don’t trust any country that looks around a continent and says, “Hey, I’ll take the frozen part.” – Jon Stewart
It may be -30 degrees Celsius with the windchill and half a meter snow. Welcome to the Canadian winter!
One day in February, a winter storm hit Toronto. The perfect timing to go out and confront the nature with a camera.
Fresh snow covered the city, and amazingly, for a metropolis such as Toronto, there is a oasis of peacefulness: the Toronto Islands. A 15 minutes ferry ride from Downtown Toronto and you are in the wilderness, well just during a winter storm!
There are three main destinations in the island:
- Central Island – the most popular island in the summer, the main attractions being the Centreville Amusement Park, Franklin Children’s Garden, the Far Enough Farm, the beaches, the pier and the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
- Hanlan’s Beach – a nudist beach on the West side, popular with the Toronto gay community
- Ward’s Island – the home of the largest urban car-free community in North America
Taking the ferry to the islands in the winter is easy: the long line-ups of people from summer are gone. The Jack Layton Ferry Terminal is located between Bay Street and Yonge Street on Queens Quay.
My starting point was the Ward’s Island – take a tour of the village and walk through the blizzard on the shore of the Lake Ontario all the way to the Hanlan’s Point. The old, 1960 made”Ongiara” was the only ferry of the day – still strong but wearing the patina of time.
The Ward’s Island
The houses on the island are small and the inhabitants are mostly retired people. Some of them live on boats anchored on the island’s channels.
It seems the island’s inhabitants are still sleepy or just not ready yet to go out to face the storm. No foot prints, just immaculate snow and quietness.
Toronto Islands Boardwalk
The boardwalk connects Ward’s with Central Island following the Ontario Lake’s shoreline and it is a place of promenade during the warmer months.
At minus 25 degrees Celsius with the wind chill minus 30 degrees Celsius, everything was frozen and soon I was frozen too.
Using the Sigma DP 1 camera – one of a kind camera that gives exceptional results but at the speed of a snail – my fingers got frozen and I barely could hold the camera, and no way to be able to press the tiny shutter button wearing gloves. As a last resort I used the tip of my nose to press the shutter button in order to freeze the moment in an already frozen world.
Toronto Islands Info