Toronto Islands

From Academic Kids

Missing image
The islands with the Toronto skyline in the backround

The Toronto Islands provide a shallow natural harbour for the City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. A busy inland transhipment port trade was facilitated by the locks on the Saint Lawrence Seaway at Montreal. This advantage went into decline with extensive railway links and an export development plan over several changes in the Parliament of Canada.

The islands were oringinally a peninsula or sandy bar extending from the mainland. A fierce storm in 1858 washed away a sizeable portion of the connecting landmass and created the Eastern Gap. The largest, outermost island, commonly called Centre Island, is crescent-shaped and forms the shoreline of both the Eastern and Western Channels. Algonquin and Olympia are two of the other major islands. What is commonly called Ward's Island is actually the eastern end of Centre Island. The land on which the airport was created by land fill and part of the former amusement park operated by the Toronto Ferry Company. Hanlan's Point was once home to baseball stadium. Babe Ruth once played here and hit a home run into the water. The stadium on the site was demolished in 1937.

Geologically, the islands are composed of alluvial deposits from the erosion of the Scarborough Bluffs.

The human use of the islands has changed over the years. Industrial envelopment and landfill brought the shoreline approximately 900 feet (274 m) into the harbour from the natural shoreline of Front Street. Currently (2005), a small residential community is located on Algonquin and Ward's Islands (see [1] ( The inhabitants of this residential area lease the properties from the city in 99-year terms and there are strict rules for the buying and selling of the properties. The central area hosts a children's amusement park, Far Enough Farm, three yacht clubs, swimming beaches, including a nude beach, picnic grounds, and a boardwalk. The island also contains the Island Public and Natural Science School, rental artist studios and housing (Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts), a dragonboat regatta grandstand, and a water filtration plant. Three ferry routes connect different parts of the islands to docks at the foot of Bay Street. A clothing optional beach is found near Hanlan's Point on the western end of the Island.

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Toronto Islands as seen from CN Tower

Toronto City Centre Airport (YTZ), formerly the Toronto Island Airport and still commonly known as the Island Airport, is located at the far west of the Islands and is reached by a separate, much smaller ferry from the foot of Bathurst Street. Guinness lists it as the world's shortest scheduled ferry run. The airport serves recreational aviation, medical emergency, regional business flights, and flight schools. There is no public access between the airport and the park. In 2002, Toronto's city council approved the controversial construction of a bridge to replace the airport ferry, but this was strongly opposed by David Miller, who won the 2003 mayoral election. One of Miller's first actions as mayor was to cancel the bridge construction.

Private cars are not permitted on any of the Islands. Indeed the Islands are the largest car-free community in North America. Service vehicles and some delivery vehicles are permitted. Recreational bicyclists are accommodated on the ferries, and bicycles and quadricycles can be rented on the islands. The Marine Units of the Toronto Fire and Police Departments patrol the waters.

For a comprehensive and well-illustrated history of the Islands, read Sally Gibson's More Than an Island Toronto:Irwin, 1984.

Toronto Harbour

The makeup of the soil between the mainland the island varies:

  • Stone near the Western Gap
  • Mud near the north shore, mouth of the Don Riiver
  • Sand near the airport and western parts of the island's north shore
  • Clay near the centre of the harbour

See also

External links

Template:Toronto landmarks


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