Toronto Islands Walking Tour, Toronto

Toronto Islands Walking Tour (Self Guided), Toronto

The Toronto Islands is a chain of islands located in Lake Ontario, comprising three major islands (namely: Center Island, Algonquin or Sunfish Island, and Olympic Island) and several smaller ones, which collectively represent a great recreation destination set in a peaceful and joyful environment. Other than a great panoramic view of Toronto, the islands offer a wealth of attractions. To acquaint yourself with the most notable of them, follow this self-guided walk.
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Toronto Islands Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Toronto Islands Walking Tour
Guide Location: Canada » Toronto (See other walking tours in Toronto)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.3 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: ann
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Centreville Amusement Park
  • Far Enough Farm
  • William Meany Maze
  • Artscape Gibraltar Point
  • Gibraltar Point Lighthouse
  • Hanlan's Point Beach
Centreville Amusement Park

1) Centreville Amusement Park

If you need a break from touring museums, strolling by shopping complexes and admiring monuments, the Centerville Amusement Park is a perfect getaway. Not just an average amusement park, the Centerville offers some of the oldest rides in the book. A proud owner of a vintage carousel that dates back to 1907, antique cars and swan boats, the park manages to transport you back to the yesteryears.

Just a hop, skip and jump away from the Union Station, this is the most entertaining amusement park in Toronto, nestled on an island off the shore of the main city – a place that has something for everyone.

Built in 1967, the Centerville Amusement Park has been Toronto’s most popular family holiday spot ever since. Open from June to September, most of the city’s denizens have grown up spending some of their most memorable holidays here.

Although the park may not offer over the top, adrenaline-pumping thrills, it is still a good place to spend a perfect sunny day in Toronto. Spread over 600 acres, the Centerville boasts over 30 fun-filled rides for adults and children, along with an array of food outlets where you can eat your favorite meal.

Buy your ferry tickets online, together with ride passes & tickets to save time, once at the park (you will still have to go to the ticket booth to get your bracelet, though).
You can buy individual ticket packs or a family pass, which is a great value if you analyze the cost of the unrestricted rides the older kids can go on.
For little ones, it is better to purchase a pack of tickets, rather than a day pass, because they can only go on a few of the rides.
Bring a lunch, too, as there are great spots to have a picnic before you enter the amusement park.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 10:30 am-8 pm
Far Enough Farm

2) Far Enough Farm

Enjoyed by over 100,000 visitors each year, the Far Enough Farm in Toronto is a City-Parks-Department-managed attraction. This rural Ontario hobby farm, established in 1959, is located on Centre Island beside Centreville, and is a 30-minute walk from the Wards ferry docks. Open year around, the farm has a petting “zoo” with a variety of barnyard animals, like retired police horses, pheasants, pigs, chickens, rabbits, emus, peacocks, sheep, goats , etc.

This proves to serve as a great learning resource for children, with the outdoor classrooms enjoyed by many school kids. Here, they can learn about farm animals and agriculture. Donkey rides and pony rides are available for children in the summer months. The farm also hosts a Fall Fair where demonstrations, like goat milking, sheep shearing and wool spinning, are held. The admission to the farm is free.

At some point, the farm, along with Riverdale Farm and High Park Zoo, was threatened with closure on the proposal of the Toronto City Council. The ensued campaigns carried out to save the farm, combined with a page on Facebook called “Save Toronto Island’s Far Enough Farm”, clearly indicated that this farm is much loved and valued by visitors and the people of Ontario. Make sure to visit this place to see why.
William Meany Maze

3) William Meany Maze

If you want to get lost for a while and then wander, looking for the way out, dizzying yourself with joy which reignites something warm and fuzzy, then you might enjoy a walk through the William Meany Maze on Centre Island.

A storybook icon come to life, this maze was originally a gift to the city from its Dutch-Canadian community, and was created by Peter Vanderwerf, a landscape designer, in 1967. At some point, the maze fell into disrepair and was dismantled. It wasn't until the 2010s that it was brought back to life courtesy of the wealthy businessman, William Meany, originally from the neighboring city of Mississauga, who had a nostalgic affection for the maze that he had known and loved as a young boy, and who donated more than $200,000 towards its recreation after visiting the city in 2012.

Working with the City of Toronto, Meany donated all of the materials necessary to rebuild the maze. The construction started in May 2014 and was completed in September. The precious gift included more than 1,200 black cedars, forming the maze walls, planted approximately 50 meters northwest of the original labyrinth site.

There is something magical about the William Meany Maze that makes you feel like a kid again – and it is quite obvious why it meant so much to Meany. Restored in its original splendor, you can easily spend hours of fun here, totally disoriented, caught in dead ends, going in circles, and ultimately being fooled by optical illusions where what looks like a blank wall turns out to be the right path.

This Toronto Island Park gem is open to the public all year-round, free of charge. Make sure to discover it for yourself, and you won't regret it!
Artscape Gibraltar Point

4) Artscape Gibraltar Point

Just across from Gibraltar Point Lighthouse stands an old public school-turned-artists' getaway, known as Artscape Gibraltar Point. Here, thousands of people come to hone their artistic skills in the seclusion of residencies and studio spaces tucked away in the most serene setting.

A crucial Toronto art space, such as Artscape Gibraltar Point, came into being originally as the Island Public School. The oldest part of the building emerged in 1909, as a one-room schoolhouse. In 1998, following the construction of the new Island Public School, some 500 metres away to the east, the demolition of the old school building seemed imminent. However, inspired by the tranquility of the environment, the islanders opted to re-purpose the school as an arts centre. The idea took off when Artscape showed interest and offered their backing, thus enabling the islanders to save the building.

The place is open to the public for public-facing events, but to tour the facility, one has to make an appointment. The adjacent beach is open to the public, too. Among other attractions, Artscape Gibraltar Point boasts its own beautiful vegetable and flower garden.
Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

5) Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

The Lighthouse at Gibraltar Point is one of the oldest standing structures in Toronto. Built in 1808, the lighthouse was used as water’s edge, however, due to constant sedimentation of sand, the structure today stands relatively inland. Measuring as high as 82 feet above the ground, the massive presence of the lighthouse can be felt from quite a distance. Overpowering with a deep seated secret, that is what makes the Lighthouse at Gibraltar Point the most enthralling monument in Toronto.

The lighthouse served as a watchful servant of the shore, working tirelessly for over 150 years, till it finally retired in 1958. It was then transferred into the custody of the city’s Park Department, after which it has not operated as a lighthouse anymore. Locked ever since 1958, this historical landmark only opens occasionally for tourist visits.

With a hauntingly beautiful surrounding, solitary presence of the massive structure and the age old story associated with it, a visit to the lighthouse culminates as the perfect monument experience. The first keeper of it, J.P. Radan Muller, met a gruesome and tragic end at this lighthouse. Speculated to be a murder, the suspects were never charged and brought to justice, and till this day the incident stands as a mystery. Believed to have been buried somewhere near the lighthouse, the ghost of Muller still roams freely in the area, moaning and crying on cold misty nights. Eery...
Hanlan's Point Beach

6) Hanlan's Point Beach

If you are eager to sunbathe or otherwise spend hours relaxing on a beach, then Hanlan's Point Beach is definitely the place to go. This beach is a public property situated on Hanlan's Point in the Toronto Islands near the city, on the shore of Lake Ontario.

A kilometre-long part of the beach was officially recognized by the municipal authorities in 2002 as “clothing optional”, thus instating legal status of what had been a traditional site for nude sunbathing for decades before. In 1999, Toronto City Council approved a one year pilot project for a nude beach at Hanlan's Point following a proposal by naturist organization and Councillor Kyle Rae. In 2000, the council extended the project for another two years. Finally, in 2002, the clothing-optional beach was made permanent.

The Toronto City Council decision was met with strong opposition from conservative councilors. Previously an infrequent target of police crackdowns for nude sunbathing, the place, now endowed with the official status, has generated a distinct increase in ferry traffic and appears to be a profitable component of public- and private-sector advertising campaigns, since it draws visitors to Toronto.

Police and park officials now work in partnership with the beach-goers to maintain the friendly atmosphere. The effective beach season starts in late May and ends in late September, while actual swimming off the beach is possible only within this period.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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