Toronto Island – The Sandbars that Influenced the Founding of York

2022 - Looking northwest from the Centre Island ferry docks towards a Toronto Island ferry with Toronto's skyline as a backdrop
2022 – Looking northwest from the Centre Island ferry docks towards a Toronto Island ferry with Toronto’s skyline as a backdrop

Beautiful Toronto Island was formed by sand and stone carried westward from the erosion of the Scarborough Bluffs. The islands, part of a series of sandbars, were once a peninsula attached to the mainland near present-day Woodbine Ave, extending 9 km west into Lake Ontario and then turning north.

This long, curved peninsula created a natural harbour which influenced Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe in founding Fort York and the Town of York (Toronto) in 1793.

Storms and waves were continually eroding the peninsula, which required constant repair. However, in 1858, a severe storm separated the peninsula from the mainland. It opened what is known as the Eastern gap, thereby turning the peninsula into an island.

A Place of Healing

For centuries, the sands of the Island have been a significant place for Indigenous peoples. The ancestors of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation named it “Mnisiing,” meaning “on the islands.” The peninsula was considered a place of healing and rejuvenation and used for childbirth, ceremonies and burials. It was also a place for hunting and fishing. Staples like wild rice and whitefish were harvested on the Island.

2022 - The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse was built in 1808
2022 – The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse was built in 1808

Early Military Use

In the 1700s, French explorers came upon the peninsula, followed by the British. Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, realizing the Island’s strategic location, ordered storehouses, a blockhouse and a lighthouse be built on the peninsula across the harbour from Fort York. Completed in 1794, the blockhouse had two cannons and was guarded by a few soldiers. The blockhouse was dismantled after the War of 1812; however, today’s Blockhouse Bay is its namesake. The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse at the southwest corner of the then-peninsula was completed in 1808.

In the 1830s, the first homes began appearing on the peninsula. There was the lighthouse keeper’s home and two summer residences which later became hotels.

Ward’s Island, Hanlan’s Point & Centre Island

The east side of the peninsula was settled by a fisherman named David Ward and his family. His son William went on to build the grand Ward’s Hotel in 1882 (demolished in 1966).

In the mid-1800s, seasonal fishermen began camping on Ward’s Island, and by the turn of the 20th century, their families joined them during the summer months. The area became known as a “tent city.” In 1931, the city permitted the Ward’s Islanders to build permanent dwellings on their campsites, eventually becoming the year-round cottages and residences on Ward’s Island today.

1907 - JW Gorman's white diving horse at Hanlan's Point
1907 – JW Gorman’s white diving horse at Hanlan’s Point (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 191)

In 1862, the Hanlan family settled on the Island’s west side and constructed a home. John Hanlan went on to build a hotel, and the area became known as Hanlan’s Point. John’s son was Edward (Ned) Hanlan, who learned to row in Toronto Harbour. Ned became one of the world’s greatest oarsmen, and his statue is located at the Hanlan’s Point ferry dock.

In 1867, the Federal government transferred the ownership of the Island to the City of Toronto. The land was divided into lots for cottages, resort hotels and amusement areas, and as time went on, Toronto Island became increasingly popular.

By the late 1800s, there were houses, churches and businesses across the Island. At Hanlan’s Point, there was a lively amusement park and baseball stadium (both later demolished to make way for the Island Airport). Well-to-do Torontonians like George Gooderham (of Gooderham & Worts), Charles Goad (whose company produced fire insurance plans/maps for many communities, including Toronto) and EJ Lennox (the architect of many of Toronto’s landmarks) were building summer residences on the Island.

Between Ward’s Island and Hanlan’s Point is Centre Island. On and around Centre Island’s Manitou Road, also known as the “main drag,” there were grocery and hardware stores, laundries, hotels, barbershops and much more. There was a casino, movie theatre and an outdoor bowling alley for entertainment; until the early 1950s, it was a thriving little town. The year-round community numbered over 2,000, with approximately 10,000 residents in the summer.

1960s - A house being demolished on Toronto Island. By the end of the decade, 400 homes on Centre Island and Hanlan's Point had been destroyed
1960s – A house being demolished on Toronto Island. By the end of the decade, 400 homes on Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point had been destroyed (City of Toronto Archives)

The Island Becomes a Toronto Park

In 1956, the responsibility of Toronto Island was transferred from the city to the newly formed Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto to create a regional park. Metro Toronto Council expropriated land on the Island to compensate for waterfront parklands lost through the construction of the Gardiner Expressway.

As leases expired, Metro demolished the homes and businesses. By the end of the 1960s, all of the shops and 400 houses on Hanlan’s Point and Centre Island had been destroyed.

Islanders and politicians started a 30-year battle to save the remaining homes on Ward’s and Algonquin Islands. In 1993, the community’s presence was secured through provincial legislation by creating a land trust. Ownership of the houses was returned to the residents with a 99-year lease on the land.

Today, about 750 people are living in 262 homes at the east end, on Algonquin and Ward’s Island year-round.

Manitou Road is now known as Avenue of the Island. The pedestrian walkway on Centre Island is lined with trees, flowerbeds, hedges and reflecting pools, plus a picturesque bridge crosses over Long Pond.

1925 - Crowds boarding the ferry at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club dock
1925 – Crowds boarding the ferry at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club dock (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 262)

Toronto Island Ferry

Ferries have been going to the Island since the 1830s. The early ferries were “horse boats,” powered by two or more horses walking on a circular table on the boat’s deck, which set the side paddle wheels in motion. It took 30 to 40 minutes to cross.

By the mid-1800s, the ferries that travelled to the Island were steam-powered. Initially operated by private companies, in 1926, the city acquired eight ferries from the Toronto Ferry Company.

Today, the City-operated Toronto Island Ferry has a fleet of four primary vessels and one heritage vessel ranging from 50 to 100 years old. Together they transport 1.4 million passengers each year.

From downtown Toronto, the ferry dock is located at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal on Queens Quay W at the foot of Bay St. It travels to/from the ferry docks at Ward’s Island, Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point. The ferry ticket price includes the return trip. When you take the 15-minute ferry to one of the Island docks, you can return to the city from any of the three docks. Click for the Toronto Island Ferry schedule.

Private water taxis are also available for a fee for each one-way trip.

2022 - Looking south at the bridge over Long Pond on Centre Island
2022 – Looking south at the bridge over Long Pond on Centre Island

Toronto’s Beautiful Island Today

The Island is a popular destination in the warm months. It’s 4.5 km wide, about 825 acres and made up of 15 islands, including Ward’s, Algonquin, Centre and Hanlan’s Point. Their collective name is Toronto Island. The distance to walk or cycle from Ward’s Island ferry dock to Hanlan’s Point ferry dock is about 5.3 km. While most of the islands are connected by roads and bridges, some are only accessible by water.

Along with strolling the walkways, lounging on the beaches, paddling the waterways or picnicking in the parks, points of interest include:

Ward’s and Algonquin Islands are home to the Island community and associations’ clubhouses. Visitors will find Willow Square, a public space in the heart of the community.

Between the Community and Centre Island is The Boardwalk, The Rectory and Land Trust office, the Island Fire Hall and an 18-hole Disc Golf Course.

Centre Island is the most frequently visited area of the Island. Centreville Amusement Park features rides and attractions for children, including a carousel, bumper cars, mini coaster, flume, Ferris wheel, pony rides and mini golf. At Far Enough Farm, there are pigs, ducks, horses, sheep, chickens, cows, peacocks, goats and more. Other family-friendly highlights at Centre Island are the William Meany Maze, Lakeshore Splash Pad, Franklin Children’s Garden and the Sky Ride.

Other notable places on Centre Island is the historic St Andrew by-the-Lake Anglican Church on Cibola Ave and the Centre Island Pier.

Between Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point are the Island Public and Natural Science School, the Island Water Treatment Plant, Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts, Gibraltar Point Lighthouse and Gibraltar Point.

Hanlan’s Point is home to the Dunes, with clothing-mandatory and clothing-optional beaches. Other points of interest on Hanlan’s Point is Mugg’s Island (only accessible by boat), Ned Hanlan statue, Babe Ruth/Stadium plaques and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

There are also boat and bike rentals, lockers and change rooms, harbour tours, restaurants, food outlets, and much more on the Island.

1908 - A group of bathers being photographed at Hanlan's Point
1908 – A group of bathers being photographed at Hanlan’s Point (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 160A)

Did You Know?

  • Elizabeth Simcoe, an accomplished artist and wife of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, often rode along the peninsula. She referred to it as “my favourite sands.” Her 1793 watercolour of York (Toronto) Harbour is shown below.
  • The peninsula was also called Aiionwatha or Hiawatha Island, and to European settlers, it was known as the Island of Hiawatha.
  • In 1914, Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run from Maple Leaf Park once at Hanlan’s Point.
  • The Lakeside Home for Little Children, part of the Hospital for Sick Children, was once located at Gibraltar Point. The summer convalescent branch of the hospital was built with a donation given by Toronto Telegram founder J Ross Robertson.
  • There are three yacht clubs on the Island, including Queen City Yacht Club (on Algonquin Island), Royal Canadian Yacht Club (on RCYC Island) and Island Yacht Club (on Mugg’s Island).
  • The Island Public and Natural Science School serve children from the Island and Waterfront up to Grade 6. Once a year, children in Grades 5 and 6 from across Toronto spend a few days at the Island school learning about the ecosystem and wilderness.
  • The Algonquin and Ward’s Islands communities take up less than 5% of the Island, the airport uses 25%, and the remainder is parkland.
  • There are no stores on the Island, and it’s also car-free except for service and delivery vehicles. Islanders get around by bike or walking.
  • Visitors are welcome to walk through the Island’s residential communities, but please respect residents’ privacy.
  • The distance between Ward’s Island ferry dock to Centre Island Pier is about 2.2 km. The distance from Centre Island ferry dock to Centre Island Pier is approximately 850 m. The distance from Centre Island Pier to Hanlan’s Point ferry dock is about 3.1 km.
  • The book More Than an Island – A History of the Toronto Island by Sally Gibson was an important resource used for writing this article.

Toronto Island Photos

2022 - Looking northwest from the Centre Island ferry docks towards a Toronto Island ferry with Toronto's skyline as a backdrop
2022 – Looking northwest from the Centre Island ferry docks towards a Toronto Island ferry with Toronto’s skyline as a backdrop
1907 - JW Gorman's white diving horse at Hanlan's Point
1907 – JW Gorman’s white diving horse at Hanlan’s Point (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 191)
Circa 1909 - The Hurgle Gurgle slide, glass ball game and ball game for cigars at Hanlan's Point
Circa 1909 – The Hurgle Gurgle slide, glass ball game and ball game for cigars at Hanlan’s Point (Toronto Public Library PC-791)
Circa 1909 - The merry-go-round once located at Hanlan's Point
Circa 1909 – The merry-go-round once located at Hanlan’s Point (Toronto Public Library PC-3581)
1905 - A view of Hanlan's Point Amusement Park from the Dips. Notice the Hanlan's Point ferry dock, the merry-go-round, roller coaster, refreshment pavilion and the tall swing ride
1905 – A view of Hanlan’s Point Amusement Park from the Dips. Notice the Hanlan’s Point ferry dock, the merry-go-round, roller coaster, refreshment pavilion and the tall swing ride (Toronto Public Library PC-793)
1930 - The Whip ride at Hanlan's Point Amusement Park on Toronto Island
1930 – The Whip ride at Hanlan’s Point Amusement Park on Toronto Island (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 16, Series 71, Item 7722)
1908 - The second Hotel Hanlan was once located at Hanlan's Point. It was destroyed by fire in 1909
1908 – The second Hotel Hanlan was once located at Hanlan’s Point. It was destroyed by fire in 1909 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1478, Item 13)
1919 - An aerial view of Hanlan's Point ferry docks, amusement park, stadium, the Western channel and the mainland. The area was redeveloped and became home to the Island Airport
1919 – An aerial view of Hanlan’s Point ferry docks, amusement park, stadium, the Western channel and the mainland. The area was redeveloped and became home to the Island Airport (Toronto Public Library R-3418)
2022 - An aerial view of Hanlan's Point ferry docks, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, the Western Channel and Downtown Toronto
2022 – An aerial view of Hanlan’s Point ferry docks, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, the Western Channel and Downtown Toronto (Google Maps)
1923 - Play at first base during the opening ball game at Maple Leaf Park. The stadium was demolished to make way for the Island Airport
1923 – Play at first base during the opening ball game at Maple Leaf Park. The stadium was demolished to make way for the Island Airport (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1266, Item 583)
1912 - Maple Leaf Park was once located at Hanlan's Point. It was home to the professional baseball team, the Toronto Maple Leafs and later redeveloped to become the Island Airport. In 1926, the baseball team moved to their new park, Maple Leaf Stadium, which was once located at the foot of Bathurst St
1912 – Maple Leaf Park was once located at Hanlan’s Point. It was home to the professional baseball team, the Toronto Maple Leafs and later redeveloped to become the Island Airport. In 1926, the baseball team moved to their new park, Maple Leaf Stadium, which was once located at the foot of Bathurst St (Toronto Public Library PC-796)
1939 - The opening of Port George VI Airport (the Island Airport), today's Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Notice the Royal York Hotel in the background
1939 – The opening of Port George VI Airport (the Island Airport), today’s Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. Notice the Royal York Hotel in the background (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 4593)
2022 - The back of the Toronto Island Airport Terminal Building. Built in 1938/39 for what was known then as Port George VI Airport, the wooden aviation terminal with a central control tower became a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989. The building was decommissioned in 2010 when the new Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport terminal was opened
2022 – The back of the Toronto Island Airport Terminal Building. Built in 1938/39 for what was known then as Port George VI Airport, the wooden aviation terminal with a central control tower became a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989. The building was decommissioned in 2010 when the new Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport terminal was opened
2022 - A Porter flight landing at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on Toronto Island. In the background are the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre
2022 – A Porter flight landing at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on Toronto Island. In the background are the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre
2022 - Looking north towards the Ned Hanlan statue and tugboat at Hanlan’s Point ferry dock on Toronto Island. Notice the CN Tower in the distance
2022 – Looking north towards the Ned Hanlan statue and tugboat at Hanlan’s Point ferry dock on Toronto Island. Notice the CN Tower in the distance
1920 - Turner's Baths were once located at Hanlan's Point
1920 – Turner’s Baths were once located at Hanlan’s Point (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Sub Series 52, Item 904)
1932 - Lake Shore House refreshments and light lunches at Hanlan's Point
1932 – Lake Shore House refreshments and light lunches at Hanlan’s Point (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1117)
1954 - St Emmanuel Anglican Church, once located on Hanlan's Point
1954 – St Emmanuel Anglican Church, once located on Hanlan’s Point (Toronto Public Library R-3403)
1908 - A group of bathers being photographed at Hanlan's Point
1908 – A group of bathers being photographed at Hanlan’s Point (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 160A)
1935 - Homes moved from Hanlan's Point to Algonquin Island to make way for the Island Airport
1935 – Homes moved from Hanlan’s Point to Algonquin Island to make way for the Island Airport (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 6045)
2022 - Looking northwest near Hanlan's Point Beach towards a shipwrecked sailboat. The Cinesphere Theatre at Ontario Place is in the distance
2022 – Looking northwest near Hanlan’s Point Beach towards a shipwrecked sailboat. The Cinesphere Theatre at Ontario Place is in the distance
2022 - The Dunes at Hanlan's Point Beach
2022 – The Dunes at Hanlan’s Point Beach
1912 - The Lakeside Home for Little Children was once located at Gibraltar Point. It was the summer convalescent branch of the Hospital for Sick Children, built with a donation given by Toronto Telegram founder J Ross Robertson
1912 – The Lakeside Home for Little Children was once located at Gibraltar Point. It was the summer convalescent branch of the Hospital for Sick Children, built with a donation given by Toronto Telegram founder J Ross Robertson (Toronto Public Library B8-72A)
1909 - Looking west towards the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse. Notice the homes in the distance
1909 – Looking west towards the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse. Notice the homes in the distance (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1015b)
2022 - The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse was built in 1808
2022 – The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse was built in 1808
2022 - Looking southwest towards the Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts located on Lakeshore Ave between Centre Island and Hanlan's Point. Built in 1909, this structure was originally the Island public school
2022 – Looking southwest towards the Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts located on Lakeshore Ave between Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point. Built in 1909, this structure was originally the Island public school
1929 - The Island Filtration Plant, known today as the Island Water Treatment Plant, is located between Centre Island and Hanlan's Point
1929 – The Island Filtration Plant, known today as the Island Water Treatment Plant, is located between Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 72, Item 1048)
2022 - The Island Water Treatment Plant is located between Centre Island and Hanlan's Point
2022 – The Island Water Treatment Plant is located between Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point
Circa 1890 - Homes on Centre Island. The photo says "possibly Lakeshore Ave"
Circa 1890 – Homes on Centre Island. The photo says “possibly Lakeshore Ave” (Toronto Public Library 2015-2-1-56)
1908 - High water around the homes once on Cherokee Ave, on Centre Island
1908 – High water around the homes once on Cherokee Ave, on Centre Island (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 41, Item 825)
2022 - The Island Public and Natural Sciences School is located at 30 Centre Island Pk
2022 – The Island Public and Natural Sciences School is located at 30 Centre Island Pk
1909 - James family picnic on Centre Island
1909 – James family picnic on Centre Island (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 3551)
2022 - Bouys at the Centre Island Pier
2022 – Bouys at the Centre Island Pier
1907 - Looking south on Manitou Rd from the bridge over Long Pond, on Centre Island
1907 – Looking south on Manitou Rd from the bridge over Long Pond, on Centre Island (Toronto Public Library PC-3596)
2022 - Looking south on Avenue of the Island from the bridge over Long Pond. This area on Centre Island was once home to many shops, hotels, restaurants and businesses. It was known as Manitou Rd or the "main drag"
2022 – Looking south on Avenue of the Island from the bridge over Long Pond. This area on Centre Island was once home to many shops, hotels, restaurants and businesses. It was known as Manitou Rd or the “main drag”
2022 - Looking south at the bridge over Long Pond on Centre Island
2022 – Looking south at the bridge over Long Pond on Centre Island
1925 - St Rita's Church, once located on Centre Island
1925 – St Rita’s Church, once located on Centre Island (Toronto Public Library PC-3644)
1925 - Fireboat docked on the south side of Long Pond, next to the bridge on Manitou Rd. The Fire Hall was located directly behind
1925 – Fireboat docked on the south side of Long Pond, next to the bridge on Manitou Rd. The Fire Hall was located directly behind (Toronto Public Library PC-3654)
2022 - Looking southwest from Duck Island towards the bridge over Long Pond on Centre Island
2022 – Looking southwest from Duck Island towards the bridge over Long Pond on Centre Island
Circa 1940 - Peterson Hotel, previously the Hotel Pierson, once located on Centre Island
Circa 1940 – Peterson Hotel, previously the Hotel Pierson, once located on Centre Island (Toronto Public Library PC-3645)
1954 - The Manitou Hotel was once located on Manitou Rd, today's Avenue of the Island, on Centre Island
1954 – The Manitou Hotel was once located on Manitou Rd, today’s Avenue of the Island, on Centre Island (Toronto Public Library R-3468)
1954 - The Police Station once located on Manitou Rd, on Centre Island
1954 – The Police Station once located on Manitou Rd, on Centre Island (Toronto Public Library R-427)
1950s – An aerial view of Manitou Rd on Centre Island, looking southwest. The Island Theatre was once located at 4 Iroquois Ave. Today Manitou Rd is known as Avenue of the Island
1950s – An aerial view of Manitou Rd on Centre Island, looking southwest. The Island Theatre was once located at 4 Iroquois Ave. Today Manitou Rd is known as Avenue of the Island (City of Toronto Archives, Series 316, File 5)
Early 1950s - The Island Theatre was once located at 4 Iroquois Ave, just west of Manitou Rd on Centre Island. Today, this area is home to parkland and the Avenue of the Island
Early 1950s – The Island Theatre was once located at 4 Iroquois Ave, just west of Manitou Rd on Centre Island. Today, this area is home to parkland and the Avenue of the Island (City of Toronto Archives, Ken Webster Fonds, Fonds 251, Series 1278, File 90)
1960 - Manitou Rd was the "main drag" on Centre Island. All of the buildings were demolished and replaced with parkland and the Avenue of the Island
Circa 1960 – Manitou Rd was the “main drag” on Centre Island. All of the buildings were demolished and replaced with parkland and the Avenue of the Island (City of Toronto Archives)
1960s - A house being demolished on Toronto Island. By the end of the decade, 400 homes on Centre Island and Hanlan's Point had been destroyed
1960s – A house being demolished on Toronto Island. By the end of the decade, 400 homes on Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point had been destroyed (City of Toronto Archives)
2022 - Centre Island Police Station
2022 – Centre Island Police Station
1915 - The bridge connecting Centre Island to Olympic Island
1915 – The bridge connecting Centre Island to Olympic Island (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1920)
2022 - Beautiful footbridge connecting Centre Island to Olympic Park
2022 – Beautiful footbridge connecting Centre Island to Olympic Park
1909 - Ladies egg and spoon race at Centre Island
1909 – Ladies egg and spoon race at Centre Island (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 199)
1930 - The Boardwalk was once known as Lakeshore Ave and at one time stretched from Ward's Island to Hanlan's Point
1930 – The Boardwalk was once known as Lakeshore Ave and at one time stretched from Ward’s Island to Hanlan’s Point (Toronto Public Library PC-5022)
2022 - Looking east on The Boardwalk on the south side of Toronto Island
2022 – Looking east on The Boardwalk on the south side of Toronto Island
2022 - The remains of stone garden walls and foundations from the Island homes that once fronted Lake Ontario can be found under the brush and trees along The Boardwalk
2022 – The remains of stone garden walls and foundations from the Island homes that once fronted Lake Ontario can be found under the brush and trees along The Boardwalk
Circa 1930 - St Andrew by-the-Lake Anglican Church was once located on the corner of Cherokee Ave and Lakeshore Ave on Centre Island. In 1959, it was moved to its present-day location on Cibola Ave
Circa 1930 – St Andrew by-the-Lake Anglican Church was once located on the corner of Cherokee Ave and Lakeshore Ave on Centre Island. In 1959, it was moved to its present-day location on Cibola Ave
2022 - St Andrew by-the-Lake Anglican Church is located at Cibola Ave on the Toronto Islands
2022 – St Andrew by-the-Lake Anglican Church is located at Cibola Ave on the Toronto Islands
1897 - Charles E Goad's summer house, the "Floreat," on Toronto Island. in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Mr Goad's company created fire insurance plans/maps for over 1,300 Canadian communities, including Toronto
1897 – Charles E Goad’s summer house, the “Floreat,” on Toronto Island. in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Mr Goad’s company created fire insurance plans/maps for over 1,300 Canadian communities, including Toronto (Archives of Ontario I0013921)
1913 - Looking south on Oriole Ave, a street once located on Centre Island. The homes were demolished to create parklands. Now a "ghost street," today, you can see the two rows of willow and poplar trees that once lined the street, just east of St Andrew by-the-Lake Church
1913 – Looking south on Oriole Ave, a street once located on Centre Island. The homes were demolished to create parklands. Now a “ghost street,” today, you can see the two rows of willow and poplar trees that once lined the street, just east of St Andrew by-the-Lake Church (Toronto Public Library PC-3437)
Circa 1900 - Lawn bowling at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club's (RCYC) first clubhouse on the Island. It was destroyed by fire in 1904
Circa 1900 – Lawn bowling at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club’s (RCYC) first clubhouse on the Island. It was destroyed by fire in 1904 (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1587, Series 409, Item 6)
1925 - Crowds boarding the ferry at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club dock
1925 – Crowds boarding the ferry at the Royal Canadian Yacht Club dock (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 262)
2022 - Looking southeast towards the Royal Canadian Yacht Club from the Toronto Island ferry
2022 – Looking southeast towards the Royal Canadian Yacht Club from the Toronto Island ferry
2022 - Looking southeast towards the Toronto Fire Station 335 and Toronto Paramedic Services Station 59 at 235 Cibola Ave on Toronto Island
2022 – Looking southeast towards the Toronto Fire Station 335 and Toronto Paramedic Services Station 59 at 235 Cibola Ave on Toronto Island
1954 - The Fire Hall on Manitou Rd, on Centre Island. The structure was later floated to its current location on Ward's Island
1954 – The Fire Hall on Manitou Rd, on Centre Island. The structure was later floated to its current location on Ward’s Island (Toronto Public Library R-350)
2022 - Originally the Fire Hall, it was located on Manitou Rd (today's Avenue of the Island) before being floated to this location on Ward's Island. When the new Fire Hall was completed (just 400 m to the west) in 1996, the structure became home to the Toronto Island Canoe Club
2022 – Originally the Fire Hall, it was located on Manitou Rd (today’s Avenue of the Island) before being floated to this location on Ward’s Island. When the new Fire Hall was completed (just 400 m to the west) in 1996, the structure became home to the Toronto Island Canoe Club
1938 - Algonquin Bridge to Sunfish Island, today's Algonquin Island
1938 – Algonquin Bridge to Sunfish Island, today’s Algonquin Island (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1931)
2022 - Looking south towards Algonquin Bridge from Algonquin Island
2022 – Looking south towards Algonquin Bridge from Algonquin Island
2022 - Looking northeast from Cibola Ave toward kayaks, a waterway and Algonquin Bridge
2022 – Looking northeast from Cibola Ave toward kayaks, a waterway and Algonquin Bridge
2022 - Originally home to St Andrew by-the-Lake Church rectory, today it's The Riviera restaurant and the Land Trust office
2022 – Originally home to St Andrew by-the-Lake Church rectory, today it’s The Riviera restaurant and the Land Trust office
Circa 1940 - Looking southwest towards the Queen City Yacht Club on Sunfish (later Algonquin) Island
Circa 1940 – Looking southwest towards the Queen City Yacht Club on Sunfish (later Algonquin) Island (Toronto Public Library PC-5021)
2022 - Looking southwest towards Queen City Yacht Club on Algonquin Island
2022 – Looking southwest towards Queen City Yacht Club on Algonquin Island
1908 - A Ward's Island backyard
1908 – A Ward’s Island backyard (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 6031)
1911 - Tent city on Ward's Island. In 1931, the city permitted the Ward's Islanders to build permanent dwellings on their campsites. Those homes eventually became the year-round residences on Ward's Island today
1911 – Tent city on Ward’s Island. In 1931, the city permitted the Ward’s Islanders to build permanent dwellings on their campsites. Those homes eventually became the year-round residences on Ward’s Island today (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 166)
1933 - A Robert Simpson Company Ltd ad for Ward's Island cottage kits in an August 12, 1933, Vol 17, No 7 edition of Ward's Island Weekly newspaper. Prices started at $311 for a 16' x 16' standard gable cottage with a 7' veranda
1933 – A Robert Simpson Company Ltd ad for Ward’s Island cottage kits in an August 12, 1933, Vol 17, No 7 edition of Ward’s Island Weekly newspaper. Prices started at $311 for a 16′ x 16′ standard gable cottage with a 7′ veranda (Toronto Public Library 37131105047559D-V17-N7)
1954 - Ward's Hotel, once located on Ward's Island
1954 – Ward’s Hotel, once located on Ward’s Island (Toronto Public Library S 1-2039A)
1954 - Wimans Baths, once located on Ward's Island
1954 – Wimans Baths, once located on Ward’s Island (Toronto Public Library R-351)
2022 - The Ward's Island Association Club House is located at 20 Withrow St
2022 – The Ward’s Island Association Club House is located at 20 Withrow St
Circa 1845 - The second "horse boat." The early ferries were powered by two or more horses walking on a circular table on the boat's deck, which set the side paddle wheels in motion
Circa 1845 – The second “horse boat.” The early ferries were powered by two or more horses walking on a circular table on the boat’s deck, which set the side paddle wheels in motion (1893 sketch – Toronto Public Library D3-21B)
1890s - The Mayflower, once a famous Toronto Island ferry
1890s – The Mayflower, once a famous Toronto Island ferry (Toronto Public Library E1-25Q)
Circa 1900 - Toronto Ferry Company Limited island ferry pass
Circa 1900 – Toronto Ferry Company Limited island ferry pass (Toronto Public Library CA-1900-ISLAND-FERRY-VS)
Between 1899 and 1907 - The Toronto Ferry Company Island Ferry wharf was once located on the south side of Lake St (near present-day Queens Quay W), east of Bay St. The structure was destroyed by fire in 1907
Between 1899 and 1907 – The Toronto Ferry Company Island Ferry wharf was once located on the south side of Lake St (near present-day Queens Quay W), east of Bay St. The structure was destroyed by fire in 1907 (City of Toronto Archives, Series 372, Sub Series 100, Item 752)
1908 - Toronto Island ferry passengers
1908 – Toronto Island ferry passengers (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 234)
2022 - The upper deck of the Toronto Island ferry
2022 – The upper deck of the Toronto Island ferry
2022 - Toronto Island Ferry departing from Centre Island, heading to Jack Layton Ferry Terminal on Queens Quay W, near the foot of Bay St
2022 – Toronto Island Ferry departing from Centre Island, heading to Jack Layton Ferry Terminal on Queens Quay W, near the foot of Bay St
1793 - Looking south from York (Toronto) towards Gibraltar Point, showing firing of salute. A watercolour by Elizabeth Simcoe
1793 – Looking south from York (Toronto) towards Gibraltar Point, showing firing of salute. A watercolour by Elizabeth Simcoe (Toronto Public Library R-544)
1840s - Louis Privat's House was one of the Island's first hotels. It featured rides, a bowling alley, and a small zoo, along with waterfront accommodation. Originally the summer residence of Lord Sydenham, he built the home in 1839 to escape the cholera epidemics plaguing Toronto at the time
1840s – Louis Privat’s House was one of the Island’s first hotels. It featured rides, a bowling alley, and a small zoo, along with waterfront accommodation. Originally the summer residence of Lord Sydenham, he built the home in 1839 to escape the cholera epidemics plaguing Toronto at the time (Landmarks of Toronto Volume 2 by J Ross Robertson – 1893)
1903 - A Toronto Island postcard says - My dear Yankee Bess, This is an improvement on Coney Island. Lotta "The Cannuck"
1903 – A Toronto Island postcard says – My dear Yankee Bess, This is an improvement on Coney Island. Lotta “The Cannuck” (Toronto Public Library PC-3590)
1908 - Group in a swan boat near Toronto Island
1908 – Group in a swan boat near Toronto Island (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1244, Item 156A)
1910s - Crowds at railway level crossing on Bay St on their way to Toronto Island
1910s – Crowds at railway level crossing on Bay St on their way to Toronto Island (City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 143)
2022 - View of the Toronto skyline from the Island
2022 – View of the Toronto skyline from the Island
1990s - An aerial view of Toronto Island and Toronto
1990s – An aerial view of Toronto Island and Toronto (City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 41, Item 1)
1899 - Goads Map showing Toronto Island. Charles Goad, whose company created fire insurance plans/maps, had his summer home on the Island
1899 – Goads Map showing Toronto Island. Charles Goad, whose company created fire insurance plans/maps, had his summer home on the Island (Toronto Public Library)
1792 - The first formal survey of York Harbour by Joseph Bouchette at the request of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe. Notice the Island was once a peninsula connected to the mainland
1792 – The first formal survey of York Harbour by Joseph Bouchette at the request of Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe. Notice the Island was once a peninsula connected to the mainland (first published in 1815 – City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 377, Item 18)
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