Toronto Island

Explore Toronto Island

Now is the time for residents to experience all that tourists have been raving about for years. Discover shops, stops, places and spaces on city main streets. Stay curious, Toronto.

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Explore FREE Public Art Across the City. Toronto's Year of Public Art 2021-2022 is a year-long celebration of Toronto's exceptional public art collection and the creative community behind it.

We hope that you enjoyed exploring this Toronto neighbourhood and found many other points of interest along the way. While StrollTO highlights some of the 'hidden gems' in the neighbourhood, there may be others that could be included in a future edition. Would you like to share a point of interest that you discovered in the neighbourhood? Email us at [email protected].

Neighbourhood Stroll

The Toronto Islands have long been regarded as a special and sacred place among Mississauga and other First Nations. Named 'Minesing' in Anishinaabemowin, meaning 'island' or 'on the island', the Mississaugas recognized the special character of the islands as a place of healing, medicine, and relaxation. Though there is no evidence that any large villages were established on the islands, they often camped and held ceremonies and councils here.

The Toronto Islands are continually shifting and changing, sculpted by storms and the water currents of Lake Ontario which move sand and other material from the eroding Scarborough Bluffs westward and deposited to create the sandbars that form the islands. One account, originating from Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) oral tradition, tells of how the islands were formed all at once from a violent storm or hurricane that hit the area centuries ago. Kanien'kehá:ka knowledge keeper William Smith shared in 1954 that a great storm toppled trees and swallowed land, culminating in a great upheaval that formed the islands and left a significant mass of felled trees and debris in the bay between the islands and the lakeshore (Chandler, Al. 'Island Made in a Hurricane.' Globe and Mail, December 19th 1954). At the time Europeans first began to visit the area the Toronto Islands were actually a peninsula, connected to the mainland by a thin sand bar. Since then, storms periodically washed away parts of the sand bar connecting the islands to the mainland. British settlers would continually repair these gaps until 1858, when a large storm again severed the connection to the islands, and it was not repaired. Since then, the peninsula has remained an island.

Waterways, islands, peninsulas, and lakeshores have been important places for fishing, camping, and medicine gathering for the Mississaugas. When British settlers entered into treaty negotiations with the Mississaugas for the lands along the north shore of Lake Ontario, continued access to the waterways for land-based ways of life was of paramount importance for the Mississaugas. During the negotiations for the Gunshot Treaty in 1788 oral evidence exists that the Mississaugas negotiated for protected access to all the creeks, rivers, lakeshores, peninsulas, and islands. The Mississaugas also maintain that they did not cede or surrender their rights to the Toronto Islands during the problematic Toronto Purchases of 1787 and 1805 and continued to visit and camp on the islands as they always had in the aftermath of these treaty negotiations. Although the Mississaugas were eventually forced to surrender their claim to the Toronto Islands in a more recent treaty settlement in 2010, more recently, settler residents of the Toronto Islands have been building relationships with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. The islands remain an important place for healing, relaxation, land-based ways of life, and ceremony for many Indigenous people in the Toronto area.

Introduction written by: Dr. Jon Johnson, First Story

Main Streets: Lakeshore Avenue, Cibola Avenue, Avenue of the Islands (Please note that only emergency and commercial service vehicles (e.g., utility, delivery, construction, etc.) that are properly identified are issued a vehicle permit and allowed passage to the Toronto Islands.)

Accessibility information: Many of the points of interest on this stroll are viewable from paved paths. The Toronto Island Disc Golf Course, Centreville & Far Enough Farm, William Meany Maze, Franklin Children's Garden, Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, and Hanlan's Point Beach all involve using unpaved areas to fully access. The only way to access Toronto Island is by boat. (It is not possible to get to Toronto Island Park via the tunnel to Billy Bishop Airport). All City of Toronto-operated ferries are wheelchair accessible on all main decks. Please note that if travelling to Toronto Island in the winter that ferry service is only available to Ward's Island. More information on ferry schedules can be found here: https://www.toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/parks-gardens-beaches/toronto-island-park/all-ferry-schedules/

The StrollTO itineraries may follow routes that do not receive winter maintenance. Please review winter safety tips and for more information contact 311.

Soundtracks of the City

From global superstars to local favourites and ones to watch, the Soundtracks of the City playlists all feature artists who have called Toronto home. Whether it’s a lyric about the neighborhood, an artist representing a cultural community, or a tie-in to the StrollTO itinerary itself, all the music reflects connections to an individual ward or the City as a whole.

Music was chosen based on an artist’s Spotify presence and each song’s broad appeal, as well as its associations with the cultures, languages and ethnicities that reflect Toronto’s neighborhoods and diverse music scene. Soundtracks of the City combines 425 songs that feature more than 500 different local artists or acts, showcasing songs in 23 different languages.