My Toronto Island Scrapbook

Welcome to just a few of the hundreds of photos I’ve taken round and about the island.
I’ve tried to capture the essence of this unique cluster of island communities and record the diverse nature of this Toronto Park.
In choosing just a few pictures I’m not sure I’ve done justice to the artsy, folksy and whimsical ward and Algonquin island communities. You have to visit to truly imbibe the sense of peace and serenity, the summer cicadas, the autumn colours and the winter shadows on the boardwalk and beaches.
My city escape

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Toronto’s most unusual dining venue – Part 2 – For Location

So in the last blog I chose to feature dining experiences set apart by their access to spectacular views of Toronto

This article features restaurants categorized according to their out-of -the-ordinary locations:

• The Rectory Cafe on Toronto Island
A slice of cottage country on the City’s doorstep, The secluded oasis that is Rectory Cafe is located on Ward island within a shady sun- dappled copse scooched up to The Island’s tree lined board walk.
With interesting menu options and cocktails this is a delightful place to dine at any time of day but an especially beguiling venue in the evening when most of the day trippers have returned home as it is open till 10pm in the summer.
http://www.therectorycafe.com

Arriba Restaurant – Renaissance Hotel
From its magnificent vantage point high up in the Rogers Skydome a meal at Arriba combines dynamic dining with an opportunity to catch a Blue Jays game. A window-on-the-game meal is served with a side of baseball snippets by enthusiastic serving staff.
http://www.arribarestauranttoronto.com/

Auberge du Pommier
One wouldn’t just come across this Oliver and Bonacini owned gem, as this tiny French restaurant – carefully restored around two 1860’s woodcutters cottages – is tucked away off the beaten track, and shrouded amongst the densely packed skyscrapers of one of North York’s busy financial and business districts
Serving the most delectable and much lauded French food in a atmospheric wood- smoke drenched space complete with a huge wood burning fireplace.
“Sante”
http://www.oliverbonacini.com

• Gallery Grill at Hart House
Shades of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts: dine in this intimate gallery overlooking the gothic Great Hall with its vaulted ceiling and oak panelling or choose a table overlooking the sculpture garden. Sumptuous well served food and look out for the innovative cocktails -which also appear evening-side from 7pm Wednesday to Fridays.
www. harthouse.ca/gallery-grill/

The Old Mill Hotel is a quaint and historic setting for afternoon tea – There has been a tea garden here since 1914. A restored black and white timber framed hotel in a leafy enclave of West Toronto; its motto is “In the valley of the Humber, a bit of England, far from England”. And a taste of old England is exactly what you’ll get:
Afternoon Tea is served
Monday – Friday from 3:00 -5pm, 2-4pm on Saturdays and 3:30-5pm on Sundays.
You’ll need to book ahead
http://www.oldmilltoronto.com

Osgoode Hall Dining Room
The restaurant in this grand circa 1840 building, and home of the Law Society of Upper Canada is the haunt of the legal eagles and those in the know. Have lunch amidst the wood panelled pomp of the Great Hall with its book lined shelves, monster chandeliers, stained glass and mezzanine gallery.
A fabulous crisp fresh menu is served on weekday lunchtimes from September until June. You can opt for either prix fix at around $25 for 2 courses or you can go “off -piste” with a la carte look out for the range of E Lustau sherries
http://www.osgoodehall.com

Over and Out

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Spend your whole summer on Toronto’s Waterfront!

Are you ready to think outside the box this summer?
Torontonians – “Everything summer” is literally on offer on a lake shore near you

Move
Cycle, skate or just walk the Martin Gooodman trail which is the Lake Ontario portion of the Great Waterfront Trail which stretches from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Quebec border, along the shores of Lake Ontario and the Ontario portion of the St. Lawrence River.
No bike? no problem – you can use the Bixi bike system (https://toronto.bixi.com/) or hire from the rental shop under the Raddison Hotel.”Our” Martin Goodman portion of the cycle trail extends westwards past the Spadina Music Garden and Sunnyside pool, cafe and huge sandy stretch of beach, all the way along to an upfront close and personal view of the staggering “Grand Harbour at Lakeshore Boulevard” shore-front condominium complex. To the east it skirts the “Beaches” area of Toronto and sort of peters out before Scarborough bluffs
The Polson Pier complex east in the Port lands houses a couple of nightclubs – you fancy rounding off your day with some clubbing. There is also a Driving range; mini putting; a drive in movie theatre and beach volleyball and a Go Kart track

Beach
Want to sit and read a book on the beach. Again you have some choices.

Man-made beaches: you can choose an Algonquin lounger at Spadina beach or a deck chair at Sugar beach.
Cherry beach is a natural beach at the far east end of central Lakeshore – good for bathing; there is also a sailing club and it is skirted by the aforementioned Martin Goodman trail.
There is also the long expanse of boardwalked beach at Sunnyside to the west and a similarly boardwalked “Beaches” area east of the downtown core.
Eat
Try Pier 4, overlooking the Lake and the kitschiest most touristy restaurant in Toronto with its fishing nets, buoys and glass globes – so cliched, it actually works!!
Or simply watch the Lake schooners, ferries and sailboats (and the prop “Dash 8” planes flying low over the Lakeshore to and from the city airport) whilst sitting under sun umbrellas outside the restaurant on Wally MaGoos patio
Or get a different and lofty perspective and go up to the 38th floor to La Toula in the Westin’s circular but non-revolving restaurant jutting out across the Lake. Don’t expect much by way of food – seriously – just a great view.
Within the huge and glamourous Queens Quay centre adjacent to the tourist boat pier are 3 Waterfront restaurants – Bar Milano, the Waterfront Irish pub and W. On the 2nd floor there is a massive and old-established Chinese restaurant called Pearl with floor to ceiling views over the harbor and next to a small food court where you can sit on the verandah and watch the ferries ply to and from Toronto Island. The centre also houses speciality shops, gelato and coffee shops and exhibits plus you can purchase picnic food from Sobeys.
At Sugar Beach there is also “Against the Grain”
Tour
Countless options available – The Toronto sky-line is getting ever more spectacular and still topped by the streamlined and strikingly elegant CN Tower which at night is candy-cane bright with all the colours of the rainbow.
Sail on a Tall ship such as the Kajama
Stroll down to York Quay and you will find about 10 different styles of tour boat – paddle steamer; dine and tour options; the ubiquitous party boat and of course the cheapest of all -ride a Toronto Ferry back and forth.
The “Duck” also plys the Lakeshore, stopping off at Ontario PLace for a plunge into the harbour
Look out for the red jump on- jump off, double decker bus tours that stop off at various points along Lakeshore.
Learn
To sail, canoe or kayak at Harbourfront’s boating schools on Rees way – Trust me, nothing better on a summer’s evening than messing around in watercraft on the Lake; seeing the shore-line from a different perspective and watching the dying rays of the sunset alternately reflect from, and pick out in relief the massive glass and steel condo structures strung around the shoreline and clustering northwards into the city core.
You can also sign up for glass/ pottery and various other craft classes at the working studios flanking the Harbourfront centre.
Art
Visit the exhibits in the Power Plant (also part if the massive “Enwave” theatre complex)) which is currently hosting its ” World Stage” exhibition. The Harbourfront centre also has a large and ever changing display of art.For info on current exhibitions and events go to http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/
Performance
Throughout the summer, music and cultural performances/shows are staged at “The West Jet” open-air stage right on the quay. Free movies are often screened here from summer to summer depending upon funding.
A wonderful menu of every type of music imagineable is available on given evenings and weekends at Spadina Music Gardens to the west of the main Lakeshore drag. Google Spadina Music Gardens for more info on this
Escape
But hey, I hear you say ” I really do need to get out of the city and go to the cottage. So here’s the thing – even your “country in the city escape” is here too!
No need to spend hours traveling up and down to traditional cottage country when you have the fabulous Toronto Islands a ferry ride away. You can even stay at a bed & breakfast on the island or have a few days retreat at the Retreat Centre or at the Artscape Lodge (both centres are near Hanlans point west of the island)
Once again Lakeshore is the launchpad for the Toronto Island’s ferries which will take you to 3 points on the islands depending upon your mood.Do you want to rent a bike and cycle along boardwalk? Or use the beach by the pier or take the kids to Centre Park for some fun? – if so take the Centre Island Ferry.
Are you taking your bike over and want to explore the cute Island houses spanning both Algonquin and Ward island with their secret gardens and tiny laneways lining the shore and nestled amongst the trees? Best view of Toronto skyline from this perspective. The yacht club is also at this end. Then catch the Ward island Ferry.Or, you are inclined towards lush park land, white sandy beaches (including a nudist beach), the Retreats mentioned above and on Labour Day weekend a grandstand view of the Air show – then take the Ferry to Hanlans PointWorth a separate blog this……
Over and Out