Toronto Islands (Wards Island)

I had all summer to make it to the islands, but in true Mishy tradition, I missed the boat, figuratively speaking ... (I was too busy!) Although I must admit I am a bit of a non-conformist so naturally I chose to visit in the wintertime, but yet on a beautiful snowy and sunny day nevertheless.
If you've never had the opportunity to do so, you must make a visit to the Toronto island before the crowds come in the summer.  
(keep in mind though that there is no ferry to Centre Island).  The Islands are a hook-shaped chain of more than a dozen small and large islands.

The ferry boards daily at varying times at the foot of Bay Street in Toronto.  As the boat left, I imagined this same voyage in the 19th century when the service first began to operate in 1833.  Back then the vessels were powered by two horses that walked on treadmills connected to a pair of sidepaddles by a set of gears!!

The Toronto Islands came to be over thousands of years as they formed by eroded sand and gravel from nearby Scarborough bluffs, which carried the sediment by the currents of the lake and and deposited it around the mouth of the Don River.  Over time, the winds began to shape the built up sand ridge into a peninsula about 8 km long.  In 1852, it began separating when the waves caused by a fierce storm broke the sandy arm.  Another gale struck in 1858 which left a 150m gap.  Believe it or not, within two years the gap had widened to almosts 1km creating a natural entrance into Toronto harbor.  I suppose this place was meant to be...
I just love history! :) There is so much to do here, moreso in the warmer months like your typical beaching activities (which I don't prefer), carnival rides at Centre Island, wildlife areas and exploring (which I do prefer).  

As you take in all the charming homes, you will see a different type of lifestyle here.  There are no garages because there are no cars, friendly folk who love to chat and love the peace and quiet, except for the sounds of birds overhead.   The residential communities on the island are known as both Algonquin and Wards Island, separated by a bridge known as the Algonquin bridge.

At the bridgepoint is a public marina as well as two restaurants on the Wards Island, but are closed now.

Off into the distance you can see the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse and is well worth a walk or bike ride, but after the massive snow pile up lately, there was no direct way to get there.  Some history (of course) on the lighthouse.  It was built in 1809 and is the oldest lighthouse on the great lakes so naturally it comes complete with its own ghost :) and he has a name, which is of J.P. Radmuller.  He was the first keeper of the house was reportedly murdered by drunken soldiers and now haunts the tower seeking revenge! 

At this point, I wondered what would happen to these people if there was ever an emergency, but my worry was put to rest as I spotted an EMS station, equipped with its own Fire engine, Ambulance and medics (run by the City of Toronto, of course)

Well all it all in it was an awesome day, both weather wise and to go exploring.  You know even though you are just minutes from the downtown core, here this place sure felt like a different place in time.