Friday, May 23, 2008

Toronto Islands

On my second outing of commando kayaking in Metro Toronto, I wrestled my inflatable kayak into my sister-in-law's car trunk. She dropped me at Square One in Mississauga, and I hopped onto the GO bus to Union Station, downtown Toronto.
Once there, I trundled the kayak into the station, down stairs, and onto a streetcar to the waterfront. It was a four-block walk, with Bay Street to cross, so the streetcar was a good alternative. Then onto the little ferry to the Toronto Islands.
When Bernie was here, he rented a plastic kayak from a place on Harbourfront. I was paddling the Dragonfly model inflatable and there was a lot of traffic in the harbour that morning, so the ferry seemed sensible. Sure enough, there were several sailboats out for their first bright day of the summer.
It was a bright day, from time to time, and just a little breeze to start that picked up as the day went on. I hopped off the ferry at Hanlan's Island, changed in the restroom, and puffed up the boat. Strapping everything on the deck was a little tricky, as it raised the centre of gravity, but the Dragonfly is a pretty stable ride. Putting anything under my seat was NOT on, as it raised MY centre of gravity high enough to mess with my muscle sense of balance.
Hanlan's Island is a nice place, less crowded than the rest of the islands. I saw many birds during the day, including a scarlet tanager and a kingfisher and something like a great blue heron with a short neck.
Five different tour boats cruised past me at intervals during the day. Lots of little power boats at marinas in these islands, and many houses on Ward's Island or Algonquin Island have boats and decks at the shoreline.
I made my way slowly around Centre Island to Ward's Island and got out at the ferry terminal there. note to self: launch and land on the east side of the terminal, not the west side as I did.
All in all, it was three and a half hours of paddling in quiet, sheltered waters (except when I rounded two islands, and that was still on the harbour side). I'll do it again someday, and hope to have friends along.


  1. Hi there. Found your site randomly through Google while I was looking for canoe trips to take around Toronto. Thinking that it was a good idea, given my lack of space and the price of canoe rentals in the city, I ordered an inflatable. People promptly thought I was crazy for a) buying a boat and b) not buying a "real" boat. I'm happy to see that an inflatable boat can take you on adventures in this city, and I look forward to following in your wake. :)

  2. Hey, David. Glad you found the site. Did you check out my posts on paddling the New Credit river in Mississauga (Called "Give Me Credit") and the Humber River in Etobicoke/Toronto?
    Found out that canoe rentals at are half-price if you pick up three bags of garbage.
    I like the portable quality of my inflatable. What model did you buy?

  3. Yup, I saw those other two posts. I'm planning on making the Humber the first of my pedal-and-paddle adventures this summer.

    I got a Sterns Back Country Inflatable Canoe. Still waiting on delivery. As well as taking your Humber, Islands and Credit trips, I'm planning on Darlington Provincial Park and some Lake Simcoe destination to be determined. I can't wait.

  4. Hah. Well, so much for the "pedal and paddle" idea. While the deflated size of the boat is convenient enough to strap onto a bike and go, the thing weighs over 50lb! Guess I should have asked about that first.

    Oh, well. I got it from the Ducks Unlimited auction, so at least some good came out of it. Now I have to decide if I'm going to keep it or resell it.

  5. 50 pounds is pretty heavy, but still able to be strapped onto a folding luggage roller and trundled onto the bus and streetcar and subway, then rolled down the hill from Old Mill Station to the river. Uphill will be an effort, but it's an easy grade.
    As for peddling, a BOB trailer might work for you.
    My inflatable kayak is a Dragonfly from -- I like it and at 20 pounds it suits my ability to carry things. Maybe you'll go to their website and see their different models. The AdvancedFrame 10.5 weighs 36 pounds, and it might suit you.

  6. I'll have to look into that. Thanks.

  7. I just stumbled across this post while looking for info on whether you can bring your own canoe down to the airport ferry terminal and canoe across the short calm stretch there and then on to Toronto Islands. Seemed like an idea. Thought I was Mr. Gung Ho.

    Now I'm reading about people lugging inflatable canoes on Go trains and streetcars and I feel like an amateur. Way to go you people! Talk about dedication to finding entertainment in the urban jungle. I think I'll still be smiling about this tomorrow.

  8. Glad you liked reading the post! I'm a big fan of kayaking where I live, or where I'm visiting (like during that trip to Toronto). There's plenty of fun to be had in lots of places. And Toronto's not that far from Algonquin park and other wild & wooly places!