Saturday, October 8, 2016

Late Fall Daytrip to the Toronto Islands

Back in the summer of 2010, I had brought my 14' cedar canvas canoe down to the city and spent a brief afternoon paddling the Toronto Islands. It was a nice little distraction and pretty interesting paddle in Canada's largest urban region.

This year my September solo trip plans were again completely hijacked by family responsibilities. Luckily this past week, the city was blessed with summer-like weather and I had the chance to spend a few hours back on the water, this time with the recently refurbished 14' Chestnut / Peterborough.

The main purpose of the trip was to de-stress and take the chance to test some recently completed paddles along with current designs still being worked on.

Testing out 4 different paddle designs

The wind was pretty heavy blowing SE at around 20km/hr so the portion from the Cherry Beach put-in to the Eastern Gap of Toronto's Inner Harbour was an adventure in itself. Between the waves and boat wakes, it was a real test of the little Chesntnut's ability to handle some uneven conditions and it performed well in my opinion.

Entering the Inner Harbour. Ward's Island on the left

Once around the corner of Ward's Island, the wind was completely absent and the waters were peacefully still. Below is a photo of the undeveloped area after passing the many pleasure boats of Queen City Yacht Club.

The Islands were quite serene as the various summer camps were obviously done and Centreville Amusement Park also shut down for the season. Loads of canoes were stacked on shore with no one around to paddle them.

A little while later I spotted this heron wading on the shore. This would be the first of four herons I'd see...

Next, I paddled to the "Sunfish Cut", with its view of the city skyline. It can be be very popular place with photographers. The CN tower was reflecting pretty well in the nearly still water.

Popped onto a little beach to drain the boat. The canoe is still leaking ever so annoyingly at the rear stem...something to care of next season. Also took a moment to take a photo of the recently completed Sassafras Tripper. Really liked how it turned out although I think most people would not like the amount of flex carved into this one.

Heard some flapping and turned around to find another heron spying on me at the beach stop. These guys are so used to people that nothing seems to phase them.

Off I went for more urban adventure under another of the Islands' many bridges...

Soon, the invigourating country smell of the Islands' Far Enough Farm wafted from around the corner. Hard to tell in the photo below, but there's a cow at the rear of the pen. Saw some sheep and a peacock prancing about. A rooster was crowing adding to the rural feel. Apparently the farm is home to 40 different animals.

Shoreline of the Far Enough Farm

After paddling some more, it was getting close to lunch time. Pulled into the Carousel Cafe for some takeout. I had forgotten to bring my rope on this trip, so the canoe was hoisted onto shore on a grassy slope.

Takeout time

After quickly getting my order, it was off to find a shady willow tree and enjoy a floating meal...


Like last time, a juicy burger was the selection of choice. 

Eating well

Heard some rustling in the grass behind me. Turned around thinking that I'd see another one of Toronto's ubiquitous black squirrels running about. Instead it was this MINK!

Apparently, they've been slowly colonizing the area over the last few years. Here's a link to a Toronto Star report from 2010 mentioning how they migrated over to prey on muskrats and stayed after finding easy pickings of goldfish in some ponds. This is only the second time I've seen a mink while paddling. 

After that exciting bit of wildlife spotting, it was time to rush back in order to make a medical appointment for my son. Here is the view exiting the marina where the waters were so calm.

Once leaving these protected  waters, one quickly enters back into the industrialized zone of the Portlands and Harbour. The wind I dealt with at the start of the trip continued to blow so to make it back, I had to paddle along the Eastern breakwall lined with gigantic tires. Rumbling trucks spewed diesel exhaust into the air so it didn't make for the nicest moment.

Eventually got back to the launch and found the bay filling up with thrill seeking kite boarders. Maybe one day I'll rig up a kite to the canoe and go for a ripping ride...


Elspeth Soper said...

What a lovely blog! The canoe and the paddles look lovely and how exciting to have seen a mink! I visited those Islands when I was in Toronto last summer. The whole environment is bizarrely wonderful with Toronto's futuristic skyline across the water. And then, one of the islands is an airport! I love it all!

Murat said...

Thanks Elspeth! It can be a very loud place with a carnival-like atmosphere but fun to paddle around.

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