Yesterday evening, not too long before sunset, we left the beach. We balled up our towels, collapsed our fancy beach chairs, took up and shook out the big beach blanket, trudged across the sand, and took the boardwalk to the main road. Once we were off the beach and into the greenery, the air was full of the scent of a humid country summer evening, plus a bit of marijuana smoke from someone nearby. As we walked the road between the trees, we could see to the right a lagoon with a quay and several boats tied up to it; to the left, just on the other side of a tall chain fence, the airport with its turboprop planes; and ahead, above the trees, tall buildings and the CN Tower, just across the harbour. And then we got to the ferry dock and waited.
No other city I’ve ever been to has such a sylvan, bucolic retreat just across water from the heart of town. Toronto Island (and its associated smaller islands) is a gem of parkland, carefree and car-free; within a half hour from downtown, with no driving involved, you can be swimming a great lake in cottage-country surroundings. And what makes it so are the ferries.