Toronto Vacation Spots: The Toronto Islands
Did you know that there are islands in close proximity to Toronto? Yes, there are islands a short ferry ride away from the shoreline of the city. These islands are what is known today as Toronto Island Park and it is a popular tourist attraction when vacationing to this Canadian metropolis called Toronto. This is a place with walking/bicycle paths, bicycle rentals, an amusement park, a lighthouse, sports facilities, and beaches.
The Toronto Islands were not always islands but are actually the result of a long sandbar peninsula caused by drifts in Lake Ontario. For centuries they were known as a pleasant place to relax and Europeans knew them as the Islands of Hiawatha. The bottom of a river is a somewhat unstable place and sandbars drift or erode. The land form went from peninsula to islands largely due to a storm in 1858 that wiped out a lot of the land bridge. In 1956, the City of Toronto designated that these islands be developed into a park. Dredging projects have been going on since the 1940s to continue to stabilize the land forms and prevent erosion of the islands.
One of the areas on the islands is known as Hanlan’s Point. The Hanlan Family was one of the first families to live fulltime on the islands. They settled down at a place on the islands known as Gibralter Point in 1862. In 1867 the City of Toronto allowed the land to be subdivided into areas for summer cottages, resort hotels, and amusement parks. One of the Hanlans, John Hanlan, built a hotel at the northwest tip of the island which became known as Hanlan’s Point. By the 1890s, Toronto would see three more resort hotels built at the point as well as the addition of a summer recreational center.
Another interesting historical feature on the Toronto Islands is the Gibralter Point Lighthouse. Built in 1808, this was one of Toronto’s first lighthouses. This lighthouse at one time was reported to be the most prominent in North American waters. There is even a story associated with it to add to its mysticism. The story is that the first lighthouse operator, J.P. Radan Muller was murdered in a very violent way and the crime has never been solved. This adds a point of interest for those “ghost hunting” tourists.
For those looking for affordable family amusement, there is a great amusement park on the islands known as the Centreville Amusement Park. This amusement park boasts itself of having 30 rides and 14 places to eat all on 600 acres of land. They have something for everyone in the family.
So whatever your recreational desire is, it can probably be found at the Toronto Islands. Don’t leave Toronto without visiting them.
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