Biking to the Islands #2

When I went to the Toronto Islands last week, I didn’t have much time to bike around beyond Ward’s Island, but did want to get the chance to go further, and poke around Centre Island – a place pretty much overrun with people on summer weekends.

I hadn’t been to Centre Island for over 50 years(!), except for one memorable blues festival in 1974 which featured Son House‘s last public performance, plus the great Johnny Otis and Roy Buchanan among others. (Just found a terrific video from the early 70’s of Johnny with son Shuggie playing with Buchanan. Video quality is bad, but the music is great!)

The weather forecast for tomorrow is snow, but today was another gorgeous January day, temperature a few degrees below freezing, sun shining and not a cloud to be seen.

A perfect day for biking.

Co-incidentally, while on the island, I came across a couple of tweets from Sean Marshall (@SeanYYZ) about the islands.  One tweeted a link to an article on the Spacing website, “Exploring “downtown” Centreville in the winter: A ghost town in more ways than one” about the history of the Islands, as a once bustling (relatively speaking) residential community. The other tweet linked to a post on Sean’s website about his day biking the Islands last December.

Besides Centre Island, I looked forward to the fun of ferrying through the ice there and back, watching the ice split and move away from the boat, and then gather back together after we passed, all accompanied by a great ice-crunching sound track.

While buying my ticket, I got into a conversation with the ticket collector about what a beautiful day it was, and how much I enjoyed the icy trip across the bay. She told me she has worked there for 27 years, but has never taken the ferry to the Islands! She said she knew she had to one day, and I told her to make sure she did.

A one minute clip, to the island and back:

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January biking in Toronto

When I decided to retire at the end of December last year, I briefly thought that wouldn’t be a good time of year, as I planned to use some of my free time for biking around Toronto. But (knock on wood), as long as we don’t have the constant snow/ice/Arctic temperatures of last winter, I figure I’ll be ready to explore Toronto on bike in the cold.

So far, it’s been great. I bought some good winter biking gear from two of my favourite bike shops (Sweet Pete’s and Urbane Cyclist), replaced the lights that some lowlife stole recently(!), and since I retired just before Christmas, I’ve traveled a lot more kilometers by bike than by car.

Here, a few photos and one short video from the past week:

Monday, I took a ride to check out the spiffy new cleaned-up Union Station. Thursday, a gorgeous, sunny day just a few degrees below zero, I took a quick trip over to Ward’s Island, my first winter trip to the Toronto islands. It was great fun watching (and listening to) the ferry grind through the ice (already broken by an icebreaker), but the chunks would come together again after we passed through.

On the way to Ward’s… (Note: click icon in bottom right for full screen)

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Photos from Monday & Thursday (click for larger image; click left or right to scroll through pics)