I recently came across a very interesting book called '1000 Places to See Before You Die' by Patricia Schultz and although I'm not sure whether or not Toronto Island made her list, it certainly should be there.
In early August a friend and I decided to sail over to Toronto Island and spend a few days exploring. Although I've lived in Ontario for most of my life and have visited Toronto many times, I had never been to Toronto Island before and now, after our recent visit there, I see that I've been missing out on one of our provinces most intriguing places.
While moored at Toronto Island, we were in awe of the fact that downtown Toronto was so close, and yet we felt as though we were on a distant island paradise of forests, beaches and trails.
Toronto Island has an intriguing history extending back to the days when aboriginal people called it home. They saw it as a place of great spiritual mystery and magic and often took vacations there from the mainland.
Over the years Toronto Island became the playground of the wealthy and eventually the City of Toronto began to develop it into a place that preserved the natural beauty while still providing features that appealed to all ages and income levels.
Today thousands of people from all over the world take a ferry over to the island and spend the day exploring the many trails, attractions and beaches.
It's one of the few places in Ontario where an official 'clothing optional' beach can be found and even though the day we visited was windy and cool, some visitors there were oblivious to the weather as they bared their all to the elements.
During our stay there we took the Hanlan Point ferry over to the mainland and did some exploring of Queen's Quay in downtown Toronto.
The South-east Asia festival was on and we were treated to a show by colourful and talented Tibetan dancers.
Taking cover from a storm, we came across a cosy auditorium where East Indian food was being prepared by a master chef and as curry and rice scents drifted through the air, I couldn't help but be enamoured at the wide variety of visitors from so many different cultures and backgrounds.
I truly love it in that area of Toronto. The energy level is amazing and everyone is friendly.
Again, there is so much to see and explore, you would need to spend many days there to see it all.
As soon as there was a break in the weather, we headed for the ferry that would take us back home to the island.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend the day and we arrived back at the boat just in time to miss a major downpour.
The evening saw a clearing in the skies and a great peace took over the Toronto harbour and the island inlet where we were moored.
I can't even begin to describe the magical feeling I felt as I gazed across the water to the lights of the beautiful Toronto skyline.
Tourboats run day and evening from the Toronto harbour and in and around the many inlets of the island, offering tourists a comfortable and exciting way to see the island for themselves.
We were only moored at the island for two nights and did not have enough time to explore all the places that I wanted to see and the weather was touch and go with many thunderstorms and downpours during our stay.
I've made a vow to myself to visit again, soon, and this time explore more completely since the little that I saw was very beautiful and intriguing.
As you can see from the following slide show, an abundance of new experiences awaits you when you come to the Toronto waterfront.
I know it would take many visits there to see everything and I've put this on my list of the thousand places I want to see 'again', before I leave this fragile blue planet we call home.
Jo-Anne Smith, the author of this article, is a REALTOR® with Royal Lepage ProAlliance Realty, Brokerage, in Belleville, Ontario and welcomes your real estate inquiries. To contact her, visit www.QuinteRegionRealEstate.com