Begin your tour of Toronto's Waterfront.
The future Waterfront
Imagine you've just arrived at the western edge of our Toronto waterfront. Here's what you might see:
You're in Colonel Samuel Smith Park - once the home of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. The old Power House is now a park centre overlooking a skating loop. The Assembly Hall has been restored and you check their schedule of forums, films, concerts and arts and crafts exhibits.
Leaving the park, you have a decision to make. Do you want to go to the Scarborough Bluffs 46 kilometres to the east? If so you can bike there along the waterfront trail, or hop on a streetcar that will take you all the way. Maybe you just want to go to Ontario Place - you can board a ferry and it'll take you there. But today, you just feel like strolling by the lake, so you follow the "greenway" that hugs the entire Toronto waterfront.
Walking east along the Etobicoke lakeshore, you notice that many streets now seem to end in an outlook on the lake. These are some of the fourteen "windows on the lake". Some of them have piers where kids are fishing or diving into the lake for a swim.
Continuing east, you come to Humber Bay and stroll past the new bridges at Mimico Creek and the Humber River. The beaches at Sunnyside and Sir Casimir Gzowski Park are much wider than you remember them from your childhood, and people are playing volleyball. Out on the lake, canoes and kayaks are going by.
Passing by High Park, you just can't wait for winter so you and your kids can hit the tobogganing hills. When you arrive at the western boundary of Ontario Place, you're tempted to follow the beautiful wide waterfront promenade all the way to Ashbridges Bay - those two seniors in wheelchairs certainly seem to be enjoying it. But you're feeling a little weary so you hop on the streetcar to Union Station.
Leaving Toronto Union Station, you have a dizzying array of options. Do you go over to the new festival square in the Central Waterfront where 150,000 people are gathered for a music festival? Head over to the Music Garden for the quieter classical sounds? Cheer on the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre (formerly Skydome) or the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre? Maybe just a quick trip to the waterside aquarium followed by people-watching at the huge public square between Queen's Quay and York Centre.
Start the next day with a peaceful morning wandering the butterfly reserve at North Shore Park in the Port Lands. Visit the multi-media entertainment facilities. That'll really whet your appetite for the wetlands, so walk over to the Tommy Thompson Urban Wilderness Park, keeping your eyes open for white-tailed deer. As you leave the Port Lands, you'll probably see a cruise ship coming into the shipping channel or a ferry heading south to Rochester.
You continue east to the site of the old Greenwood Race Track, now a massive park with an ornamental fountain and with 3,000 people living on its edge. There's a bandshell where 20,000 people are sitting in a field listening to the annual Beaches International Jazz Festival. Finally you end up at the Scarborough Bluffs, where the view is spectacular and crowds of people are watching hang-gliders. Why not give it a try? You can always catch your breath over a drink at the restored Guild Inn, or while wiggling your toes in the sand at Rouge Beach Park.