Summer is a wonderful time in Toronto. The sun shines, the birds sing, and a lush blanket of green covers much of the city. And one of the greatest pleasures at this time of year is visiting the Toronto islands, a chain of islets that sits just off the city’s shoreline, sheltering the harbour. That is, it’s one of the greatest pleasures most years — but not in 2017.
That’s because, as the first day of summer draws near, the Toronto islands are closed. The ferries are running, but only to transport the few people who live on Ward’s Island, at the easternmost end of the chain. For everyone else, the islands are off limits, and the latest reports say it’ll stay that way until the end of July.
The reason is water. Ironically, for a place that’s defined by water, there’s too much of it this year. You may have heard about the serious flooding that struck Quebec this spring after weeks of heavy rain. (I even saw it on TV newscasts in Europe.) Toronto escaped the worst of it, but the high water levels did play havoc with a few areas — one of which is the islands. At the moment, they’re partly under water: the beaches have disappeared, the waterways are swollen, the amusement park is empty and closed.
At this time of year, I usually get up early on a few mornings and take the ferry over to the Toronto islands, to enjoy the green woods and the fresh air. And very often I come back with photographs of some of the thousands of birds that use the islands as a resting spot on their yearly migrations. The osprey at right was one of the highlights of last year’s visits.
This year, that’s not going to happen, at least for a while. So instead, I thought I’d share a photo of one of my favourite places on the islands, a spot where I’ve seen everything from herons to hawks to beavers — even the odd mink. Maybe a bit later this summer I’ll get to return, and see it once again. For now, though, perhaps this picture can take us there, for a moment or two.