Winter on Toronto Islands

Since doing some work on the islands over the winter I realized how beautiful the islands and the city are at this time of year. So my friend Nigel and I decided to take a trip to the Toronto Islands to explore and photograph the area.

Toronto Harbour

Toronto Harbour

The Toronto ice breaker ferry only travels to Ward’s Island, which is located on the eastern point of the islands. From here you can walk along the boardwalk on the south shore or the main road down the middle of the islands. We decided to walk the boardwalk to Centre Island and then take the main road back to catch the ferry.

Ward's Island path - Colour

Ward’s Island path – Colour

Instead of heading directly to the boardwalk we explored some of the homes and parks on Ward’s Island first. Near a beach we found this path surrounded by birches. I played around with a fog filter to get the effect you see in the photos.

Ward's Island path - B&W

Ward’s Island path – B&W

I can’t decide if I like colour version or the black and white version. Which do you prefer?

Skating on the harbour

Skating on the harbour

Heading back toward the ferry on the main road we came upon some ice skaters enjoying the sunny winter day. The inner harbours around the island are shallow and freeze quickly and they also make a nice ice rink with a spectacular view.

A Ghost Town

We were still four hours from home but we wanted to stop at Depot Harbour before we pulled into our homes and got back to reality. There apparently is a ghost town located on the island.

Rose Point


While driving to our destination we stopped just off the road to get a photo of the small harbours. I loved how calm it looked with its overcast skies.

After some driving around at Depot Harbour we finally found what we were looking for – an old ghost town.

Ghost Town

Ghost Town

Some history on the site: Back in 1890 John Booth created the town of Depot Harbour to move his lumber to the area now known as Algonquin Park via a railway that was taken over by CNR in 1918. In 1993 the railway was damaged by a spring ice floe and was never repaired, bringing less and less ships to Depot Harbour. In 1945, the shops stopped arriving and by 1964 the town was abandoned. You can still see remnants of the old buildings (as shown in the photo above). Depot Harbour is the largest Ontario town to become a ghost town.

Permission to view the site must be obtained from the Wasauksing First Nations Band Office.

Blue Ice

I received a text from a photographer friend of mine who had recently done a photo shoot up in Meaford. He told me that a rare phenomenon was happening in the harbour – Blue Ice. So you know I had to get my butt up there stat.


I found this shipwreck in the parking lot of the lunch place. Okay, it’s not really a shipwreck – just a boat someone put there cause it looked cool. Anyhoo, after some grub,¬†I headed to the waterfront.

Blue Ice Phenomenon

So here is what happens according to science: Blue ice is formed when there is a lack of bubbles inside the ice and the ice is dense and thick. It also absorbs blue wavelengths which means when the light is reflected from the ice it appears to be blue. Regular white ice has bubbles inside and absorbs all the colour wavelengths which give it an appearance of white or clear. Intersting, no?

Okay here’s an interesting side note: When scuba diving the last colour wavelength to disappear before total darkness descends upon you is blue. Red is the first to go.

Moving on:

The light was a little harsh for photos and every time the sun hid behind some clouds all the blue went away and things looked dreary. I did meet some nice people out on the beach photographing the ice but eventually the cold and lack of ideas on how to shoot this called me back to the car. I mean really? All this great ice and nothing was inspiring for me? I really wanted this to work but I got nada.

Ye Ole Door

So instead I give you Ye Ole Door instead. Talk about inspiration dying a slow death. Argh – some days just suck.

Chilly Cold Toronto

The winter has been quite cold and of course I’ve had to make two trips to the Toronto Islands but today’s trip was a little warmer than January’s. Which is not saying too much. It is winter after all.

Queen's Quay Boardwalk
Queen’s Quay Boardwalk

There has been slight melt but things got cold again and even the city skyline looks chilled.

A Chilly Day in Toronto
A Chilly Day in Toronto

And those low lying clouds covering the top of the tower make things that much chillier looking. Luckily I don’t have to spend the whole day here as I hop on the ferry and head home to warm house.