The Toronto Islands were not always in fact islands but actually a series of continuously roaming sand-bars, or littoral drift
deposits, originating from the Scarborough Bluffs and carried westward by Lake Ontario currents. In the early 1800s, the
largest of these bars had grown nearly 9 kilometres south-west from Woodbine Avenue, through Ashbridge's Bay and the marshes
of the lower Don River, forming a natural harbour between the lake and the mainland.
Visitors have cherished the secluded lakeside charm and beauty for centuries. Considered a place of leisure and relaxation to
native peoples, the peninsula and surrounding sand-bars were only first surveyed in 1792 by Lieutenant Bouchette of the British
Navy. The main peninsula became known to European settlers as the "Island of Hiawatha". D.W. Smith's Gazetteer recorded in
1813 that "the long beach or peninsula, which affords a most delightful ride, is considered so healthy by the Indians that
they resort to it whenever indisposed". Many Indian encampments were located between the peninsula's base and the Don River.
The sand-bars have and continue to be an important ecosystem to birds and other wildlife. During migration periods vast
numbers of birds frequently stopped at the sand-bars and marshlands of the Don River and Ashbridge's Bay.
For complete information on the Toronto Islands please click here
Copyright 2003 -
2012 TorontoHarbour.com. All
rights reserved. The textual, graphic, audio and audiovisual material in this
site is protected by Canadian copyright law and international treaties. You
may not copy, distribute, or use these materials except as necessary for your
personal, non-commercial use. Any trademarks are the property of their