Many locals don’t know that you can camp on Toronto Island, as long as you belong to a non-profit youth group like the Girl Guides of Canada, Boy Scouts and YMCA.
Groups must acquire a permit through the City of Toronto for 1 of 4 campsites on a small island reached by canoe or bridge off of Toronto Island. A word of caution, though there is a sign on the bridge that says access by permit only, many passerbys tend to not notice the sign, meaning camp adults must be on alert for strangers. It’s advised to bring a sign to secure to the bridge and beaches to help deter interruptions.
Our group met at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal with our packs and couple of wagons to pull larger items. Other items were transported by van which could only board and deboard on the far side of the island. Two other units joined us by voyageur canoes. Which took out to tour the island when they unloaded.
Out canoe tour took us through the canals, to the lighthouse and back.
The island is full of stories, historical, political and ghost. The lighthouse holds perhaps the most macabre of them all. This story of bootlegging and decapitation filled the girl’s heads for the rest of the camp and still comes up today. Perhaps I’ll record these stores another day.
The campsite is simple. There is no electricity. There is a water pump near the bridge and a washroom accessible by door code provided to your group before your arrival. Meals on the beach had to be simple. Only wood fires are permitted on Toronto Island – no propane. Meals were kept simple. These included milk carton hot dogs, chicken noodle soup with couscous, salad, s’mores and oatmeal for breakfast.
Other activities included making fire starters, exploring the island by foot, and playing in a nearby playground.
Mostly we enjoyed the skyline.