No Lighthouse at the End of the Ferry

Ward IslandYesterday, we took the ferry to Toronto Islands. Originally, the goal was to see the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, but that idea faded with time. The current goal was just to see the islands.

Comprising of several small landmasses, the islands situated on Lake Ontario include one where Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport calls home. Other islands have small residential communities, amusement parks, and yachting clubs. Ward Island has 750 permanent residents in 500 homes.

During this time of year, the Parks, Forestry & Recreation (sounds like a TV show) ends the ferry service to all islands with the exception of Ward Island. We took the ferry there at a cost of $7 for me; Ron’s ticket was $4 round-trip. After a fifteen-minute ride, we were ashore on Ward Island.

I can imagine that during the spring and summer, the island is lovely. Even now with mostly Canada - Toronto November 2015 277leafless trees, there is a charm to the place. Other than some service vehicles, there are no cars permitted. Modes of transport are bike or walking if you are not a member of the yacht club.

On the same ferry, there was a Rubenesque older woman who generally would not have gathered much attention except for the culmination of her appearance. Her hair was greying, curly and untamed, reminiscent of Medusa. Her face chronicled every hardship she must have lived through by creating cavernous wrinkles like a road map on steroids. Her dress was close to ankle length as was her bright purple overcoat. She required more of my attention than politeness would allow. I could not stop thinking of the Jenny Joseph poem “When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple”.

We headed in the direction of the Rectory Café, the only business open during this off-season period. As we were walking, this same unique woman rode past us on a bike. Her only comment was “You should walk along the boardwalk!” Ron responded that we first wanted a coffee at the café. She seemed to approve of this as she took off. If we spotted flying monkeys overhead, the scene would have been complete.

Surprisingly, the Rectory Café was quite busy when we arrived with few vacant tables. Just looking at the dessert menu standing idly on the table, gave me pause to gasp more air than normal. Really? Nine dollars for a slice of cake? What is in it, gold? I feared looking at the full menu. A bowl of soup was $7; we both indulged. It was more like a generous cup than a real bowl, but it was tasty and hot, tamping down the chill from outside. The café itself is nothing special. Through its various carnations, it really was a rectory where the only Catholic priest on the island lived.

We did walk along the boardwalk for a couple of miles, looking at the loons, the birds famously depicted on the Canadian dollar coin. They impressive dived underwater for what seemed like an inordinate amount of time. It gave me more of a chill watching them on the cold Lake Ontario.

View from CN Tower

View from CN Tower

Overall, the island was delightful. We never did discover the lighthouse, but the day was passing and we had the CN Tower to explore yet.

Once on the mainland, we walked to the CN Tower. We had a ticket in our Toronto Pass, so we could bypass any lines. Buying a ticket on site will cost $34 for adults and $25 for seniors and children.

Walking through the express lanes with pass

Sunset from CN Tower

Sunset from CN Tower

in hand, we were ushered into an elevator with a partial glass floor. We ascended 114 stories at 15 miles per hour, letting us off at the LookOut Level where windows give you a 360-degree look of the city of Toronto. One short flight of stairs down is the Glass Floor level. Standing on glass that is 2 ½ inches thick, you can look straight down 1,122 ft. Not for me thank you very much; I only looked from a distance. It would be too embarrassing fainting anywhere on the 256 square feet of solid glass.

In one area they post the glass can withstand the weight of 35 moose and in another, it shows it can withstand the weight of 14 hippos. I want to see the photo evidence of these tests.

People with a death wish

People with a death wish

For an extra fee, you can climb even higher to the SkyPod at 1465 feet. Certainly, the view cannot be $12 more titillating. We said no thanks to this one. For those with a real death wish, there is the extreme EdgeWalk. After being harnessed and attached to cables, you walk around the outer edge of the tower with your back facing your potential death spot on the ground. You walk all 360 degrees, so should you lose your nerve once you start, you are committed because you are holding up the line of the other crazies alongside of you.

It was with great gratitude that we reached the ground level once more.

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.