photography TBEX Toronto

Centre Island Toronto photo essay

One of Toronto’s main attractions is a Harbour Cruise or ferry ride over to the Toronto Islands. Centre Island is the largest of the islands. Two facts highlighted on three different tours I made while in Toronto is Hanlan Point is where Babe Ruth hit his first professional baseball home run September 5, 1914 and Hanlan Beach is a clothing optional beach where full nudity is permitted.


Babe Ruth hit his first home run as a minor league professional on Centre Island at the Maple Leaf Park in 1914.

Who was Ned Hanlan?

Edward ‘Ned’ Hanlan (1855-1908) was a Toronto-born professional sculler who lost only six races in 300 during his career from 1876 to 1884. He was world champion sculler for five consecutive years from 1880-1884. In later life he was a hotelier, alderman in Toronto and rowing coach for University of Toronto before moving to New York to coach the rowing team at Columbia University.


Edward Hanlan statue at Hanlan Point ferry terminal, Centre Island, Toronto.

There are several beaches, a small amusement park, a few cafes, an artist center and an island school on Centre Island.

In the 1920s the area was popular for American tourists with bars, hotels and the baseball park during the Prohibition years when alcohol consumption was illegal in the U.S.

These days much of the islands are forest and park lands and provide a large bird sanctuary for resident and migratory birds. Automobiles are not allowed on the island except for maintenance vehicles and the school bus.

Toronto is a noisy city down by the waterfront with all the construction currently happening. Centre Island is a place to chill out in the park.


Centreville Amusement Park.


Centre Island ferry is one of three docks for travelers between the Toronto ferry docks and the Toronto Islands. Hanlan’s Point (west) and Ward’s Island (east) are the other two ferry landings.


There were about 100 of these gorgeous flowers around an Eastern Redbud tree. I have no idea what they are called.


  • Niagara Falls 65 km.
  • North Pole 4,521 km.
  • Halifax 1,269 km.
  • Vancouver 3,371 km.
  • New York City 548 km.


Chilling in the park.


Gibraltar Point beach Lake Ontario.


Gibraltar Point Lighthouse is one of the earliest lighthouses on the Great Lakes completed in 1808 at a height of 52 feet. The first lightkeeper disappeared in 1815 and discovery of skeletal remains nearby  led to folklore of a haunted lighthouse. The lighthouse was extended to 82 feet in 1832.


Gibraltar Point Lighthouse door.


Bizarrely appropriate place setting near the lighthouse lends credence to the haunting legend.


These trees washed up on the shore made me think of the Ontario born folksinger Gordon Lightfoot and his song The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.


The island world away from the city.


Canadian geese feeding on the lawn. There are even coyotes in the island woods.


My tundra swan friend. Those two ducks actually flew up beside me and were nearly sitting in my lap.


There are paved roads, few vehicles and bike riding is a popular mode of transportation around the islands.


Road to Hanlan’s Point.

Hanlan’s Beach, the clothing optional beach, has an ornate wood entrance to the beach boardwalk.


Entrance to Hanlan Beach.

There were nude sunbathers in the sand dunes sheltered from the wind by beach shrubs even at 6pm on a cool evening around 60F.

No photos. That would be creepy.


“Clothing is required beyond this point.”


Island Natural Science School. My wife and I were school teachers in several towns in Maine and California with a population under 2,000. We interviewed for a couple of island school teaching jobs including Isle of Haut, Acadia National Park. We have taught in some scenic settings, but never on an island. This school looks like a cool place to be a teacher.


Geese near the Centre Island bridge by Centreville.

I came over Centre Island courtesy of Toronto Harbour Tours as a TBEX attendee with a Tourism Toronto pass for a variety of museums and tours (Normal adult ticket price is $15.00 to $19.95). My three hour hike around Centre Island meant I missed the last Toronto Harbour Tour boat at 5:30pm. The public ferry ride back to Toronto is free from the islands. The cost is $7.00 departing from the city.


Mute swan flapping its wings.


“So move your feet from hot pavement and into the grass” – The Suburbs by Arcade Fire, another Canadian band from Montreal, Quebec.


Shopsy’s (1921) is where the TBEX conference had a Saturday night private party on June 1 hosted by Expedia.


Toronto Skyline.


Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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  • karung99 June 4, 2013

    Ric, Thank you for all those beautiful pictures, enjoy those.
    Safe travels

  • Danh T. June 4, 2013

    I always enjoy your trip reports and photos. Thank you Ric!

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