Canada Day 2 – Toronto Islands

Not only being in Canada now, but staying at my friend’s apartment meant that I no longer had to eat scrambled egg with mixed in bits of ham for breakfast. No more refried beans. Mexico was behind me. Instead my friend made us blueberry pancakes. Lots of them. So many in fact that there were more than we could eat. They tasted great and were topped with maple syrup – a every Canadian thing to do.

After breakfast we headed out and to start with my friend stopped by his workplace to get a map printed and to pick up his spare key whilst I spent the next 20 minutes waiting in the subway station. Once done we then headed on to Museum Station, one which is styled to look like it could be part of a museum with fancy historical-looking pillars.

This was a every brief stop and we got on the very next train to carry on to Union Station. Although only opened in 1927 it is a National Historic Site of Canada – though in fairness it probably is one of their oldest buildings there as the majority are very modern. It’s “Great Hall” though reminded me a lot of the main concourse in New York’s Grand Central Station – just smaller.

We then continued on through a series of indoor walkways (referred to as Skywalk), until we exited at the CN Tower. We didn’t bother going inside this or the Roger’s Stadium as we’d come back to these later – instead we continued on passed the Steam Museum (which was open as part of a special open day across Toronto) and onwards to the ferry port.

It wasn’t that long a walk, and the queue wasn’t that long to get in either. The wait lasted about 10 minutes but eventually we boarded the boat to Ward Island. On the boat it seemed very cold as the wind blew across the water – quite a contrast to what we’d been experiencing in Mexico just the day before. Once we arrived on the island though we looked back towards Toronto and got a brilliant view of the skyline.

There is then a board walk from there that goes across the far side off the island along the water. This was pretty cold along this walk though and we were both seriously considering looking to see if there was a shop on one of the islands that would sell jumpers. As we got closer to the centre island we started to go inland a little where it was out of the breeze more, and a little warmer.

Whilst on Center Island we stopped at a restaurant there for food, where I had a burger and fries that weren’t too bad. After this we explored Center Island a little more, but there wasn’t really much there so we continued on to towards Hanlan’s Point.

On the way to the ferry back we came across a lighthouse at Gibraltar Point which was open as part of the Toronto Open Doors day. It was a bit of a wait to go up as they’d only allow 4 in at a time for safety reasons, but it was fairly interesting to see. From the top you could see all over the islands and also got a good view back of the Toronto skyline. It’s apparently one of the oldest structures in Toronto, though based on the age of most buildings in Toronto it’s not really that surprising.

At Hanlan’s Point we waited around for the ferry for about 15 minutes and took it back to the mainland, though it did at first seem like it was going to go back to Ward Island. Back on the mainland we started to walk around, aimlessly at first, until we decided to see the old town hall as it was reportedly open as part of the Open Doors day.

On the way to our destination we saw a number of police cars parked up, and a crashed helicopter. At first we wondered what had happened, but as we got closer we realised that it was being set up as part of a film shoot. As we stood and took photographs of the helicopter crashed into a bus one of the others around us commented that it was one of the sets for the new DC Comics movie, Suicide Squad. This film would be featuring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and a number of other big names in what would be a spinoff (of sorts) of the new Batman vs. Superman movie.

As I finished photographing the helicopter I then realised that the police cars weren’t like other Toronto police cars we’d seen, they were in fact part of the production also as they had “Midway City” logos on them (a fictional Michigan city which is based on Chicago). It was really great to see this movie in production, but we moved on so we could get some pictures of the old town hall as planned.

By the time we got to the town hall they weren’t letting any more visitors in – they were closing at 16:00 and it was already 16:40 by this point. Unsure what to do next my friend then decided it would be a good idea to look at the Toronto University, but to go there via some of the other sights in the city.

On our trek to the University we went down Yonge Street, one of the major shopping areas downtown, and also one of the longest streets you will ever see. According to Wikipedia this street officially stretches for 34.8 miles. Part of the way along this road we paused at a plaza to watch a street performer.

When we got there the performer was juggling, and then after juggling with fire. To maintain interest from the crowds he then demonstrated the use of a whip and also a whip on fire – including with audience involvement. For the finale he then dislocated both of his shoulders and then put his entire body through a tennis racket that was on fire.

Once the performer had finished we gave a small donation and then moved on to the University. The grounds are fairly big, but there wasn’t really much there to photograph so we headed back to the subway station and headed for the shops to get some food in for the week.

To finish the day we cooked an evening meal and then sat and watched the season finale of Arrow, a DC Comics TV series that had recorded to his PVR whilst in Mexico.

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