Toronto’s Ward’s Island Homes in Pictures

1.35min read
Published 30 August 2016


While thousands take the short ferry ride over to Toronto’s Centre Island for a day of fun every summer, few know about its eastern end, commonly called Ward’s Island, as a thriving residential area housing a generations-old community.


Away from the carnival games and rides of Centreville, the clothing optional beach at Hanlan’s Point and the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, about 300 all-season homes remain on the Toronto Islands. The Ward’s Island residents occupy roughly 12 acres or 150 homes with the remainder on adjacent Algonquin Island.

Wards Island Signpost pointing to important locations, such as beach, and washrooms

As it has been since 1915, most of the streets are named in sequence, as First, Second, Third and so on. The island has two daycare centres, a school and a church. Grocery shopping and just about everything else is still done on the mainland.

Wards Island House - outside heater and potplant

The highly sought-after homes here are generally passed down in the family as there are strict rules under provincial law governing buying and selling, although a couple are now available for rent through airbnb.

Wards Island House - outside view of the fireplace, large fern and trees in the foreground

The islands have been a draw for Canadian artists for years for their easy escape from Toronto’s bustle. Today, government subsidized Artscape has almost 20 artist work studios here used by painters, sculptors, writers and musicians. There’s even a theatre company here as well as a recording studio.

Wards Island House - front door view, large open windows and lush shrubbery

While most houses here are humble, cottage-style abodes, a couple with recent structural upgrades offer a more contemporary feel. What they all have in common though, new or old, is undeniable charm and character. They are kitschy, quirky and loved – even the somewhat dilapidated ones.

Wards Island House - side view, yellow walls reaching up behind overgrown shrubs and trees

Earlier this summer, a friend and I took our bikes out to explore the island and its seldom seen community. The following pictures demonstrate the variety and warmth of some of the houses we came across. All were photogenic and beautiful in their own way and an absolute treat to admire. Here’s a quick peek. Enjoy!

Wards Island House - front of house hidden behind bushes and vines
Wards Island House - wooden footpath leading to front door, large white-bark tree to the side
Wards Island House - two storey blue house with white lined windows and maroon windows. Beautiful flowers line the front entrance
Wards Island House - wooden curtain hanging in the front yard, with a yellow door in the background
Wards Island House - log cabin with blue window frames and white flowers
Wards Island House - gunmetal grey two storey house with maroon window frames and gutters
Wards Island House - Large wooden gate in a backyard with a heart-shaped top

Whether you are taking the city operated ferry or one of the private water-taxi companies between Toronto harbour and the islands, bicycles are free to transport and offer the perfect way to get around. Toronto’s magic is in its neighbourhoods and the Toronto Islands offer yet another perfect example.


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