The Beach in Toronto

Dear Readers, on our last full day in Toronto we took a walk along The Beach in Toronto. It’s actually the edge of Lake Ontario, so there isn’t any marine life, but on a gorgeous sunny day (only the second of our fifteen-day visit) you could easily be looking at the ocean. The Beach is actually four separate beaches, but as people have almost come to blows over whether this area is called ‘The Beaches’ or ‘The Beach’ I have opted for the current favoured name.

The sand for the beach actually comes from the erosion of the cliffs at Scarborough Bluffs to the east, but the current carries the sand away. Various rocky groynes have been established to try to keep the sand for longer, and I see that there are some attempts to encourage sand dunes as well. It will be interesting to see how successful they are.

Clearly the area is popular with wildlife. This fox looks like the one that we saw in Mount Pleasant Cemetery yesterday – are they svelter in Toronto than back in London, I wonder? I love that this one appears to be making off with a whole hot dog, although a London fox would also have snatched the bun I think.

This squirrel gave us a long hard stare, as if trying to work out whether it was worth his while to come down from the tree for a hand out. He decided we weren’t worth the bother.

It was lovely to see that swallows had arrived – they were gathering mud from nearby puddles, presumably to make their nests. This is a barn swallow, the same species that we have in the UK – apparently this is the most widespread species of swallow in the world.

Out on the water, there were two pairs of mute swans, separated by a healthy expanse of water. That didn’t stop one pair steaming at speed towards the other, however. How much space do they need, I wonder?

There were some fine Common Mergansers out on the lake as well – the females have attractive ginger crests, while the males are sleeker with green heads. These are saw-billed ducks who dive to catch small fish and invertebrates.

Female Common Merganser


There were some painted pebbles, which I’m beginning to think of as prime indicators of the pandemic.

I was very struck by the lifeboat station, which was built in 1920, at which point the beach was crowded with vendors, swimmers and all manner of goings on. A lifeguard would sit in the tower at the top, and shout if s/he saw anyone in trouble. The station started to fall into disrepair in the 1920’s, but was rescued by the local community. It’s estimated that over 6000 lives have been saved by people based at this station. There was no swimming and no lifeguards today, but no doubt there will be later in the season.

And then it was time to turn for home, past the very fine houses that line the streets and onto the main road, which has a surprisingly high proportion of independent shops. We stopped for coffee at the Remarkable Bean, which not only has very good coffee, but also highly-recommended cheese scones and rhubarb tarts. So good, in fact, that we’d eaten most of them before I thought to take a photo, but you get the idea.

And finally, here are two other residents. The cat rather reminds me of my old friend Bailey.

And how about this splendid dog (a Newfoundland I think), waiting patiently outside a coffee shop for his owner? Canada is not quite as dog-friendly as the UK has become in recent years, where dogs are allowed in a lot of cafes and restaurants, but maybe this chap would have taken up quite a lot of room anyway. He is a very fine dog, and took his unexpected stardom completely in his stride.

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