Earth and Water: Ashbridges Bay Park


I’m lucky to live so close to Ashbridges Bay Park on Lake Ontario. I can get there in a matter of minutes, and sister Helen and I have spent hours walking here, peering at trees & shrubs, trying to identify what’s growing, and gathering round rocks from the beach.

The park has a mix of cultivated and wild areas, with plantings of native trees and grass, but also weeds, shrubs and wildflowers left to do their own thing. Along with formal walks, there are also small earth-trodden paths wending their way alongside the lake. The shoreline is partly edged with man-hauled massive boulders, but also small beachy coves, which are covered with lake-tossed rocks, rounded bricks and building materials, worn into eroded clusters. A treasure trove for rock gatherers, like us –these often find their way into our gardens.

The point that juts into the water, where I take my walks, is entirely man made, using fill, and provides a peaceful sandy cove on the south side, and a rocky shoreline along most of the north, plus a stellar view of Toronto’s harbour and skyline.

Since getting my puppy, I’ve had even more reason to spend time there–often in the waning hour before sunset–particularly magical as the cityscape lights turn on and reflect on the harbour, now covered in ice.

Lake Ontario is really the showcase here, and I fall in love with it more and more: how it reflects the sky and cityscape, makes a home for countless water birds: ducks, swans and others I can’t identify.

Lake Ontario occasionally thinks it’s a sea or an ocean. I never get tired of the soundtrack of the massive waves crashing on the beach on those days. I’ve read the Great Lakes described as freshwater, inland seas; and I’m very grateful to live only five minutes away from this one.

All pictures were taken over the course of about an hour as the sun dipped, sky darkened, and city lights turned on.


  1. Nice pix, sis. You must have a steady hand.

    That little bit at the bottom of Coxwell is nicknamed the Peanut for its infinity-symbol shape.

    Have you noticed any evidence of beavers there? Last time I was there, a number of trees had been felled by beavers. That's certainly true of the Spit, which you can also see. I'm not sure if the recent influx of wildlife (beavers, coyotes) in urban Toronto says good things or bad things about the state of the environment in the city.

  2. Yes, Helen, I know that there has been some beaver activity at Cherry Beach a few miles west. They are putting up wire circles around some of the trees there to stop the beavers from munching. Haven't noticed same at Ashbridges, but will keep eyes peeled.

    The peanut section, it's great when you stand there and have the water coming out from either side. Hard to photograph with my camera, maybe you could get a pic from there, Helen.

    Thanks for comments, VW, it is a serene spot, particularly when you can see the downtown core, but from a distance.

    Thanks, Amy, I've mostly just been walking, but in summer, it's a great place to sit and dream. Something so calming about being near water.

  3. Water just has the loveliest habit of capturing the mood of the sky and expanding on it.

    To have such a body of wild water in an urban setting is a great asset to Toronto. I think it is the natural environment that makes city living worthwhile.

    These are lovely photos. You have a very lucky little puppydog 🙂

  4. Beautiful photos! You are fortunate to live so close to Lake Ontario with these vistas, and your puppy is fortunate that there are great paths to explore!

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