Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 10: The Toronto Islands finish fine

All eyes were on Toronto last week as the first season of The Amazing Race Canada wrapped up.
Toronto from Harbour Islands (6264452871)
Toronto skyline, viewed from Toronto Islands
The race finished on the Toronto Islands, a small chain of islands in the western part of Lake Ontario, just offshore from the city. Even if you aren't familiar with the islands, you are probably familiar with the Toronto skyline, the shots of which are taken from various spots on the islands.

OSM-Toronto Islands with labels
The Amazing Race Canada concluded on Olympic Island (click map to enlarge)
As the action at the finish line has been well covered, we'll focus on where it all took place, with a visit to the Toronto Islands. While often referred to collectively, the final leg of The Amazing Race Canada actually took place on Olympic Island.

Popular with both Toronto residents and tourists, there is plenty to attract visitors to the oasis of calm on the Toronto Islands.

Toronto Islands view

With no fixed road link from the mainland, the islands rely on ferries, water taxis and other boats for their transport needs. Cyclists are welcomed on the ferries, or you can rent a bike on the islands. You can also rent canoes - boating is popular. It's a friendly and relaxed place to get away.

Please walk on the grass

There are wonderful parks, numerous beaches and all manner of things to keep kids entertained, including a miniature railroad. There's plenty to keep adults occupied too.

Signs in Toronto the Good 2010 (1)

In addition to being a popular recreational destination, the Toronto Islands are home to a small residential community. The Toronto Islands actually comprise the largest urban car-free community in North America (though some service vehicles are permitted).

Toronto islands house 2009
House on Ward's Island
The islands are also home to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ). Although the teams didn't use the airport, we think it's close enough to warrant a little coverage! Also referred to as Toronto Islands Airport, YTZ the smallest of the city's two main airports - we've covered Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in previous posts.

Toronto harbour
Toronto Harbour, Toronto Islands and the airport, taken from the CN Tower
There is no public access between the airport and the rest of the island chain. A separate dedicated ferry provides a vehicle and passenger connection from a dock at the foot of Bathurst Street. You can read about how the YTZ airport ferry connection works here.

In 2014, the western end of the island will become accessible to pedestrians with the opening of the Toronto Islands Airport Pedestrian Tunnel. The 800 ft. pedestrian tunnel will have moving sidewalks and elevators at both ends. On the island side, an escalator will also be constructed. The tunnel is already 50% complete.

Porter Airlines.Dash-8.YTZ.2008
Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 landing at YTZ
It's safe to say that The Amazing Race Canada was a smashing success. Canadians from coast to coast tuned into Canada's version of the iconic race, in record numbers. Enthusiasm for the locations visited, disappointment about cities left out and support for the teams themselves brought Canadians together in collective pride.

How exciting it is that a second season has been ordered... we wonder where they will go? We'll be tuned in, as we're sure you will be too.

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