Skip the long line ups at the Toronto Island ferries and opt for a 14-person canoe ride instead! Enjoy the cityscape from afar, explore the intimate lagoons, and arrive at the island in style. It’s a fun workout and doesn’t require any previous paddling experience – although the more synchronized the paddling, the quicker you’ll get to your destination. There is a guide that accompanies your party, steering the canoe at the back, but this journey is all about relaxing and enjoying the scenery at your own pace.
My friends and I went with the company Paddle Toronto in the late summer and it was a total blast. We soaked in some gorgeous sunlight, endlessly knocked our paddles as newbies, and sat in awe of the beautiful Toronto cityscape.
And now onto the specifics. Here is the price breakdown as of Summer 2012. Prices include all equipment needed and a guide per canoe. Taxes are not included.
7-14 participants (up to 2.5 hours) = $32/person
7-14 participants (2.5 to 4.5 hours) = $37/person
7-14 participants (4.5 to 6 hours) = $45/person
15-65 participants (up to 2.5 hours) = $27/person
15-65 participants (2.5 to 4.5 hours) = $32/person
15-65 participants (4.5 to 6 hours) = $40/person
Note: a $200 deposit is required upon booking, but will be returned in full at the end of the canoe trip.
Q) How long does it take to paddle to the Toronto Island?
A) Generally it takes about 30-45 minutes to paddle.
Q) How long can I stay on the island for?
A) You can stay on the island for as long as you want, provided that it’s within the total hours specified upon booking. Just communicate with your guide on what time your party will want to return back to the canoe.
Q) What can I bring with me onto the canoe?
A) These canoes are quite large and are the type to be used to transport goods back in the day. So you’re able to bring a backpack of your stuff and any other entertainment/activities you’ll want to do on the Toronto Islands (so long as it’s not too bulky). Make sure to bring your camera to capture the sights, water bottles to stay hydrated, and a beach/bath towel to sit on more comfortably while you canoe.
Q) What do I need to wear?
A) Generally you’ll stay pretty dry, with the exception of a few drops from the paddler in front of you if they don’t know what they’re doing. So there’s no need to wear a bathing suit. Just weather appropriate clothing will work (e.g. T-shirt, shorts, running shoes or flip flops). And lots of sun screen!
Q) Will the canoe flip over?
A) It’s very difficult for the canoe to flip over. However, there were times when our guide told us to shift our weight to the very sides of the canoe and may have asked a few people to switch seats to balance out the weight distribution. Since you’re sharing the same water as other sailboats, motor boats, etc. it can be a tad scary for those who have a fear of water when the water rocks back and forth.
Q) Do I need to know how to swim?
A) No, you do not need to know how to swim. Life jackets are provided and the canoe is very unlikely to flip over.
Q) How many people do I need to have?
A) They have canoes that fit 14 people and 20 people. I believe the minimum is 7 people for a private canoe. But even if you don’t have enough in your party, call Paddle Toronto to see if they can arrange for you to join another group.
Q) What if it rains that day?
A) Paddle Toronto will contact you if there is a cancellation due to weather conditions. That’s what happened to us initially, but we were able to reschedule soon after.
CANOEING TO TORONTO ISLANDS WITH PADDLE TORONTO
Regular Price: $32-$40/person
Address: 283A Queen’s Quay West (between Spadina Ave. and York St.)
Phone: 416-203-2277 or 1-800-960-8886