Ward Island Gardens, Toronto – Garden Bloggers’ Fling 2015


I just love little vintage style cottages, especially… those of  charming proportions along the water.

A few years ago I was in Maine on Cliff Island and the cheerful, welcoming cottages just called out to me in every way. Tired of seeing charm-free McMansions and living large, many turn to the homey, adorable qualities of the small cottages that say comfort and leisure. Small homes where the living and playing is outdoors and work is mere tidying up rather than being a slave to the home and skyrocket pricing. Simplicity has its charm. Much of the charm is in the character and detailing.

Ward and Algonquin Island Cottage Homes

Click through all the images, there are some very cute cottages with wonderful gardens.

And the gardens?

Cottages usually have more enchanting and beautiful gardens surrounding them. More on them coming up…


Country or seaside?

Being along the water opens so many fun activities all summer long. I think what most amazed me about Ward and Cliff Islands was that some residents lived there year round. Toronto, like Maine, gets very harsh, cold winters. I can just imagine the ferries weaving through patches of floating ice. Or not making it and islanders missing a day of mainland travel. No cars are on Ward Island. Imagine all summer in a car-free community where everyone knows everyone. I bet it is magical in winter though just like I show you here from Niagara Falls, but the little cottages must shake when the winter winds blow.

Ward and Algonquin Island Cottage Homes

Living in a tourist town, I love the quiet of the winters as much as the busy summers.  I wonder if tourists on Ward Island look at it as a big amusement park, and not a place to live? I think people there don’t take things for granted like most since shopping really takes planning. After all, an island that has no cars and where severe weather cuts the residents off from the city, really takes a special individual to make an island a year round home.

Ward and Algonquin Island Cottage Homes

Residents of Toronto Islands are required to reside in their homes for at least 220 days of the year and designate them as principal residences. I read if you want to live there, you get on a capped list of 500 people waiting. Problem is you just might die before ever getting the call to purchase. People just don’t sell. It might be best to marry a homeowner if you really want to live there.

I just loved visiting the islands and they are best with people living on them. Up until 1858, Toronto Islands was a peninsula before a storm caused the peninsula to come apart. I wonder how and when residents started to populate the islands?

Summer living is surely the best time to be an islander. One really has to be there for the place to stay all year. Coming up, the gardens, island cottage details and a talk about the ambiance. But first, how we got to the islands next!

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
This entry was posted in garden, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

34 Responses to Ward Island Gardens, Toronto – Garden Bloggers’ Fling 2015

  1. A.M.B. says:

    Yes, simplicity has its charm! These cottages are lovely.

  2. They were quaint, weren’t they? Many of them reminded me of Door County, but without the cars.

    • I love quaint now. I used to think it a derogatory term since one of my husband’s relatives referred to our house as quaint, but I guess I had to consider the source. Plus in realtor language, it means fixer upper.

  3. swo8 says:

    Hi Donna, You were up in our neck of the woods. It’s very pretty there on the island.

  4. Lovely. And while they’re not Mcmansions, they’re not tiny, either. Pretty gardens– even this early in the season.

  5. Loretta says:

    Very nice, and such quaint, eclectic cottages. When we lived in Toronto, we’d love to take the ferry over to the islands, and Wards Island always appealed to us more than the others. Great shots!

    • Thank you Loretta. I have to get back there. All these years and I missed the islands until the Fling. I knew about them from folks living here, but never was told about the beauty of the cottages and gardens. Most people in our area go for the water sports and beaches.

  6. Laurin Lindsey says:

    I loved these little cottages….and all the people we met that lived on the islands were so friendly! The pictures of Niagara in winter are amazing!!!

  7. The Belmont Rooster says:


  8. I enjoyed touring the island again through your lens. The charm on this island was incredible. It reminded me a lot of The Netherlands from the lifestyle to the small gardens.

  9. You capture those islands really well with these photos. The cottages and gardens made me fantasize about moving in, and I loved walking along the boardwalk and seeing the small beaches. I was so impressed by how the people who opened their gardens to us were so friendly and talkative. The other remarkable thing was how the islands were just a few minutes from downtown Toronto, though they look like they should be tucked away in a remote spot on the coast.

  10. Jennifer says:

    You did a nice job of capturing the charm of these island homes and gardens. It was nice meeting you at the Fling. I was sorry we didn’t get a chance to chat more.

  11. Donna,
    It’s like reliving it all again through your great photos. Such a magical place. I knew someone who rented once, but never anyone who owned – for years the residents were considered illegal squatters, building what they wanted where they wanted – and it was only 15 years ago or so that the city worked out the land-lease deal (and the primary residence clause). Many of the houses are quite a bit grander than they used to be – although there are certainly enough of the others so you can see what the whole island must have looked like. Those frozen Niagara shots are great – must take a view from your side next time we’re down.

  12. When I was in Toronto in the mid-80s I took,the ferry out to these islands and walked around. The cottages were very cute, definitely more fixed up then Cliff. It was fun to read your references to Cliff Island and think I will be there soon. Defintiely a life dominated by weather and tide rather than malls and air conditioning.

    • In 31 ones years, I never took that ferry. Funny how you can live in a place and not see that which is around you. I did love my visit to your place. It was one of my favorite places I visited.

  13. What beautiful cottages! I loved all the gardens and the views must be gorgeous. I was wondering if these are private islands or if anyone can visit anytime?

    • As Barbara mentioned above, the city owns and the people lease. It is open to the public and while we were there, I passed a number of tourists. Quite a few have that choice view. I could live there it was so nice. We just need a few islands to pop up on our side of Lake Ontario! Who can get there first will have it made. The river has islands too as you know and I lived on Grand Island when I first moved here. GI is so big though and easily accessible by the bridges of the I190.

      • Thanks for the information, Donna.I would love to visit there sometime. The Thousand Islands (near us) have small islands but most of them are individually owned, and there are large islands, too, owned by many or public. Those cottages would be on the St. Lawrence River and not Lake Ontario though. The photos you shared are just so quaint and laid back. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  14. Alisha says:

    splendid cottages and stunning photos…your posts are always very much informative…Thank you so much Donna for a delightful post..

  15. Such delightful cottages – each one so unique. They have such character! Love that cottage birdhouse, too, of course. Funny, I was just thinking how I live in a Tourist destination, too, but I love the quiet summers 😀

  16. Donna wow these are fabulous cottages…I love them too and the beautiful gardens that seem to go along with cottages…I would have loved to have seen these in person!

Comments are closed.