Flooding on the Toronto Islands is terrible—but also weirdly beautiful

Flooding on the Toronto Islands is terrible—but also weirdly beautiful

Lake Ontario, swollen to record levels by rain and runoff, has submerged large parts of the Toronto Islands, shuttering city-run facilities and putting a temporary halt to regular ferry services. Even so, a few intrepid explorers are managing to make their way across the harbour to survey the watery wreckage. One of them is Daniel Williams, a documentary filmmaker and photographer who has been kayaking as a hobby for about a decade. On Saturday, he hopped in his boat for a solo Island tour. Here are some haunting shots he took.

Williams ran into another pair of paddlers exploring the flooded Islands. “One of them was out chasing carp,” he says. “She caught one with her bare hands.”


This is part of Far Enough Farm, the small petting zoo adjacent to the Centreville amusement park. Williams says some of the farm buildings had been blocked off with sandbags to protect them, but others were covered with what looked like a few inches of lake water:


These bleachers are used during events like Centre Island’s annual dragon boat races. “I literally pulled up right into the bleachers with my kayak,” Williams says. The area to the left of the fence is ordinarily a walkway:


According to Williams, the red buoy visible in the distance, here, is roughly where the shoreline used to be:


That’s Williams in the kayak. He brought a tripod with him, set it up in shallow water, and then put his camera on timer mode:


The marinas are somewhat equipped to cope with high water:


“When I get out there and I can see the whole skyline, it’s like all my problems exist there, in the city,” Williams says. “When I’m out on the lake, I don’t have to think about any of that.”

See more of Williams’ photos on his Instagram.