The Globe’s Marcus Gee reminds Toronto about that big body of water just to the south
As we mentioned last week during hotpocalypse, the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee spent Thursday touring Toronto’s beaches and (gasp!) swimming in them, too—something the city has had not had much luck encouraging. This reticence, Gee points out, means that Torontonians have some pretty odd ideas about enjoyable ways to spend a summer day.
On Friday, Toronto highways were packed with people fighting their way through traffic to plunge into a lake. Which is odd, because we live by one. Maybe you’ve heard of it: Lake Ontario.
Even though hundreds of thousands live within easy striking distance of this magnificent body of water, most would not dream of taking a dip in it. Far too polluted, they think. Not really fit for bathing.
This is one of the city’s most enduring myths. In truth, Toronto beaches offer beautiful swimming in clean, clear water. To prove it, I set out to swim all eight central Toronto beaches in a single day, moving from west to east along the lakefront.
Actually, we’re not sure that pollution plays as big a role in people’s aversion to Toronto’s beaches as Gee might think (although the commenters on the Globe’s article do bring it up, in a “we prefer our preconceptions to Gee’s evidence” kind of way). Gee hints at another factor that’s keeping Torontonians away from the best beaches in the city in another part of his column, where he describes Woodbine as by far the busiest beach he saw on his day trip. While parking is a joke in the Beach, Woodbine Beach is easily accessible from the Queen streetcar’s eastern end. The beaches on the Island, on the other hand, require ferry fares, and further west, the forbidding Gardiner cuts off comfortable pedestrian and cyclist access to the lakeshore.
So while we’re sure that Toronto’s industrial past skeeves out its post-industrial residents, it might also help if more of our beaches were easily accessible without cars. Just a thought.