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Toronto Island Time
Rob Ford commanded us to visit the Toronto Islands and, as it turns out, he was right about this one

The dawn after Crackgate blew open, Mayor Rob Ford tweeted the command:



Not wanting to disappoint our peerless leader, I seized on the offer to be part of a ragtag troupe whose mission was to spend the day on the Toronto Islands. A slave to punctuality, I insisted on being there 15 minutes before scheduled departure. The ferry leaves fairly often but at noon on a holiday Monday, the line-up was jarring. Mercifully, our guide had purchased tickets ahead of time, highly advisable for peak times such as this. The hundreds of parents in line looked on grimly as we minced easily onto the boat, unencumbered by offspring.

This train nearly mowed us down.

After disembarking from the Ferry, we made our way to Centreville Amusement Park. The park has been chugging along for 47 seasons, and is the only amusement park left in downtown Toronto (aside from City Hall). In addition to more than 30 rides, the park contains the only working farm in downtown Toronto other than Riverdale. It is operated by Beasley Amusements, who have pledged to pour $10 million in improvements to the site over the next three years.

Don’t you think you’ve gone far enough?

Granted, many of the rides have exclusionary height policies (we were simply too big to ride, which hurts) but soon we were led to the only ride that matters in the world, The Scrambler. Housed in an aging barn-like structure, the ride involves being slammed repeatedly against your paramour in a seizure-inducing, laser-lit maelstrom, accompanied by the deafening strains of Carly Rae Jepson.

Even Michelle Williams got Scrambled

The animals of Far Enough Farm seem to enjoy a bucolic existence far from the threat of becoming lunch. The menagerie includes Pinky, the mini pot-bellied pig (who is pregnant, both with emotion and piglets), a mother-daughter mini-horse duo, and emus, which look like the leftover animal parts randomly spliced together. According to the placard, their powerful legs can rip apart metal fences, and I eye the chain-link fence warily. Nonetheless, they all regard us dispassionately when they realize we have absolutely nothing to offer them snack-wise.

Goat on a Ledge

We then marched to the edge of the island to rent bikes. For a paltry 8 bucks, we rented a bike for an hour. We tooled around in our old-timey bikes making the pedestrians feel like suckers. Although we didn’t make it to the clothing-optional beach on Hanlan’s Point, We happened upon a few people having a quasi-nude picnic on Snake Island, a private wooded beach area. You can get overnight camping permits for Snake Island from the City if you’re into that sort of thing, which frankly, you should be.

Lousy views from the Island

Famished and thirsty from our jet-setting, we settled into the Carousel Café for some nourishing patio beers, followed by some more ingestible treats on Gibraltar Point. Every long-weekend Monday, the Island plays host to the Electric Island music series. They actually had plenty of real washrooms with exotic luxuries like soap and toilet paper. I was buoyed by this because I spend all my time at music festivals either 1) lining up to pee or 2) peeing. The event had a pretty sizeable crowd and the obvious downside was the ridiculous line-up to the ATM, so bring your own cash, Moneybags.

The Unwashed Hordes

In closing, I was pleased I heeded the Mayor’s sage advice. The Toronto Islands are a veritable oasis in the city. For less than the price of a few drinks at some douchey bar, you can have a pretty rad day. You should go.

 

____

Tiffy Thompson is a writer and illustrator for the Toronto Standard.  Follow her on Twitter at @tiffyjthompson. 

For more, follow us on Twitter at @TorontoStandard and subscribe to our newsletter. 

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