Tommy Thompson Park, Toronto

  • by
Waterfront, Tommy Thompson Park, Toronto

One of the most interesting characteristics of Tommy Thompson Park (also called Leslie Street Spit) is that the land on which it lies is completely man-made. Tons of concrete, earth fill and sand have been used to create a site that is now over 250 hectares in size and about 5 km into lake Ontario. Back in 1959 Toronto Harbour Commissioners started the construction of the Leslie Street Spit or Outer Harbour East Headland for port-related facilities. During 70s that land increased a lot to create many lagoons and sand peninsulas that now make up a significant portion of the base of Tommy Thompson Park. Later the protection barrier was constructed from the lake side to protect the headland from the inner Harbour and the Keating Channel. Also, back then is became clear that the port-related facilities will not be necessary and gradually the land evolved into complete wilderness. In the past few years we saw foxes, beavers (lots of trees are “cut” at the same level!), numerous birds and rodents…

Hawk holding the prey mouse, Tommy Thompson Park, Toronto
Hawk holding the prey mouse, Tommy Thompson Park, Toronto

In August 1973, the Province decided to create the master plan for the proposed Aquatic Park (Tommy Thompson Park) and the responsibility was given to Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. In 1977, this was expanded to include not only the preparation of a master plan, but also development and interim management — including public access, nature interpretation and wildlife management.

Biking, Tommy Thompson Park, Toronto
Biking, Tommy Thompson Park, Toronto

Public access is restricted to weekends, holidays and weekdays from 4 pm to 9 pm, due to the truck traffic. However, over 100,000 visitors enjoy the park every year. Today this is a great place to experience nature and the outdoors. It is widely considered one of the best places for bird-watching in the city. It’s also a prime destination for wildlife viewing and fishing. The park offers picturesque views of the Toronto skyline and Lake Ontario. Spring, summer and fall are the most popular seasons for recreational activities such as hiking, running, roller-blading and leisure cycling. Some will also brave the cold and explore the park in the winter months, enjoying the opportunities for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.