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Toronto Islands

The Toronto Islands provide a shallow natural harbour for the city of Toronto. A busy inland transhipment port trade was facilitated by the locks on the Saint Lawrence Seaway at Montreal. This advantage went into decline with extensive railway links and an export development plan over several changes in Parliament.

The islands were a peninsula extending from the mainland until a fierce storm in 1858 washed away a noticeable portion of the connecting landmass. The largest, outermost island, commonly called Centre Island, is crescent-shaped and forms the shoreline of both the Eastern and Western Channels. Algonquin and Olympia are two of the other major islands. Ward's Island is actually the eastern end of Centre Island.

Geologically, the islands are composed of alluvial deposits from the erosion of the Scarbourough bluffs.

The human use of the islands has changed over the years. Industrial envelopment and landfill brought the shoreline approximately 900 feet in to the harbour from the natural shoreline of Front Street. Presently (2003) a small residential community is located on Algonquin and Ward's Islands. The central area hosts an amusement park, two yacht Clubs, and swimming beaches, including a nude beach, picnic grounds, and a boardwalk. The island also contains a rental artist studio and housing, a dragonboat regatta grandstand, and a water filtration plant.

Toronto Island Airport[?] (YTZ) is reached by a ferry to the foot of Bathurst Street. It serves recreational aviation, regional business flights, and flight schools. Access from the airport to the rest of the park is restricted. Private cars are not permitted on any of the Islands. Service vehicles and some delivery vehicles are permited. Recreational bicyclists are accommodated by ferry to all Islands. The Marine Units of the Toronto Fire and Police Departments patrol the waters.

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