Photo by Timothy Neesam
Toronto is a fresh-water capital. Tens of thousands of people actively use Toronto’s waterfront every year. In fact, Swim Guide was first created as a tool for Torontonians asking “Is it safe to swim in Lake Ontario?” Today, Swim Guide is used by millions of people across the world. Toronto remains our home base, and the city that started it all.
Toronto is also Canada’s largest city and the capital of the province of Ontario This city is known for its beautiful lake scenery, picturesque islands, and iconic skyline featuring the C.N. Tower (which is perhaps best viewed from the water). Despite being a major urban city, Toronto has many rivers, ravines, and forests.
Toronto has Lake Ontario bordering its south side, the Oak Ridges Moraine to the north, and has more nine important rivers running through the city. Along the 46 kilometer (29 mile) waterfront, you can see people swimming, fishing, sailing, paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, kiteboarding, scuba diving, and boating.
Toronto’s waterfront is busiest during Ontario’s swimming season. Swimming season is from June 1 to Labour Day weekend in September every year. During swimming season, lifeguards monitor the City of Toronto’s 11 public beaches.
All of Toronto’s public beaches are accessible by public transit or ferry, and limited vehicle parking is available at most destinations. Public washroom facilities at Toronto’s beaches are open during swimming season.
Swimming Water Quality in Toronto
In 2018, Swim Drink Fish created the Toronto Community Monitoring Hub to collect, analyze, and share water quality data. With a team of citizen scientists, the Toronto Community Monitoring Hub provides data for three locations in Toronto Harbour: Marina Four, Rees Street Slip, and Bathurst Quay. This data is updated weekly on Swim Guide from June to October.
Swim Guide updates its water quality data for Toronto’s public beaches daily during swimming season. This data is collected by Toronto Public Health.
Water Sports and Activities in Toronto
Walk or cycle to your favourite beach along the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail. The scenic paved trail connects many of Toronto’s beaches to neighbouring cities along Lake Ontario. The trail also makes it easy to visit multiple beaches in one day.
You can also take the ferry to Toronto Island. With sandy beaches, restaurants, and incredible views, Toronto Island is a popular destination for Toronto residents and visitors. The island’s Hanlan’s Point Beach is Toronto’s only clothing-optional beach.
At the heart of the city’s waterfront is the Toronto Harbour, one of the busiest recreational spaces in North America. While Ports Toronto does not permit swimming in Toronto Harbour, thousands of sailors, paddlers, and boaters enjoy the harbour every day. Cherry Beach is a Blue Flag beach that has an off-leash dog park, and it is usually one of the cleanest beaches on mainland Toronto.
Weather in Toronto
Toronto has warm, humid summers and cold winters. Lake Ontario moderates the city’s climate, making temperatures warmer during the winter and cooler and more humid during the summer than other landbound Ontario cities. Toronto is warmest in July, with daily average maximum temperatures of 26 °C (79 °F).
With beaches, festivals, art galleries, restaurants, music venues, and more, Toronto’s waterfront is vibrant year-round.
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