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Our Favourite Things to Do on the Waterfront in Fall and Winter

Nov 24, 2014

The striking view and wide range of parks and public spaces continues to draw people to the waterfront throughout the fall and winter seasons. (Photo credit: Jack Landau)

The striking view and wide range of parks and public spaces continues to draw people to the waterfront throughout the fall and winter seasons. (Photo credit: Waterfront Toronto/Jack Landau)  

By Meghan Hogan

Now that the first snow has fallen in the city, we’re gearing up for another exciting winter on the waterfront. The water’s edge truly has something to offer everyone all year round – whether you’re looking for a fun family activity or simply long for a relaxing stroll surrounded by the beautiful landscape. Colder months grant us the opportunity for new experiences and a deeper appreciation for familiar places along the waterfront that we’ve come to love throughout the warmer months. But remember: winter doesn’t officially begin for one more month, so be sure to head down to the water and catch a final glimpse of autumn before it’s gone.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s a look at some of our favourite things to see and do along the waterfront this fall and winter... 


Underpass Park at night

For all those who appreciate art and architecture in the city, the waterfront has plenty of public sculptures and visually stunning public spaces. From Toronto’s Music Garden and the Sundial Folly at Harbour Square Park to Mirage at Underpass Park, these art installations are sure to capture your imagination.


Ireland Park in TorontoPortland Slip in the fall

Along the Portland Slip at the south east corner of Eireann Quay is Ireland Park, a beloved park tucked behind the Canadian Malting Silos that reopened earlier this year. The park commemorates the 38,000 Irish immigrants who fled to Toronto during the Famine of 1847. Five haunting bronze sculptures – created by renowned Irish sculptor Rowan Gillespie – depict the arrival in Toronto and memorialize the link between Ireland and Canada in a powerful way. Don’t forget to check out the limestone sculptural installation before walking along the newly opened stretch of the water’s edge promenade, behind the park. Head back to Queens Quay, where you are sure to catch a sweeping view of the city.


If you find yourself in the east end of the city, stop by Corktown Common to revel at No Shoes, a sculptural installation created by internationally renowned sculptor Mark di Suvero. Comprised of long red steel beams and wooden logs, this significant modernist piece received a complete restoration supervised by the artist before being relocated to its new home in the West Don Lands.

American artist Mark di Suvero's sculpture, No Shoes, restored and installed at Corktown CCommon

Playground at Corktown CommonCorktown Common's marsh in fall colours

For active families and nature enthusiasts, Corktown Common is an oasis in the city. The creative play structures located around the pavilion will delight children and the stunning view of the city skyline in the distance will not disappoint adults. The park – which was recently recognized by Popular Science in the 2014 Best of What’s New – includes a lush marsh and extensive trails that visitors can wander as they enjoy the crisp, fresh fall air. And the large toboggan hill is sure to provide park-goers hours of fun once the snow is here to stay. 


Fall colours at Sherbourne CommonSkating at Sherbourne Common

Sherbourne Common in East Bayfront is another popular park for families to visit this season for a number of reasons. Not only are the views of Lake Ontario great, but there’s no lack of fall foliage on the parks 182 trees either. Head to the parks north end for some fun on the playground or lace up your skates and take advantage of the park’s 920-square-metre skating rink, which officially opens for the season on November 29 and remains open until February 22, 2015. For more winter fun, visit the Natrel Rink at Harbourfront Centre for some free public skating with scenic views of Lake Ontario and the city.  


Late afternoon in the fall on Queens QuayRelaxing on the WaveDeck

For a more urban waterfront experience with lots of cultural programming, explore the water’s edge promenade and Queens Quay – whose revitalization is well underway with several stretches along the street now open. With Queens Quay open for business during construction, it is the perfect place to grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with a friend on a sunny afternoon. There are plenty of areas along the water’s edge promenade to sit back, relax and take some scenic photographs or watch boats go by on the harbour. For families, Harbourfront Centre, the Museum of Inuit Art, Pawsway and others offer plenty of indoor winter programming or join the Waterfront BIA for their annual Winterfest featuring a Santa Cruise.


Walking past the playground at Sherbourne CommonCanada's Sugar Beach in the winter

The waterfront is a place for your entire family – including the canine members. Stop at one of the many parks and open spaces where there are plenty of leaves for man’s best friend to jump through and as the weather gets colder, fresh white snow to pounce on. Wander along the water’s edge promenade to escape from the hum of the busy city and rest at iconic waterfront destinations like Canada’s Sugar Beach, whose cotton-candy pink umbrellas provide a delightful splash of colour against a blanket of white snow. Stop by George Brown College’s waterfront campus for a hot drink to keep you warm along the way. 


Streetcars on Queens Quay

If you’d rather avoid the cold and arrive at your destination quickly, just hop on the 509 or 510 streetcar along Queens Quay. The newly rebuilt line is a major milestone in waterfront revitalization and is helping reconnect residents and visitors to popular waterfront locations.
Toronto’s waterfront is one of the city’s greatest resources and its beauty can be appreciated year-round. So whether you decide to walk, cycle or take public transit, be sure to bundle up and visit the water’s edge this fall and winter to experience its diverse and engaging public spaces.



post contributor

  • Meghan Hogan

    Meghan Hogan was previously a communications and public engagement manager at Waterfront Toronto.