It’s one of those nature-in-the-city moments when you feel like you’ve left the city if not for the odd view of a high rise or the CN Tower poking out in the distance.
Our latest escape from the city was on the Humber River, the main branch that flows 126 km from the Niagara Escarpment and winds its way through Toronto spilling into Lake Ontario.
The watershed is the largest in the city and home to migratory birds, monarchs, ducks, turtles and more than 60 species of fish (including the salmon who make its run up the Humber in the fall.) Along its shores, you’ll find walking and biking paths and a series of amazing green spaces, but it’s travelling on the river itself that has always intrigued me. So on a summer afternoon, I headed down the Humber on kayak, joining some of my fellow Torontonians who took to the waterway on boat, canoe, kayak and SUP.
It’s beautiful. Our adventure started near Old Mill Rd (near Bloor St. West) northwest of High Park. Heading north from there gets a bit dangerous and you run into weirs that make it inaccessible for paddlers. Heading south however, you have a free flow of river with a number of marshes to explore as you make your way to Lake Ontario.
Even though it was slightly windy, it took us about two hours to paddle from Bloor Street to Lake Ontario (near the Humber Bay Bridge) and back. Along the way we spotted white egrets, mallard ducks, cormorants and a heron, had a view into the backyards of the lucky few whose property backs onto the Humber and said hello to a few fisherman along the shores.
We rented our vessels from Toronto Adventures. But if you BYOB (bring your own boat), there are other areas to dock along the way.
Getting there: If you need to rent, Toronto Adventures is located at Old Mill Rd. There is free parking on-site or a short walk north at Etienne Brulé Park. It’s a short walk from Old Mill Subway Station.
Low-down: You can rent a kayak (single or double), small or large canoe or SUP. You can book online (to secure your spot) or just show up and hope for a boat. The rentals include paddles and life jackets. There are no lockers or waterproof containers. Kids in TOw are welcome and we saw a number of families in canoes, or in a double-kayak. They generally allow kids 12 and older (depending on their ability and size) to have their own rental. Rental pricing is here. Map below.
Picnicking:If you’re on your own boat and schedule, you could probably pull over along the way.
Potty time: There is a porta-potty near the Toronto Adventures tent.