Thrive Wild
Swim & Canoe Toronto

"Houses are prostheses, substitutes for developing the skill to thrive in nature; a healthy ecosystem is a hospitable home."  

Let's develop skills & techniques to launch an "Outdoor B&B".  

Inspired Economies knows anarcho-communism is the natural offspring of deep ecology.  Therefore we wish to make wilderness accessible to urbanites.  

        Bringing Wilderness to Toronto
        Alternatives to Algonquin
        Toronto Islands
        Group Wilderness Expedition Planning
        Wilderness Safety
        Non-Wilderness Ecological Experiences

Bringing Wilderness to Toronto:

Seeking wilderness areas or campgrounds around Toronto, most are accessible only by car, and are intended primarily for people to have a day or two vacation, still using the same old urban technologies (canned food or hot dogs or store-bought fresh food).  No wilderness areas in or around Toronto are good for swimming or fishing or permaculture food harvesting, and none are accessible by bike/horseback/canoe/hiking. 
Wilderness is the ultimate and only amenity.

Target Organizations / Potential Collaborators:
    Toronto Region Conservation Authority
    Toronto Parks and Recreation
    Toronto Bay Initiative
    Waterfront Regeneration Trust
    Task Force to Bring Back the Don
    Toronto Port Authority
    NTGC - Daylighting Lost Rivers
    Greenest City

Alternatives to Algonquin

I can't get enough of Algonquin and Killarney, but I want to experience wilderness and live ecologically right here in Toronto.

Glen Rouge Campground
I camped here overnight Sept 1st - Sept 2nd 2003 before canoeing down the Rouge River with my friend Louise.  The grass is mown, and the RV section takes up most of the campground, but you can almost get a wilderness experience in the unserviced sites, if you set up your tent and other obstructions to gain privacy.  We canoed down the lower Rouge River, starting under the bridge, going past the ruins, the walls of vines, the herons, under the horizontal tree (limbo style), through the reed road (6' tall waving grasslands on either side of our 10' wide river pathway (no, not claustrophobic)), into the pond with a million waterlilies, and past the otter and into Lake Ontario.
Metro Zoo
over 4000 animals at this extraordinary 700-acre (285 hectare) zoological park. Pavilions representing each continent of the world. Meadowvale Road north of Hwy. #401. (416) 392-5900.  Price is ?too much? $17 per person, or so.

Indian Line Campground
Finch & 427 (Brampton)
"At Indian Line you can swim, fish, canoe or hike" - but it seems horribly RV-oriented - not wilderness. 

Heart Lake Conservation Area
takes its name its spring-fed kettle lake. The lake is the focus of many activities, including swimming, fishing and canoeing. The dense forest surrounding the lake makes you feel like you're hours from the city, even though you're only minutes away.



We strongly recommend going with a guide, at least the first time on each river if you're skilled, and the first several times on each river if you are a beginner.
Most of the information below comes from the website for Toronto Canoeing & Kayaking Adventures; it is organized here to be more user-friendly for our purposes.

Humber River

Start just below the Old Mill TTC Subway Station just west of Jane St..
Canoe or kayak down Toronto's own Canadian Heritage River, the Humber River. This is a two hour river adventure that exhibits surprising natural beauty and an abundance of wild-life difficult to imagine within a city of five million. We meander through marsh, flood plain and canopied forest. We have observed deer, fox, beaver, hawks, salmon, lake trout, turtles, blue heron, night heron, white egrets, swans, canadian geese, cormorants, many types of ducks, etc. 

Don River

The Don River contains hazards like submerged discarded sidewalks, so should only be canoed/kayaked during the annual "Paddle the Don" event when the Conservation Authority opens up the dam to raise the water level.  Even then, do not use expensive/fragile boats.  
Each year the Don River Conservation Authority sponsors it's annual "Paddle the Don" event in May.  During the "Paddle the Don" event Toronto Adventures rents out canoes & kayaks.  The Don River whitewater paddle is a real hoot during this one day. Book early; advanced bookings required. 
We paddle from Serena Gundy Park (Leslie and Eglinton) to the Keating Channel at Lake Ontario.
To Register and get your starting time please call the Don River Conservation Authority at (416) 661-6600, ext. 5397 For further information please call them at (416) 661-6600, ext. 5283.

Credit River

Toronto Canoeing & Kayaking Adventures mainly uses the Credit River for whitewater experiences. 
Entry Level:
Starting where the Credit River passes under Dundas Street W., we paddle down the river, over many swifts and level one rapids down to the mouth of the river at Port Credit. This trip takes about two hours. 
Entry/Intermediate Level:
Starting where the Credit River passes under Eglinton Ave. W., we paddle down the river, over many swifts, level one and sometimes, level two rapids down to where the Credit reaches Dundas Street W.. This trip takes about 1.5 hours. 

Rouge River

The Rouge River is a lovely paddle from the Rouge Camp Site at Old Kingston Road down through forest marsh and wilderness, past many types of birds such as the blue heron, etc down to the mouth of the Rouge River at Rouge Beach. 
Glen Rouge Campground


Toronto Canoeing & Kayaking Adventures:
$35 per person or $100 per month for unlimited Tues. & Thurs. evening paddles, or a one-day- group- of- ten $225 with each additional person $25.  Please check their website for updates.


Beaches Water Quality Online -
                                 Hotline - starting each June - 416-392-7161
(Pool Hours - 416-338-POOL (7665))

Are there Water Quality Reports for Swimming or Fishing in Rivers?

"WARNING: Polluted Waters. Swim at Your Own Risk. Medical Officer of Health, City of Toronto."  The city posts beaches when e-coli levels -- found in animal and human waste -- exceed acceptable provincial limits.


"I definitely wouldn't swim in the Western beaches because it's always posted. Among other water quality problems, the breakwater prevents the bountiful birdshit from washing out of the area.  Plus there's all kinds of sediment and runoff coming down the Humber, from industry and agricultural land."  City of Toronto health inspector Deborah Cornacchia, 1997


The Eastern beaches fared much better; in 1996 for example, Balmy Beach (the easternmost) was posted just eight days; Beaches Park, Kew and Woodbine beaches were each posted just four days.


We drift up to the edge of the Centre Island beach. The water's glassy calm and azure blue, sparkling clear as the Caribbean. 30 kids splash around near the shore. Brian dips the bottle in the lake and I can see it as clear as the air. (At the Humber, once the bottle is below the surface it vanishes.)

The island beaches are not so clean. From 1991-96, Centre Island beach has been posted about half the time; Ward's Island and Hanlan's Point have been posted about one day in four. Cherry Beach, though not so sweet to look at, is one of Toronto's cleanest, posted only one day in 10 since 1991.

On Saturday, Deborah plans to bring her kids -- Alexandra, 3, and Gabriel, 1 -- for a swim at Centre Island beach. "Knowing how the samples have come back, they always end up pretty good over here," she says. "I have no hesitation about bringing my children to swim here."

Toronto Islands

History -
Map - Entire Island
Photographs - Toronto_Islands - Contact Dance Jam, nature and architecture
Ferry Schedule -
(Check that you are looking at the right Season)

Summer (2003) From Toronto From Island
Centre Island 8 11:45
Hanlan's Point 9 11:15
Ward's Island 6:35 11:30


Group Wilderness Expedition Planning

        Meal Plan
        Team Co-ordination Software
        Activities & Courses & Learning Objectives

Wilderness Safety - click title to go to page

Non-Wilderness Ecological Experiences

RIVERDALE FARM Operational turn-of-the-century farm is home to cows, sheep, pigs, chickens and more. 9 am-6 pm daily. Free. 201 Winchester (Gerrard and Sumach). 416-392-6794.

EDWARDS GARDENS Acres of gardens, paths and creeks, dawn to dusk. Guided tours Jul and Aug with a master gardener Tue and Thur, departing Civic Garden Centre at 11 am. Free. Lawrence E and Leslie. 416-397-1340.

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