Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Toronto Harbour Islands (and their cargobikes!)

Toronto has a little archipelago of sand bar islands just offshore from the center of the business district, with residential neighborhoods, a popular summer amusement park, lakeside beaches, and the (apparently not very popular among the islanders) Toronto City Airport. Ferries connect Ward's Island to the mainland year round and others during the summer season.  

Here's a view of the ferries and a photo of Toronto as seen from Ward's Island.

Could this be a nice place for your boat?

The ferry might be the best part...

...but it isn't!  There are cargo bikes all over the island!

From what we heard, there is a bike welder on the island who makes these wonderful creations out of old bits and pieces, shopping carts, and lots of creative design sense. 
Cars are used there for deliveries and utility repairs but generally the residents use bikes to carry everything to and from the center of the city. Bike paths go everywhere and there's no car traffic to avoid.

Necessity is the mother of invention!

If your bike bell just doesn't attract enough attention, why not just replace it with one from a tram? 

We think this might be the bike builder's lair.

We'd love to know what it's like to live on these islands. It looks so idyllic now in the off season, but when the summer comes and the amusement park fills with the rest of Toronto's population, is it like living on Navy Pier in Chicago? 

If you live on the islands, know about these bikes, or have any other suggestions, please pop a comment below!


  1. The cargo bikes are made by Manuel Cappel .
    THe islands are just as lovely in the summer; most of the crowds stay at Centre Island and Hanlan's Point, not in the residential areas. The community is very vibrant.
    There is a new tree tour on the island:
    Great place to visit, by bike or on foot.

  2. I grew up in Rogers Park, about a five minute walk from the beach, and now I live on Toronto Island, about a 5 minute walk from the beach. Amazing place. Find out more about it at our community website:

  3. I like the wheel chair one, my nephews father is recently been disabled. I will show him it. My dad who is a welder fabricator by trade wanted to build something like this.

  4. If you are serious about a cart design, you should really see all the island cart designs here! There are many more than shown. Most done by Manuel, but some other cart makers and one-off's by individual islanders that might interest you.

    great article!

  5. Thank you so much for all the terrific comments. The links are great! We are excited to discover Manuel is the builder.
    It seems that a car free island is the perfect place to try out every kind of cargo idea. The link to the community site- above at torontoisland- is so nice and full of info we were curious about.
    We can't recommend the ferry trip highly enough. It was beautiful on a blustery spring morning with a little bit of shivery wind. I think the only thin we would have brought was a thermos of hot drinks. It's nice to know that the peaceful feeling is still there as the air gets warmer. The boys loved the ride through the houses and I wished we had more time along the run by the southern edge of the island as well.

  6. I heard something about Manuel having retired from bike building...


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