Toronto Island Summers

Growing Up in the 1950s and 1960s

by Jim Sanderson

A touching and nostalgic look back on a Toronto childhood in an idyllic city neighbourhood

At this distance in time, the world of young people growing up in the fifties and sixties seems impossibly idyllic. Boys and girls roamed free, baseball and bicycles were the top summer activities, and no one worried about whether occasional hot dogs and french fries were healthy.

Of all the places to spend a summer at a cottage, camp or lake, nowhere was as exotic as Toronto Island. Only a short ferry ride from the downtown, it was a world apart. Several hundred Toronto families had their summer vacation homes on the island. But the place also boasted a kind of midway, a beach that attracted exotic daytime visitors from the city, yacht clubs and fishermen.

In this memoir, lifelong Torontonian Jim Sanderson takes readers back to the idyllic summers he spent at his family's cottage on the island in the 1950s and 1960s. For Jim and the other island kids, the woods, beaches and lagoons of the island were their playground. They camped in the woods, defended their beaches from the visiting "city slickers" and fished for the elusive, mythical Golden Carp in the lagoons.

Jim Sanderson's experiences will echo those of any other Canadian who grew up in the same era, but with the special perspective of a young person on Toronto Island in the 1950s and 1960s, and on the nuances of the city's awkward relationship with the great recreational resource that the Toronto Island represents.

With informal snapshot photos from Island residents of the period that illustrate the exquisite pleasures of island life, Toronto Island Summers takes readers back to a simpler time when nature, family and friendship reigned supreme.

About the Author

JIM SANDERSON has lived in Toronto all his life and maintains a strong interest in the history and development of the city. His family summer home was located at 94 Lakeshore Avenue on Toronto Island, not far from the Ward's Island Ferry dock, where the family vacationed from 1919 until their house was demolished in 1968.

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