Canoeing in Toronto: My Paddling Adventure in the Toronto Harbor Islands

Before visiting the city, I had no idea that it was possible to go canoeing in Toronto! Yes, an island paddling adventure is possible within the city.

So there I was, slowly drifting away from the mainland, with the CN Tower and the rest of the skyline growing smaller in the distance.

toronto paddle islands

Up ahead were the Toronto Harbor Islands, a chain of islands across the harbor from the city. It took less than an hour to go from the heart of the city to what felt like an entirely different world over in the islands.

The waters were calm and provided a sense of peace and connection with nature.

Canoeing in Toronto gets you up close with the wildlife. This is a mute swan.

Wildlife in the Toronto Island area includes Great Blue Herons, Painted Turtles, Swans, Belted Kingfishers, Beavers, Minks, Muskrats, Great Egrets, Raccoons, Black-Crowned Night Herons, and Double-Crested Cormorants.

To distinguish between the different types of swans: Mute Swans have orange beaks, while Trumpeter Swans have black beaks. Trumpeter Swans are native to Canada, while the Mute Swans were introduced from England.

Canoeing in Toronto: My Tour Details

My tour was part of a group canoeing excursion with Paddle Toronto. Check out their website – they organize group kayak and canoe tours.

In our case, they gathered us together, provided some basic instruction and introduction to the islands (and life jackets), and then we set off together on the journey.

lifejackets - canoeing in toronto

The best thing about canoeing in Toronto is that by paddling to the islands, you can explore crevices along the shores that you could never otherwise get to.

canoeing in toronto - harbor islands shore

Canoeing in Toronto has another benefit: The great photos! With the CN Tower and several recognizable buildings, Toronto has a very cool skyline. Some of the best pics you can take of the skyline are via the water.

How a Toronto Kayaking Tour Works

Paddle Toronto rents canoes, kayaks, and standup paddleboards, so guests have several options. If you choose to go with a kayak or canoe tour, you’ll meet up with your group.


You will be given everything you need, including a lifejacket and paddle. Be sure to have some sunscreen, and water and a camera if you desire!


Paddle Toronto also offers lessons. So if you’re not comfortable heading out across the water on your own, go for the lesson instead to keep things simple! They have beginner and intermediate lessons for canoeing and standup paddleboarding.

As of this writing, kayak rentals cost $50 CAD for a single kayak for two hours, or $70 for four hours. For a tandem kayak for two people, you’re looking at $70 for two hours or $90 for four hours.

Prefer canoes? A canoe (suitable for two or three people) costs $75 for a two-hour rental, or $95 for four hours.

Paddle Toronto opens at noon on weekdays and 10 am on weekends.

Canoeing and kayaking in Toronto are very cool. Here’s a link explaining the history of Toronto Island, how it formed geologically, and the history of development and business on the island.

And here’s a good explanation about the different islands. Toronto is very lucky to have such a great nature area so close to its downtown. Not many big cities have that!

For more Toronto fun, see the Bata Shoe Museum, the Church & Wellesley LGBTQ neighborhood, and the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Note: If you’re looking for more fun activities in the area, London, Canada is a two-hour drive west of Toronto. Check out our list of things to do in London, Ontario!

Have you ever done any paddling before?

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