The Beaches is Toronto's top sandy destination for a bit of sunbathing, beach volleyball and a sunset boardwalk stroll. The area features four beaches - Balmy, Scarborough, Kew and Woodbine - which means there's plenty of room to find a secluded spot. The water along the beaches is regularly blue flag certified and safe to swim and play in, and there are many quaint places to eat and shop, adding to the cottage-country-like atmosphere even in the heart of Toronto.
The History of The Beaches
The area of the beaches was originally settled in 1793 by the Ashbridges family who travelled to Canada from Philadelphia. Ashbridges Bay Park, adjacent to Woodbine Beach, is named after the family. The Ashbridges farmed the district until the latter half of the 1800s when the beachside properties were subdivided, with large amounts of land set aside for local parks.
The bay itself was used for ice collection around the 1900s, until the area became so polluted that it became unsafe - nowadays the area has turned around and is now one of the most consistently safe lakeshores in Ontario. Around this time there were a number of amusement parks in the area, whose names now live on in the form of streets, such as Victoria Park, and Munro Park.
By the time the 1920s came around, Toronto was expanding rapidly eastward, and the area was soon cleared for residential development. The area of Woodbine was not always an open beach; it started out as an area known as “The Cut.” It was a dark, heavily forested area where the only regular traffic was teenagers hanging out with friends. The area progressed into a cottage community, quite similar to the type of homes still on the Toronto Islands. The more widely attended public areas, their facilities, and boardwalk were officially opened to the public in 1932.
The area is now a particularly affluent neighbourhood, boasting a population of mostly semi-detached homes and a community concerned with maintaining the cozy, cottage-like atmosphere that gave the area its charm years ago.