Toronto is a city with a lot of history, but you may not know that the Toronto Islands have a fascinating backstory of their own that dates back centuries.
The islands we visit today weren’t islands at all back in the day, but long sand bars that stretched along the waterfront that eroded over time due to severe storms, according to the City of Toronto.
In the late 1800s, the islands evolved into a summer destination for Toronto’s wealthy families, who built beautiful Victorian summer homes along Lake Shore Avenue to Ward’s Island. Later, Hanlan’s Point became home to attractions like a baseball stadium and a theme park, as well as a popular resort.
The baseball park, called Hanlan’s Point Stadium, accommodated 10,000 spectators. In its heydey, which was over 100 years ago, rising baseball star George Herman Ruth (a.k.a. Babe Ruth) hit his first professional home run while playing for the Providence Greys, according to the Toronto Public Library.
The date was September 5th, 1914 and at the time, Babe Ruth wasn’t even old enough to vote. His young age was part of the reason why he got his nickname. Ruth would go on to become one of the greatest pro baseball players of all time — and to think, he marked his first career milestone at our very own Hanlan’s Point.
Although the islands are no longer the resort destination that they once were, they’re still a popular day trip spot enjoyed by locals and visitors in the warmer months. And once in a blue moon, a home on the island will go up for sale for a fraction of what you’d pay on the mainland.