Updated: May 3
(COVID Update as of May 1, 2021: Read parking info at the end of the article, after the map.)
From my kitchen, I could see the pink morning light. I knew it would only last 5 minutes and that I wouldn't get in time to Woodbine Beach, a 10 minute drive away, to admire it. A few of these promising sunrises had been teasing me that way recently. That’s when I decided I would go and check out Woodbine’s sunrises every day over the next month.
Here’s my first week of sunrises, and a nice morning walk suggestion to do after your sun salute, including a gourmet stop… of course!
March 10 to 16, 2021
Each morning, I consulted my temperature app, for the expected time of sunrise over Toronto. Then I’d head to the beach in time to take my seat a few minutes prior to the event.
The first week of my project, March 10-17, was a good week to welcome the sun! For six days, there were few clouds to obstruct my view. As for the seventh day, it was cloudy, dramatic and spectacular.
On that day, I made it to the beach 15 minutes before sunrise by chance. This allowed me to see a beautiful sky on fire against a purple background! That's when I realized that the light before a sunrise offers the possibility of a completely different kind of show. Since then, I have made sure to get there 15-20 minutes before the official sunrise time.
Good to know: I noticed that the sun was rising a few minutes BEFORE the time announced by my app! Also remember that every spring day, the sun rises a few minutes earlier than the day before!
About Woodbine Beach
Woodbine’s bay is wide open, which makes it a perfect spot to see the yellow circle pop above the water. It is located at 1675 Lake Shore Boulevard East, and I recommend accessing it from Northern Dancer Blvd, where there are traffic lights and a Tim Hortons. You can park east of the café.
Until March 31, dogs were legally free-roaming on Woodbine Beach. Dog owners now have to keep their pooch on leash until they reach the fenced-in dog section of the beach, a 15-minute walk further east.
A 3-km circuit around Woodbine Beach
From the first day of my project, I was curious to discover what was open for the little hours on Queen Street. From the beach, I walked up Woodbine Avenue by the Donald A. Summerville elevated pool. (I noticed a chess table and two chairs carved from a tree trunk.)
On Woodbine and Queen East, several nice houses are a reminder that the neighbourhood was once home to cottages for affluent Torontonians. On the north side, you can admire the rond-bosse on the front of Book City, and the beautiful mural at the back of the terrace of The Stone Lion pub.
A little further, jackpot for early risers! The little Bud's Coffee Bar serves excellent coffee and deliciously moist vegan muffins (1966 Queen est, open from 7am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 8am to 6pm on Sunday). One block further, on the south side, COBS Bread opens daily from 6am to 7:30pm. Ahhhh, the smell of hot bread…
Intricatly cut metal panels await us near the Kew Gardens Public Library. It reads Kew Gardens: A place of innocent amusement - Joseph Williams. I learned that Joseph Williams was the man who turned his farm on the shore of Lake Ontario into a tourist destination in 1879, shortly after streetcars made the area easily accessible to Torontonians.
A beautiful mural by John Kune has replaced the old jazz-themed mural on the east wall of the Foodland at Queen and Lee Avenue (due to damage to the wall).
To complete this 3-km walk, I returned to the lake via Lee Avenue, which runs alongside the beautiful Kew Gardens Park, and returned to the parking lot by taking the boardwalk westbound.
On April 18, I went to Ashbridges Bay at around 8 a.m. There was a police car but they allowed cars to come and go. By 9 a.m., they were installing a yellow tape to prevent people from parking around Woodbine Beach (they only let the marina people and out).
On May 1, a policeman at Woodbine confirmed to me that the parking lots won't be closed after all during the May lockdown... (but the City's website still say that we can't).
Note that the parking meters are back in the City parks from May to September. But we only need to pay from 5 pm to 9 pm on weekdays (max $5), and from 9 am to midnight on weekends or holidays (max $9).
In case the parking lots are closed you want to watch the sunrises, you need to know the following:
• The residential streets around Woodbine Beach won't allow you to park between 12 midnight and 7 a.m. Since the sun currently rises earlier than 6:10 a.m., it's a problem!
• We're allowed to park for free on the south side of Eastern Avenue (west of Coxwell), but ONLY on weekends.
• If you don't mind paying for parking, you'll find plenty of spots in the Green P parking lots south of Queen (#183 to #187, between Winners Cricle and Woodbine). It might cost you $8 if they charge the fixed rates for the time before and after 7 a.m. (max for 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. is $3, and max for 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. is $5).
• You can park for free on the south side of Queen East BEFORE 8 a.m. Monday to Saturday and before 1 p.m. on Sundays, but ONLY east of Woodbine.
Liked this? You will like: 1st Week of SUNRISES at Woodbine Beach (1/4): With 6-km walk around Queen East
3rd Week of SUNRISES at Woodbine Beach (3/4): With 3.6-km walk around street art
4th Week of SUNRISES at Woodbine Beach (4/4): With 4.7-km walk around Ashbridges Bay
Today's post is a complement to THE BEACH Soothing Stroll, one of 26 walks featured in my latest walking guide: Toronto BEST Urban Strolls. You can order it through your local bookstore, or online on amazon.ca, Indigo.ca or directly from the author. You can also pick up copies at 299 Booth Avenue by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org