photo of ice-covered shore

tour the toronto islands and the leslie spit

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This is a little winter kayak tour on Lake Ontario. Pretty, but cold. The ice is melting quickly, but we may be able to still see some of it. If the sun is out, and the wind less than 5 knots, we can enjoy some of the most spectacular views you’ll ever see in the city, the ice creates magnificent sculptures that you can only see from the water.

The crossing from the mouth of Humber to Gibraltar point is about 7 km, which usually takes me 50 minutes. That means I travel at approximately 8.5 km/hr or 4.5 knots. It takes me a bit longer if I hug the shore. If the wind is southeast, the lake can build up waves that are quite impressive. 5 feet may not sound like much, but 5′ waves look decidedly bigger from a kayak than from shore. Most of the time though, the winds are northwest, which means there’s no fetch so there’s no way for the waves to build up any height. What does happen is that the waves reflect off the break wall, which makes them very confused. If you paddle very close to the wall, it’s hard to tell where the next wave is coming from, and even paddling in 3 foot waves can be a challenge (or good fun, it depends on how you look at it). If paddling in soup makes you nervous, the solution is to either move behind the break wall (duh!) or paddle out further, away from the wall.

I love paddling on Lake Ontario in the winter and early spring, because you have the lake to yourself. It’s an incredible feeling, to be so near to a city of 2.6 million people and to see only water as far as the horizon. 64,000 km2 of water, and it feels like the only person there is you. That’s amazing.

Sometimes I get lucky with wildlife. On one of my recent trips I came across a Snowy owl. They seem to like the Leslie spit.

because of the low temperatures, you must know your roll, self- and assisted rescues and wear a dry-suit, gloves and hood.

trip rating

This trip is rated Advanced because:

  • the distance covered is > 20km
  • the water temperature is < 10ºC
  • landing is difficult due to ice on shore


Before we leave, check the weather forecast.

MAFOR Marine Forecast Wave forecast





Monday January 17, 2022 at 10:37 PM EST (0 months and 0 days from now)
Monday January 17, 2022 at 10:37 PM EST





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