Lake Ontario, Ontario - Anne Brookbank
I’m originally from Toronto. I’ve moved to Vancouver, to Halifax, to PEI. Today I’m in my 90s and I live in Ottawa. But after all of that, my memories from Lake Ontario resonate most. The lake was a big part of my upbringing.
I still remember Woodbine Beach, east of Leslie Street. I also remember Balmy Beach Canoe Club, where I would go dancing with my girlfriends. I’d also go to Kew Beach, but not to swim because it was too polluted.
When I was around twelve or thirteen – yup, 80 years ago – Woodbine had that long boardwalk, and on Sundays, when it was quiet, everyone was there walking. On Easter, everyone got new outfits and would show it off by walking along the boardwalk (if it wasn’t too cold). You would see all of your friends there on the weekends.
East of Woodbine, I remember the lake being quite polluted, but the older boys swam and dove in. I remember swimming at Woodbine because it was cleaner. We used to go down there every day in the summer. I think that’s where I learned to swim. I used to walk down there with my girlfriend; we lived on Coxwell Avenue, so that’s a good walk, especially for kids. Not often but sometimes I’d go to Woodbine with my parents, just sitting there and taking our lunch, and my mom would be wearing beach pyjamas.
Lake Ontario can be a cold lake, but the beach was a big part of our lives in the summer.