Sunday, May 19, 2013

Photo: Lighthouse, Less the Shore

Yesterday--with its bright sun, open blue skies, and warm-but-not-blazing temperatures--was a fair day, and it found me out on the Toronto Islands for the first time in years, and the first time I'd ever gone more than a kilometer or so from the Centre Island ferry dock. Among the things I saw before returning via Hanlan's Point: the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, the oldest surviving lighthouse on the Great Lakes, and at two hundred and five years of age is older than every single construction in the city of Toronto except for three log cabins.

Today it's in the middle of a lightly wooded grove, but two hundred years ago it was right up against the edge of the island's shore, as lighthouses typically are. Centuries of infill and geographical engineering have fundamentally changed the shape and nature of the Toronto Islands in every respect--hell, a time when the islands boasted hotels, shops, movie theaters and bowling alleys is still within living memory, though you'd be hard-pressed to know it from the current parkland state. It's this re-engineering that makes me skeptical of opponents to the Island Airport's runway extension project. I mean, it's not as if the Islands were always some untouched paragon of nature while the metropolis grew up next door.

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