Winter tends to scurry most rec water users away from Canadian beaches – understandably. Enduring blistering cold winds isn’t considered fun to most. But the Great Lakes’ frigid temperatures also bring unique opportunities.
Here is a short list of winter activities you can find around Lake Ontario.
“About 140 bird species can be seen in the GTA between December and February, with as many as 120 species in Toronto alone… Winter is also when owls take centre stage. As many as 11 owl species have been spotted in Toronto during winter months.” Read more
"It's actually not as cold as you think," says Robin Pacquing, as the water is often warmer than the air. "You're better off being in there!" She said surfing is about being connected to nature and having a mindfulness about what you're doing. She also described what it's like surfing mid-winter. "It's such a magical feeling when the snow falls and you've caught a wave." Read more
3. Scuba Diving
“In the summer, the lake tends to suffer from algae bloom. That reduces visibility certainly in the first 50 to 60 feet considerably,” he said. “In the winter, that’s all gone. The weeds that grow up during the summer in the first 15 feet of the waterline and so on tend to die off.” Read more
“Winter offers many delights for visitors to Ontario Parks. The crowds are gone; the forest is hushed; the air is crisp and invigorating. Don’t hibernate! Get out and see what Ontario Parks have to offer. Many parks are open for day-use and some even offer overnight camping.” Read more
“I thought I'd crossed Canada's snowy terrain nearly every way possible. In boots and skates, in small cars and large trucks, on snowmobiles and skis, on snowshoes and toboggans. And finally, after all these years, I've discovered the best way to travel through the snowbound beauty of an Ontario winter: being pulled by a team of Siberian huskies… I'd postponed this trip a year due to scheduling conflicts. If I'd known what a remarkable experience it is, I never would have waited.” Read more
6. Ice fishing
“Not only does ice level the playing field and let people without watercraft access the best spots, it can also be a great time to catch fish. Good ice fishing opportunities exist across the province, including within an hour or two of the GTA. Angling expert shares his tips for ice fishing in Ontario this season.” Read more
*Because of the unusually warm winter, many Ontarian ice fishing enthusiasts are still waiting for the ice to form.
7. Ice skating
“The outdoor Colonel Sam Smith Skating Trail is a true gem and the only one of its kind in the city, another Etobicoke first! Perfect for families, teens on their first date, or for those just looking to get out of the house during those winter months. Lace up those skates and get your mitts on, I’ll see you on the skating trail.” Read more
*Weather-permitting, skating on Lake Ontario is also possible in certain parts of the region.
Lake Ontario’s watershed delivers year-round.
As our beaches and parks call out to us in summer, their calls echo in winter. But the cold won’t last forever. Seeing how warm this winter has been, 2016 may not have these fun activities for long.
So bundle up and get out there!