East of the Leslie Street Spit and the Ashbridges Bay Treatment Plant, Toronto’s shoreline is 84.2% public: 31 kilometres of beaches, bluffs and peninsulas. This is only rivalled by the future state of the Port Lands, when Waterfront Toronto finishes the new Don Mouth and converts the existing port channels into public promenades. But the eastern shoreline is not untouched. Most of the alterations consist of manmade landmass to capture sand for the beaches, create artificial spits or protect the bluffs from lake erosion.
The beaches of East York became a large and continuous strip due to wooden groynes built in the 1930s, capturing sand washed inland by the waves. Woodbine Beach was born out of the same work that saw the marshes of Ashbridges Bay infilled to create the Port Lands, and Lake Shore Boulevard extended to Woodbine Avenue. It was expanded again in 1975 with the addition of a large artificial peninsula.
Aerial view of Woodbine Beach, 1956. Images from City of Toronto Aerial Photographs collection.
The East York beaches end at the Scarborough boundary, and the RC Harris Water Treatment Plant. Originally the site of Victoria Park (the actual park; the street was named for it), the plant built by the then-Commissioner of Public Works, Rowland Caldwell Harris, and the architect he delegated significant authority to in its design, Thomas Canfield Pomphrey.
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