The boardwalk, the beach, the Wards Island Café (in its many incarnations) are such dear, familiar places to me. (Although I must say, now that I have experienced the vast ocean beaches of PEI, the little beach at Wards looms larger in my imagined memory than in real life, it seems!)
I remember the excitement with which I discovered that the island did not end at the soccer field next to the ice cream bar, but went on for several more “blocks”, covered in the neatest little houses, many now in delightful arts and crafts style. “People LIVE here?!” I asked my mom in awe. (I am still intrigued by the homes... I can spend hours wandering the streets of Algonquin and Wards, lost in the artistry of the communities there.)
One time when I was about 8 or 9 years old, my mom ambitiously tried to have us bike to the island from our home in New Toronto. We got about two thirds of the way to the ferry docks before she realized it was time to just buy me an ice cream from a street vender and head home.
Now my own kids are discovering the joys of this boundless parkland across the water from the city, thanks to my obsession with the Island. Like my mother, I insist we spend some time there each summer. Unlike my mother, though, I have booked rooms on the island, and the boys and I have often stayed overnight on summer weekends, enjoying the beach when it is peaceful in early morning or later evening, after most of the visitors have gone back to the city. I wonder if she knew one could do that, stay on her beloved island overnight… I bet she would have liked it!