The tour begins with a little history lesson on the mainland, in a tent erected to house a television set that shows some old footage from the island and the Toronto harborfront. The existing narration is accompanied by a local actor, who tries to excite the small group about the haunted lighthouse we will soon visit on Hanlan's Point.
Then it's onto the boat for the 12 of us (a few warm blankets are scattered on the seats for those who forgot to dress in layers on this cool October night), and an audio tour begins, narrated by none other than 85-year-island-resident, Jimmy Jones (the Unofficial Mayor of Toronto Island).
What a treasure to hear Jones recount tales of the Trillium ferry, and share his own personal memories of Hurricane Hazel and the vibrant communities that once flourished all along the Toronto Islands! (And as an added bonus, the accompanying music is classical, rather than the all-too-ubiquitous pop.)
Soon, we leave the city behind, and make our way down the dark lagoon towards Canada's second oldest lighthouse, and Toronto’s most famous ghost, J.P. Radelmüller.
While we follow the eerie light of her lantern towards the old Lighthouse, the previous small tour group departs, leaving us stranded with this shady character at the Lighthouse.
The ghost retreats into the darkness, our island host bids us an intoxicated farewell as she greets her next group, and we slide onto the small boat for the journey back down the lagoon and across the harbour to the city.
My only suggestion for improvement might be to include some narration on the ride home, about this summer's flooding, perhaps, and about what the island has come to mean for Torontonians, as a transition back to the present. That being said, when I shared my closing idea with the kids, they pointed out that it was already information overload, and that some people might prefer to just cuddle up on their blanket and enjoy the boat ride back in silence, as they reflect on and process what they've heard.