View from the Toronto Islands | Johnathan Rotsztain

I've been living on the Toronto Island since the beginning of September. When I returned to my native city after spending time in more rural places, the idea of moving back to the heart of Canada's largest metropolis was a little overwhelming. 

The Island offers the perfect compromise. Regular ferry access to downtown Toronto makes the Island accessible, while the harbour provides a distance that helps maintain the Island's small town community feel.

Despite dire predictions of the hardships of Island life, the mild fall we've had this year has made the transition to Island living easy. That wasn't the case when Anne Barber emigrated to Canada and moved onto the Island 23 year ago. 

"Having come in the fall, it's always around this time of year that I remember what it was like to arrive here," says Barber of her own transition to a new country and community. 

Barber, a co-founder of the legendary Shadowland puppet theatre troupe, immediately benefited from that close-knit community spirit. "It seems kind of absurd now, but I really had no idea about the extent of a Canadian winter," she says Barber, "I never really heard of down jackets. Then so many neighbours came and brought warm coats and things like that. My daughter was given an all-in-one snowsuit, which you didn't have in [the UK]. So there I was stuffing my child into this big snowsuit. I never really knew how essential they would be until winter hit."

The warmth of community and those jackets would serve Barber and her young family well. "When the kids were small, I had this policy of, we have to go outside every day," says Barber, "I think on the Island you feel almost obliged to do that in order to get as much out of the place as possible. It didn't matter what the weather was, no matter how bad it seemed, it was always important to stuff everybody in their coats and get outside."

I've taken Barber's experience to heart, making sure to structure outdoor adventures into my Island time, in spite of the conditions or how busy I am. There are so many nooks and crannies to explore and it's a pleasure to be able to get some fresh air and natural stimulation. 
“The Island is the only place I've ever lived in Canada," says Barber, "Right now, the thing that you don't get quite the same in [the UK] is the beautiful foliage. This year has been especially incredible because we've had such nice, sunny days and the leaves have been so vibrant. When you look at the Island, either coming or going on the ferry, it's this glowing place. It always makes me feel like we're having this last gift before we get into the winter months."

Jonathan Rotsztain is a writer, artist and one half of graphic design duo You can learn more about Jonathan

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