History of Tommy Thompson Park

One of the most interesting characteristics of Tommy Thompson Park (TTP) is that the land on which it lies is completely man-made. Since the Toronto Harbour Commissioners (THC) initiated construction, millions of cubic metres of concrete, earth fill and dredged sand have been added. The site now extends about five kilometres into Lake Ontario and is more than 250 hectares in size.

In 1959, filling to construct the Leslie Street Spit or Outer Harbour East Headland (Tommy Thompson Park) was initiated by the THC (now the Toronto Port Authority) in the area of Leslie Street and Unwin Avenue for "port related facilities". In 1973 the land base of TTP was dramatically increased with dredgate from the shipping channel in the Outer Harbour. From 1974 to 1983 approximately 6,500,000 cubic metres of sand/silt were dredged from the Outer Harbour and placed at the spit. This resulted in the formation of the lagoons and sand peninsulas which account for a significant proportion of the land base of TTP. In 1979, a major expansion of land area occurred with the construction of an endikement on the lakeward side of the Headland. The endikement provided protected cells for dredged material from the Inner Harbour and the Keating Channel.



In the early 1970s, it was determined that a site for port related facilities wasn't required. However, the natural processes that evolved during the long construction and planning of the site had shaped TTP into a truly "accidental wilderness." In August 1973, the Provincial Cabinet gave TRCA "the responsibility of being the Province's agent with regard to the proposed Aquatic Park [Tommy Thompson Park] and the preparation of a master plan". In 1977, this was expanded to include not only the preparation of a master plan, but also development and interim management. Prior to Master Plan implementation, land use has been guided by Interim Management programs initiated in 1992. This program includes public access to the park, nature interpretation programming, shuttle van service within the Park, wildlife management program and a license agreement with the Aquatic Park Sailing Club. TRCA currently owns the land and waterbodies included in TTP. Those areas still under construction are owned by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and are leased to the Toronto Port Authority (TPA). The MNR has indicated the intent to transfer the portions of the MNR owned lands to the TRCA when filling activities at the site are complete.



As the project nears completion, additional fill will widen and extend some of the shoreline, and heavy concrete rubble and armouring will be placed along the eastern shoreline to protect against constant erosion by Lake Ontario. The scouring action of the waves quickly breaks down the concrete rubble and forms the gravel beaches that are present along the eastern shoreline. Current hours of operation are restricted to week days 4-9PM, weekends and holidays due to the truck traffic associated with the ongoing filling operations undertaken by the TPA on the lands currently leased from the MNR. Despite the restricted operation hours, well over 100,000 visitors enjoy TTP annually. Given the high visitor numbers, the proposed residential growth in the West Don Lands that could see local resident numbers reach 60,000 and the development of Lake Ontario Park, TTP is recognized as one of the best areas for greenspace improvement along the Toronto waterfront.


Hours of Operation

Weekdays: 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Weekends & Holidays: 5:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Tommy Thompson Park is open all holidays except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.



Tommy Thompson Park (TTP) is located at the base or foot of Leslie Street where it meets Unwin Avenue, south of Lake Shore Boulevard East.



Lake Ontario moderates TTP?s climate, with less heat & humidity in the summer and less snow in the winter than areas immediately north. Prevailing winds are westerly, with faster speeds and greater wind chill effects. Fogs forms twice as often at TTP than the rest of Toronto.