Kew-Balmy Beach

Ontario, Canada

Starfish Rating of 3.5

Claim to Fame

One of the oldest established beaches and boardwalks in Toronto, Kew/Balmy Beach has been the home to celebrities the likes of pianist Glenn Gould, film director Norman Jewison, author Peter Robinson, opera singer Teresa Stratas, actors Keanu Reeves, Kiefer Sutherland, and Donald Sutherland, television game show host Alex Trebek, comedian John Candy and musician Dan Hill. This place is so hip that Miley Cyrus was born here!

(click image to enlarge)
image courtesy of Diego_3336
  • Where is it?on the north shore of Lake Ontario in the city of Toronto, south of Queen Street, between Waverley Road and Silver Birch Avenue
  • Coordinates: latitude» 43.6676°
    longitude» -79.2931°
  • Water Type: freshwater
  • Climate: continental (hot, humid summers; cold, damp winters)
  • Development: heavily built-up urban area; part of major city
  • Length of Beach: .7m/1.2km
  • Type: beige sand
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For more than a century the Balmy Beach Football Club has been a rugby team to be reckoned with, but they donít play on the beach; itís more civilized than that! With a long, winding boardwalk that spans the length of this beach and connects to others along the north shore of Lake Ontario within the city of Toronto, Kew/Balmy Beach has been a Toronto tradition since parasols were part of beach attire.

The combined Kew Gardens and Balmy Beach are in what Torontonians lovingly call ďThe BeachesĒ segment of the eastern edge of the city proper, and the neighborhood is rich with music, shops, restaurants and a wide array of humanity. Itís a cool hip vibe with no pretension whatsoever.

The beach area starts at the west end where the bucolic Kew Gardens, and its yesteryear throwback bandstand/gazebo, hosts concerts. It spans a long stretch of sand to the Balmy Beach Club, and encompasses venerable buildings like the oldest continuously operating cinema in North America, the Fox Theatre. The Leuty Lifeguard Station is a superb example of coastal beach architecture and gives Kew/Balmy Beach a distinct ocean sensibility, despite the fact that it skirts a lake.

The annual Beaches International Jazz Festival is held in the neighborhood each July, with the emphasis of live music centered around Kew Gardens and on Queen Street, which is blocked to vehicular traffic for the period. The jazz event attracts world-wide musicians, but almost always features local favorite, Ray Montford; visit him at to get a taste of what this festival is all about.

The R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant, situated at the eastern end of the beach, might seem like another old stone Victorian industrial building, but its innate charm and character have seen it become scenes for films and television shows, and the setting for In the Skin of a Lion, the novel by Michael Ondaatje.

Although Kew/Balmy Beach is within easy access of fantastic shops and dining, there is a snack bar on the boardwalk, and public washrooms are readily available. Itís a friendly beach, multi-purpose and alive with the life of the city.

See additional Toronto Beaches.

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