A Small Bonfire on the Beach in Toronto

*** UPDATE Summer 2023 : This story happened several years ago. I’m not sure if fires on Toronto’s beaches are still legally permitted. I don’t think they are. ***


Our good friends Leslie and Niall treated us to something really fun on Saturday evening — We had dinner cooked over a fire, on a soft sandy beach, beside a gently lapping lake, under a star speckled sky. I’ve lived in Toronto nearly my whole life and had no idea that was even possible to do here!

Cheers to a brand new experience in a city you thought you knew.

It happened just east of the city core, at Cherry Beach, where, a short walk from a public parking lot, there are designated fire-pits set up every 50 feet or so. I counted about 10 fires glowing in the dark on that night.

On what was the second last day of summer, the weather was so pleasant that we never even took the jackets we brought along out of our bags the whole time, remaining in our short sleeved shirts.

Also, following Leslie’s lead, we took off our shoes and socks and kept them off until it was time to go home. The beach was so clean and soft. A quick test of the water proved that it was remarkably warm. That really surprised me and I later read that, while Lake Ontario is generally cold, that part is usually quite a bit warmer, due to it being protected by a long spit to the east and the Toronto Islands offshore.

The fire-pits are used on a first come basis and you have to bring your own wood. Of course, you’re expected to carefully tend your fire, and put it out and completely clean up your space afterward.

It was like going camping, enjoying the campfire and “food-cooked-outdoors” parts, but then returning home to your own nice bed! It was truly one of the best times.

We arrived at about 6:30pm and were lucky to nab an excellent spot.

Leslie and Niall are experienced campers and brought everything we needed, including some folding chairs that turned out to be very comfortable and totally stable on the uneven sand. (They were these ones from Home Depot.)

When we arrived, there was a family nearby who were just finishing up a bbq so they gave us their hot coals, allowing us to get our fire started quickly. We were also fortunate that the previous fire-pit users had left behind some partially burned wood that was quick to catch. Niall said that he usually spends the first hour or so getting a good fire going, but on this evening, it was almost instant.

↑ Skipping stones. ↑

Our kind hosts had some fresh cobs of corn, which they’d left in their husks, soaked in water for a few hours beforehand, and wrapped in tinfoil. These were laid on the stones beside the fire to cook.

Leslie had made a potato salad. They also had a couple of special hot-dog skewers which each cooked two weiners at a time, so Leslie and Niall both took one.

At serving time, the corn was rolled in butter and salted, and the hot-dogs were dressed with mustard, ketchup and relish.

For dessert, we had toasted marshmallows served on bakery cookies (mine was dark chocolate with white chocolate chunks and pieces of macadamia nuts).

Everything was so very delicious, and could easily have lead to over-eating! I was very tempted by the offer of a second hot-dog but settled on splitting one with Leslie. I can’t remember the last time I had a hot-dog cooked over an open fire but, as a kid, they were up there on my list of favourites.

The whole evening was great and we very much appreciated being introduced to a beach bonfire in the city. We look forward to doing it at least once every summer. Big thanks to Leslie and Niall!

↑ Bonus shot taken by Leslie with her phone. ↑

Thank you for reading. xo loulou