Toronto Island is part of a sand-bar which begins on the mainland near Woodbine Avenue and extends westward for about 5 1/2 miles before turning northward toward the main shore. The building of the bar began with the formation of Lake Ontario about 8,000 years ago. Eroded from the Scarborough Bluffs, the sand was shifted westward by wave action during easterly storms. Eventually a long curving peninsula was formed, creating the large natural harbour on which Toronto was founded. The bar's westward growth was halted shortly after 1858 when a storm opened a large gap near the eastern end of the peninsula. The island thus formed became one of Toronto's major recreational areas.
The ferry in the photograph, Sam McBride, was commissioned in 1939, built by Toronto Dry Dock Ltd. Her namesake was a former Alderman and Mayor, who had been the founding chairman of the Toronto Transit Commission. In October 2012, Toronto City Council decided that funds should be set aside to replace the Sam McBride and her two fleet-mates, the Thomas Rennie and the William Inglis with new vessels.