28 Years of Urban Fishing Festivals in the Toronto Area

 

In 1985, staff at the Ministry of Natural Resources' Aurora District began co-ordinating a couple of fun-filled, local public fishing events during the summer. These events highlighted urban waterways as fishing opportunities for local residents.

 

The goal of these fishing days was to introduce families -- and especially kids -- to their local fishing holes and often to the sport of fishing itself. These events were also a fun way to connect residents to the natural environments in their communities.

 

Ministry staff soon learned that if an Urban Fishing Festival was to be successful and sustainable, there was simply no way they could do it on their own. 

 

They began searching for partners such as fish and game clubs, conservation authorities, local municipalities and other groups who wanted to make a difference and introduce fishing to the next generation. They found several interested and dedicated volunteers who committed their time and energies to the huge task of organizing these events: securing sponsors, advertising, and obtaining fishing rods, tackle, worms, food, drinks and prizes.

 

The Ministry has been successful over the years in engaging numerous partners to help deliver more Urban Fishing Festivals throughout the Greater Toronto Area.

 

In 1993, when the Ministry of Natural Resources launched the first annual Ontario Family Fishing Weekend, similar family-oriented fishing events were started across the province.

 

families enjoying one of Toronto's Urban Fishing FestivalsLicence-free fishing events allowed Ontario families to fish without a licence – making it even easier introducing angling to a new generation. In 2013, the Ministry has once again extended the summer license-free period to a full week, from Saturday, July 6th to Sunday, July 14th. That’s the same time as National Fishing Week, which started in 2000.

  

"All of the festivals have outstanding support from various partners," says Deb Pella Keen, the Ministry's Aurora District Manager. "In fact, without the dedication of all the volunteers and organizations that set up and help run these Urban Fishing Festivals, they simply could not take place. We are extremely grateful for all the support we've received over the last 27 years and offer everyone involved our heartfelt thanks."

 

One of the guiding principles for Urban Fishing Festivals is that they must remain free for all who participate. This means there are no fees for families taking part. (Standard provincial park gate fees at Darlington and the ferry fee at Toronto Islands do apply.) Additionally, at all eight events, kids can borrow fishing rods and basic tackle, receive a supply of worms and become eligible for any prizes that partners and sponsors supplied. On top of that, several Urban Fishing Festival partners serve up free hot dogs and drinks for all the children as well as give away rods and reels on a first come, first-served basis, courtesy of the Canadian National Sportsmen's Shows.

 

Peter Dickson, of the Pickering Rod and Gun Club and member of the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Zone G, has been an active volunteer with the Frenchman's Bay Urban Fishing Festival and several other kids' fishing events for over 20 years. "These events often take people completely by surprise when they realize that everything they need to take their kids fishing that day is free!" he said. "We don’t charge for anything because we want the local community to realize that families can still attend a fun event like this without someone trying to sell them something or charging them to participate."

 

Over the years, thousands of kids have been introduced to fishing at one of the annual Urban Fishing Festivals. And introducing kids to this great outdoor activity at an early age may encourage them to spend more time outdoors.

 

For 28 years now, the Ministry's ultimate goal is to sow the seed that will help create lifelong anglers. Urban Fishing Festivals can be the vehicle to make that initial introduction. The hope is to make this experience so enjoyable that these same kids will indeed become hooked on fishing … so that they can become the future stewards and perhaps even managers of our fisheries resources in the years to come.

 

For More Information:

Wil Wegman, 
Aurora District
905-713-7730, 
wil.wegman@ontario.ca


 

 


LIST OF URBAN FISHING FESTIVALS – July 6-14, 2013

 

There are many opportunities in the GTA to get out and fish licence-free during Family Fishing Week, July 6-14, 2013.  (Held during Ontario Family Fishing Week & National Fishing Week)

MAP OF FESTIVAL LOCATIONS


youngster enjoying one of Toronto's Urban Fishing FestivalsUnionville - Toogood Pond: Saturday, July 6, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


In partnership with the Town of Markham, Hawgtown Bassmasters, Ontario Chinese Anglers Association, and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.  Directions: This event will be held in the pavilion area off Carleton Road, just north of Highway 7 and west of Main Street in Unionville.
 

A limited number of rods and reels are available for kids under 16 to take home on a first-come, first-served basis.
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Pickering - Progress Park at Frenchman's Bay: Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In partnership with the Pickering Rod and Gun Club, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, City of Pickering, Muskies Canada and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.  Directions: From Highway 401, take Brock Road south. Turn right onto Bayly Street; take Liverpool Road south to Commerce Street turn right (west) to Front Street, turn left (south) to Progress Park entrance.
 

A limited number of rods and reels can be borrowed on a first-come, first-served basis.  There will be free hot dogs and refreshments for kids.  Bait will be supplied at no cost.
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Meadowvale - Lake Aquitaine Park: Saturday, July 13, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In partnership with the Credit Valley Conservation Authority, Izaak Walton Fly Fishing Club, Mississauga Bassmasters, the City of Mississauga and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources..   Directions: From Highway 401, take Winston Churchill Boulevard down to Derry Road, over to Aquitaine Avenue and then turn right on Glen Erin Drive. Turn left at first lights into Meadowvale Community Centre.  Event is behind community centre.
 

A limited number of rods and reels will be supplied for kids under 16 to take home on first-come, first-served basis. Bait will be supplied at no cost.
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Pefferlaw - Pefferlaw River: Saturday, July 13, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
 

In partnership with Pefferlaw Anglers Club, Town of Georgina, Peninsula Resort, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, No Frills Sutton, Lioness Club of Pefferlaw, Frog Street Firewood, Sutton Home Hardware, Sobey's Sutton, Bonnie Boats Ltd., D.W. & Sons Bait and Tackle, The Pefferlaw Post, York Environmental Stewardship, Kids’ Fishing Day (Toronto Sportsmen's Show), Kirk Eddy, James Smockum Portable Toilets, Brad Smockum, Ward 5 Councillor, Mr. Softee, Pefferlaw and District Lions Club and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. Directions: The event takes place on the Pefferlaw River at the mouth of Lake Simcoe. Follow Highway 48 north to Holmes Point Rd. (just before the river and lights on Hwy 48). Turn left (north) and follow signs to Peninsula Resort, 202 Holmes Point Rd.
 

A limited number of rods and reels can be borrowed on a first-come, first-served basis.  All rods, equipment, bait and refreshments will be offered at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis after pre-registered participants have been accommodated.  To avoid disappointment, free pre-registration at lake-simcoe.ca is recommended.
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High Park, Grenadier Pond: Saturday, July 6, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


In partnership with: City of Toronto, Evergreen Foundation, Toronto Urban Fishing Ambassadors, Canadian National Sportsmen's Shows, LEF Bike Program, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.   Directions: Located at 1873 Bloor Street West. Take the TTC to High Park Station and walk south from the station to enter park. Take West Road or Colborne Lodge Drive to Grenadier Restaurant and walk down the hill to pond.

 

A limited number of rods and reels will be supplied for kids under 16 to take home on first-come, first-served basis. Bait will be supplied at no cost.
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Darlington Provincial Park : Saturday, July 6, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Partners: Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Darlington Provincial Park and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Directions: Hwy 401 to Courtice Rd. Go south to Darlington Park Rd. to the gates. Staff will instruct on how to get to Picnic Area #4. Provincial Park Gate day-use fees of $14 per vehicle are in effect.
 

A limited number of rods and reels can be borrowed on a first-come, first-served basis. A free hot dog and drink will be available for kids. Bait will be supplied at no cost.

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Newmarket - Fairy Lake: Sunday, July 7, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

In partnership with the Newmarket Optimists; Aurora Bassmasters; Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority; Kids, Cops & Canadian Tire; York Regional Police Association and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.  Directions: Fairy Lake is located in Wesley Brooks Park, off Eagle Street just east of Main Street.
 

A limited number of rods and reels can be borrowed on a first-come, first-served basis. Free hotdogs and refreshments will be available for kids. Bait will be supplied at no cost.
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Toronto Islands: Sunday July 7, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


Partners: City of Toronto; Toronto Region Conservation Authority; Ontario Chinese Anglers Association; Canadian National Sportsman Shows; Ontario Power Generation; OFAH Tackle Share; Kids Cops & Canadian Tire; Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.  Directions: Take the Toronto Islands ferry at the foot of Bay Street to Centre Island and then proceed to the boathouse.
 

A limited number of rods and reels will be supplied for kids under 16 to take home on a first-come, first-served basis. Bait will be supplied at no cost.
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