29 Years of Urban Fishing Festivals in the Toronto Area

 

In 1985, staff at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry's Aurora District began coordinating 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 and Forestry 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 2014, the Ministry is once again offering the summer license-free period from Saturday, July 5th to Sunday, July 13th. That’s the same time as National Fishing Week, which started in 2000.

  

"All of the festivals have outstanding support from various partners," says Paul Heeney, 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 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 may supply. 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.

 

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 29 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


 

 


Urban Fishing Festivals In The Greater Toronto Area

 

There are many opportunities in the GTA to get out and fish licence-free during Family Fishing Week, July 5-13, 2014.

 

High Park, Grenadier Pond
Saturday, July 5, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Directions:  Located at 1873 Bloor Street West in Toronto. 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 hill to pond.
Partners:  City of Toronto, Toronto Urban Fishing Ambassadors, Evergreen Foundation, Canadian National Sportsman Shows, LEF Bike Program, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

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 is supplied at no cost.

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Darlington Provincial Park
Saturday, July 5, 10 a.m.-2p.m.
Directions:  Highway 401 to Courtice Rd. Go South to Darlington Park Road to the gates. There, staff will instruct on how to get to picnic area 4.
Partners:  OFAH, Darlington Provincial Park and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Provincial Park 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. Free hot dogs and refreshments are available for kids. Bait is supplied at no cost.

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Unionville - Toogood Pond
Saturday, July 5, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Directions:  Just north of Highway 7 and west of Main Street in Unionville, at the pavilion off Carleton Road.
Partners:  Ontario Chinese Anglers Association, Town of Markham, Hawgtown Bassmasters, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

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 5, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Directions:  From Highway 401, take Brock Road south. Turn right onto Bayly. Take Liverpool Road south to Commerce Street. Turn right (west) to Front Street. Turn left (south) into Progress Park entrance.
Partners:  The Pickering Rod and Gun Club, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, City of Pickering, Muskies Canada, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

A limited number of rods and reels can be borrowed on a first-come first-served basis. There will be free hot dogs, prizes and refreshments for kids. Bait is supplied at no cost.

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Meadowvale - Lake Aquitaine Park
Saturday, July 5, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Directions:  From Highway 401, take Winston Churchill Boulevard down to Derry Road, over to Aquitaine Avenue and then right on Glen Erin Drive. Turn left at first lights into Meadowvale Community Centre. Event is behind community centre.
Partners:  The Credit Valley Conservation Authority, Izaak Walton Fly Fishing Club, Mississauga Bassmasters, the City of Mississauga, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

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 is supplied at no cost.

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Newmarket - Fairy Lake
Sunday, July 6, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Directions:  Fairy Lake is located in Wesley Brooks Park, off Eagle Street just east of Main Street.
Partners:  The Newmarket Optimists, Aurora Bassmasters, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority, Kids, Cops & Canadian Tire, York Regional Police Association, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

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

Special Note: Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s new Learn to Fish Program will be offered to a limited number of participants at Fairy Lake who pre-register at ontarioparks.com/fishing. One hour of dryland instruction will begin at 9 a.m. Fishing basics, safety, species identification, basic tackle, conservation and more will be covered. Afterwards participants will be able to fish with those who attend the Urban Fishing Festival at 10 a.m. Representatives from Ontario Parks will be on hand to provide information about the Learn To Camp Program and the Learn to Fish program.

 

For More information:

 

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