A Photographic Guide to Marie Curtis Park

With matured and weeping trees abound, this park is filled with beautiful nature—and the beach is a bonus!

In an effort to motivate more people to enjoy their natural surroundings, I’ve created a series of photographic guides to let people know what various parts of the lakeshore look like. These parks are some of my favourite locations to photograph the sunrise, but they can be equally beautiful during the day as well. The list of parks in my Photographic Guide series include:

Marie Curtis Park—located in the west end of Toronto near Lakeshore and Brown’s Line—includes a beach, splash pad, and an off-leash dog park situated just south of Lakeshore. The green space here is divided by Etobicoke Creek, where the Waterfront Trail continues on to the west of the creek.

The CN Tower is seen just above the treeline in the distance. The city skyline, however, is not visible from this park.

While the CN Tower is visible just above the treeline, the city skyline isn’t visible from this park. However there are still a number of places for great photography (sunrise or not) all around this park. For clarity, I have divided this park into two sections for this blog post:

Map of Marie Curtis Park
Inset Map of Marie Curtis Park

[8] The cannon on the boardwalk at Marie Curtis Park.

East of Etobicoke Creek

The east part of the park is where the small beach is located, along with the life guard post and the cannon that sits on the boardwalk, as seen above. The cannon was built in 1803 by Carron Company and brought over to Riverdale Park from Quebec City in 1881, eventually finding its way to this location in Marie Curtis Park.

If you time your sunrises right, you just may get the sunrise coming out of the cannon one morning!

Leaving the car from the parking lot just east of the Etobicoke Creek and following the pathway by the creek to its mouth at Lake Ontario, you can get a glimpse of the morning light along with the moody glow from the light of the café building [2]. The orange glow at the rear of the building plays beautifully with the blue hue from blue hour in this photo below.

[2] The glow of the lights from the food stand during blue hour.

If you look a little more to the left here, you’ll see another building further in the distance with the hum of the yellow sulphur light [3]. Get a glimpse of that hidden beneath the massive trees you can find here at the park, and it might make for some great atmospheric photos. Have someone standing in the light to give these trees some scale as to how large they are.

[3] The glow from a light hidden beneath the tall trees of the park gives off an eerie feel to this area of the park early in the morning. The 30-second long exposure blurred the leaves in the trees here.

Enough with this side though—don’t forget you are right by Etobicoke Creek, which is another point of interest for this park. Look in the direction to the creek [4], and you’ll see the west side of the park. If you follow the railing all the way up north, you’ll get a great glimpse of the creek with the pedestrian bridge in the distance. In this photo below, the parking lot just west of the creek is visible on the left side of this photo.

[4] The Etobicoke Creek long exposure smooths out the water.

If you walk a little north and look toward the west side of the park, you’ll see an open green space with lots of trees. The scenery here is quite beautiful on a quiet snowy day, as seen below [1].

[1] A couple walks at Marie Curtis Park in a snow storm.

If we continue on the pathway to the opposite side to Lake Ontario, you’ll get to this walkway that leads to the life saver post situated at the very end [6]. This is a perfect example of leading lines, and can offer a number of great photo opportunities. If you look further down this post, I’ve included a photo from the walkway on the west side of the creek, during a violent moment with waves crashing on the post.

[6] The walkway makes for great photo opportunities at all hours of the day, with birds on the railings, and waves crashing all around during windy conditions.

If you look just to the bottom left of the image above, you’ll see rocks by the water. These rocks actually make for great foreground elements if you position them correctly in your frame. I went down by the rocks, and positioned my camera on top of one of them, creating this 30-second exposure during blue hour [5].

[5] The rocks offer foreground element interest.

This rocky outcrop is the start of the Marie Curtis Park beach. It’s a short stretch of sandy shoreline, but a most welcome one to the residents nearby—especially on those 30 degree celsius summer days. A beach wouldn’t be complete without a lifeguard seat—so there is one situated right in the middle of the beach right by the boardwalk [7].

[7] Life guard not on duty during sunrise.

This boardwalk is also where a historic cannon is located, pictured in an earlier photo in this post [8]. The boardwalk makes a zigzag near this cannon, which can offer a stark contrast to the curves found in the surrounding sand and softness of the waves rushing in the shoreline [9].

[9] The linear contrast of the boardwalk to the curves found in the sand and water.
[Near 17] One of the many picturesque trees at Marie Curtis Park.

West of Etobicoke Creek

Just west of Etobicoke Creek is a lot of green space with a longer shoreline fronted with many picturesque trees. The waterfront trail passes through this area and continues onward to the west. The opening photo above is just one example of a picturesque tree that stands strong by itself in front of the lakeshore. But what further accentuates the appeal of this area is the elevation you get as the ground slopes down just before the beachfront. The trees, people walking their dogs, and anything moving on the beach are all seen at a lower perspective offering some unique angles for photography [17].

A silhouette of a couple walking along the beach with their dogs.

If you look down west of the beach, you’ll see a long stretch of sand that eventually leads to an unsightly view of a waste-water treatment plant [Near 13]. The walk along the beach can be refreshing however, as seen by the number of people taking walks early in the morning.

[Near 13] Looking west along the beach provides a glimpse of trees on the right, but also a view of the unsightly waste-water treatment plant.

The walk on the green space gives us a glimpse of trees and nature that brilliantly changes colours in the autumn season [15].

[15] The waterfront trail runs right in front of these trees so if you time it right, you can get passersby riding their bike or jogging the trails.

With a wide open waterfront, this shoreline can be victim to some wild weather. If you come here in the middle of a winter storm, the shoreline will be frozen from the frigid temperatures and waves of Lake Ontario crashing on the rocks and frozen packs of ice [18].

[18] The shores of Marie Curtis Park are wide open, which opens itself to some harsh weather, as seen in this photo taken during a snow storm in 2017.

As mentioned earlier in this post, I am quite fond of some of the trees seen in this park. This photo below shows the details of the trunks of a tree right by the shoreline and walkway [14]. It is surrounded by rocks, which makes for an ideal photo opportunity.

[14] I love this tree on the left of this frame, and how it leans over the rocks and water beneath it. The walkway in the background is gated as it is currently undergoing some revitilization.

The walkway you see in the background is currently undergoing maintenance so the unsightly fence mars this otherwise beautiful view. Moving around this tree to face the other side, you get another picture-worthy view looking down the shoreline [13].

[13] A beautiful winter scenery at Marie Curtis Park.

Move a little closer to the creek and point your camera to the east side walkway, you’ll get a beautiful view with the glow of the morning light [11].

[11] The west walkway as seen from the east side of Etobicoke Creek. 30-second long exposure.

And finally, the west walkway as seen during a wild winter storm shows waves crashing on the life saver ring and post [12].

[12] The violent waves crashing on the pathway provided for some great photo opportunities. Just be careful of your surroundings as the water came right through the side railing as well.

I will leave you with this final photo which is one of the reasons why I admire this park at all seasons [10]. The different variety of trees seen here throughout the year look very magical at different times of the year. If you get the chance, visit this park every season for a breath of fresh air outside the hustle and bustle of the city streets.

[10] The lone coniferous tree is covered in snow during a snow storm that rendered this scene almost like a painting.

Have you been to Marie Curtis Park before? Let me know in the comments below what you think of this park.

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