Bruce Cockburn & Toronto: A Historical Tour

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(#5) Toronto in Cockburn's Album Art: Ward's Island bridge leading to Algonquin Island

High Winds White Sky artwork

The album cover photo for Cockburn's 1971 High Winds White Sky (left) and the photos that illustrated the original album booklet were taken on a snowy day here. The bridge that was there then has been replaced since, with a less steep incline. In addition, some of the original trees are gone and there's some new ones.

Bruce responded to a question I asked him about the album cover in a virtual interview with the Humans Internet discussion group in 1995:

"The picture was taken on Ward's Island, part of the tiny archipelago which shelters Toronto Harbour. I never lived there. The houses were mostly built as veterans' housing after I forget which war, though some, most have been cottages at one time. The city of Toronto, at the prodding of developers is always trying to get the residents out so they can put up a golf course or something. These attempts have been met with stiff legal resistance by the islanders, who are very attached to their pretty community just a 10 minute ferry ride from downtown."

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Access the original 'High Winds White Sky' album booklet here

Toronto's Harbour Islands are a unique place in the city environs. Only accessible by ferry, they are a world apart from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Centre Island, the largest, has parks, bike trails, and beaches, and remains the most popular destination for visitors from Toronto to the islands. At one time containing hotels, dance pavilions and vacation cottages, these were torn down by the government between 1958 and 1959, with Ward's Island and Algonquin Island being the only populated islands, with 650 homes in total.

The convoluted history of the residents of the two islands and their battle with the City of Toronto (who also wanted their houses torn down) is enough to fill book. Suffice to say, the denizens of Ward's and Algonquin now own their houses and land through a Land Trust. For more information, I recomend the excellent article on the Harbour Islands called "Life Lessons" from the November 2000 issue of Islands magazine.

This page is part of The Cockburn Project, a unique website that exists to document the work of Canadian singer-songwriter and musician Bruce Cockburn. The Project archives self-commentary by Cockburn on his songs and music, and supplements this core part of the website with news, tour dates, and other current information.