A pool lover's guide to Toronto's free public outdoor pools
By Samantha Edwards
Jul 11, 2018
City of Toronto
Giovanni Caboto outdoor pool
When heat waves strike Toronto – where humidity is so oppressive it feels like you’re walking through a lukewarm piece of damp gauze – there’s no better reprieve than plunging into a pool.
Swimming in one of Toronto’s outdoor public pools beats binge-eating popsicles, air conditioned movie theatres and even, dare I say, trekking to the island. There are 58 pools located throughout the city, meaning you can spend an afternoon poolside or easily pop in for even just an hour. Here are the eight best pools in Toronto.
Whenever I bike along Dundas West and catch a glimpse of the sparkling blue waters of Alexandra Park pool, I instantly feel the urge to go swimming. Although it doesn’t have any of the bells and whistles like Olympic diving boards or twisty slides, this pool at Dundas and Bathurst is spacious and has a large deck for lounging. Best yet, it’s one of the pools that usually stays open late during a heat wave.
Leisure swim: every day 12-8 pm. 275 Bathurst.
Sunnyside Gus Ryder Outdoor Pool
Sure, this pool gets busy on hot weekends, but it also has the biggest capacity in the city, so you won’t have to wait in lines to get in. Unlike many pools in the city, there’s always a blocked off area for lane swimming. And also unlike most pools, it has a rich history: The pool first opened in 1925, snagging the title as the largest pool in Canada. The beautiful bathing pavilion, which opened in 1922 and was designed by Alfred Chapman, the architect also behind the Princes’ Gate at Exhibition Place and Havegral College, was originally a change room for swimmers headed to the beach.
Lane and leisure swim: every day 10 am-3:55 pm, 5-8 pm. 1755 Lake Shore West.
Donald D. Summerville Olympic Pools
This is the spot to do what I like to call the “double double dunk.” First, go lounge in the sand at nearby Woodbine Beach and take a dip in Lake Ontario. Once you’ve been hit by enough rogue volleyballs, pack up and head to the Donald D. Summerville Olympic Pools. There are three pools here: a 50-metre Olympic-sized pool, a 25-metre training pool and a diving pool with five and 10 metre platforms.
Leisure swim: every day 10 am-4 pm, 5-7 pm. Lane swim: every day 7-8 pm. 1867 Lake Shore East.
City of Toronto
Alex Duff Memorial pool
Alex Duff Memorial Pool
Located at the edge of Christie Pits Park, the Alex Duff Memorial Pool is one of the city’s best for a few reasons: it has a two-storey water slide, a one-metre spring board to practice your dives or cannon balls, plus a separate lap pool and splash pad for kids. During extended heat waves, as issued by Toronto Public Health, it’s usually open late too. (On hot weekends though, it’s filled with pool hoppers long after official closing hours.)
While it’s sometimes hard to get poolside towel space at Toronto pools, that’s not the case at Giovanni Caboto pool. Located at St. Clair West and Lansdowne, this pool has stadium-style seating, a perfect perch for hanging out like the cool kids from high school. Along with leisure swim every day, there’s also lane swims every evening and Monday and Wednesday mornings.
Leisure swim: every day 11:45 am-7:30 pm. Lane swim: Every day 7:45-8:45 and Mondays and Wednesdays 8:30-9:15 am. 1367 St. Clair West.
Inside a five-hectare park near Danforth and Coxwell, this swimming hole features a 25-metre pool with a diving area, two-storey waterslide and a wading pool for kiddies, which has the same hours as the main pool. They also hold swim lessons ranging from preschool swim programs to Bronze Cross.
Leisure swim: every day 12-7 pm. Lane swim: every day 7-8 pm. 115 Felstead.
High Park pool
Tucked inside High Park, this pool has separate swimming hole for youngins’ so adults don’t need to worry about getting kicked by kids or vice versa. It’s also close to High Park’s other amenities like the zoo, tennis courts and walking trails. If you want to leisure swim, be sure to double check the pool’s schedule before you head out. The pool’s closed off to lane swimming throughout the evening.
Leisure swim: every day 12-3:55 pm, 5-6:55 pm. Lane swim: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays 1-5 pm, 7-7:55 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30-10:15 am, 4-5 pm, 7-7:55 pm. Wading pool: every day 10 am-5 pm. 1873 Bloor West.
Riverdale Park East
At the northern tip of the 18-hectare Riverdale Park East, this pool is great for families. It has a two-storey spiral slide, plus a kiddie pool and fountain. They also hold a variety of swim programs for children of all ages.
Leisure swim: every day 12-7 pm. Lane swim: 7-8 pm. 550 Broadview.
Samantha writes about a range of topics including politics, music, books, feminism and race issues. When she’s not reporting, Samantha likes exploring new neighborhoods on her bike, baking and watching way too much TV.