Lake Ontario, the easternmost of the five Great Lakes, connects the St. Lawrence River in the east to Niagara Falls in the west. Home to Canada’s most populous city, Toronto, its shores also host Kingston, Watertown, Oswego, Rochester, and Hamilton, splitting its waters between Ontario and New York. At its eastern end lies the Thousand Islands archipelago, totaling 1,864 islands between the two countries. With a length of 193 miles and a width of 53 miles, over 100 beaches (and a few forts from the War of 1812) are included along its 712-mile shoreline.
1. Darlington / Oshawa, Ontario
August 2019: Darlington Provincial Park is a radio site in Oshawa, at the eastern extent of the Greater Toronto Area. Just 35 miles from downtown Toronto, the site is boxed in by the Toronto, Buffalo, Rochester, Barrie, and Peterborough markets, yet still distant stations persist here. Due to the high cost of visiting this site, helpful advice to avoid day use fees or else listen from a nearby alternative site are outlined.
2. Grimsby Mountain, Ontario
August 2014: Grimsby Mountain is a radio site on the Niagara Peninsula in southern Ontario. The site is in direct view of the Toronto skyline 32 miles across the water to the north and is part of the Golden Horseshoe megalopolis of 8 million residents (21% of the nation’s population) and adjacent to the extended Greater Toronto (GTA) metro area. The city of Grimsby lies between Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment, a long raised landform stretching from Rochester in western New York, spanning the Niagara Peninsula, heading north to Collingwood and Tobermory and circling around to the west shore of Lake Michigan to Milwaukee. The escarpment is an abrupt drop in elevation from inland Ontario to the Lake Ontario watershed and is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve with the oldest forest ecosystem in eastern North America. If Canada’s largest city weren’t right beside it, the escarpment here would be a fantastic radio site.
3. Kettleby / Newmarket, Ontario
May 2008: The Kettleby / Newmarket site is a rural radio site atop the Oak Ridges Moraine between Toronto and Barrie, Ontario and immediately outside the far north suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). The moraine, which spans from Peterborough in the east to the Niagara Escarpment in the west, includes land upwards of 1,000 feet above Lake Ontario. At 27 miles (43 km.) north of downtown Toronto, the north slopes of the moraine can be used to weaken otherwise strong Toronto locals. This bandscan was conducted with Saul Chernos and Niel Wolfish.
4. Loyalist Twp. / Bath, Ontario
August 2019: This radio site lies along the Loyalist Parkway just west of Kingston and across from Amherst Island. A site full of history, tiny Finkle’s Shore Park is the host of this impromptu site in the northeast corner of the lake. Despite Prince Edward County blocking much of the path to the west and a wall of stations from upstate New York, stations from Toronto and Buffalo unexpectedly persist here. Along with Loyalist historic sites, Kingston is a must-visit city here.
5. Oswego, New York
August 2018: Oswego, New York is home to Breitbeck Park. With a view of the West Pierhead Lighthouse, it is the primary radio site on the southeast shore of Lake Ontario. Oswego is an equal 50 miles from both Rochester and Kingston, close enough that signals from both are audible yet not overwhelming. In addition, it is 30 miles from inland Syracuse, where the few dozen stations and numerous translators scattered throughout Central New York put a dent in the hopes of carefree listening. Ottawa and Montréal are regulars here, as they are along most of these shores, and with daytime conditions, Toronto is a relatively easy catch.
6. Presqu’ile / Brighton, Ontario
August 2019: At the very center of the north shore of Lake Ontario, Presqu’ile is a provincial park comprising of a boot-shaped peninsula jutting into the lake. The area includes numerous tourist attractions from Cobourg and The Big Apple to the west, Trenton, Belleville, and Prince Edward County to the east, and the park itself, home to plenty of attractions within its sizable borders. Because of the site’s location between markets yet not too close or too far from them, more than a dozen New York translators could be heard here along with signals from all shores of the lake and beyond.
7. Rochester / Webster, New York
August 2018: Webster Park is just 10 miles (a 25-minute drive) outside downtown Rochester, New York’s third largest city. The park is a fantastic location that combines both low and high listening options, is somewhat roughly in the center of Lake Ontario’s southern shore, and is close to only one major metro area: itself. Because of its location, everything from Buffalo and Toronto east to Kingston, Montréal, Ottawa, and Syracuse can be heard here. However, Rochester has nearly 40 local stations to sift through, a great number of them being translators.
8. Sackets Harbor / Watertown, New York
August 2016 – August 2018: Sackets Harbor is a radio site on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, 15 minutes west of Watertown. The town is home to Sackets Harbor Battlefield, an historic site that was once a major naval and military station and battlefield during the War of 1812. The site is part of the Watertown and Kingston radio markets, with Kingston 25 miles away, and with strong semi-local signals from nearby Syracuse, 60 miles to the south, and Ottawa, 100 miles to the north. Stations from Toronto and Buffalo in the west to Montréal in the east are common both day and night here.
9. Thirty Mile Point, New York
August 2018: Thirty Mile Point is a radio site within Golden Hill State Park along New York’s south central shore of Lake Ontario. The name Thirty Mile Point refers to the fact that the point, home to a lighthouse built in the 1870s, lies thirty miles east of the mouth of the Niagara River, while the origin of the name Golden Hill differs depending on whether one relies on the accounts of locals or early French maps of the area. The site lies 30 miles northeast of Buffalo, and 45 miles from both Toronto and Rochester, yet the strongest local signals originate primarily out of Toronto, most of which broadcast from the CN Tower and First Canadian Place just across the open water.