What to expect on a Toronto Harbour Tour


The Toronto Harbour Tour was a truly magical experience. Immersing myself into open water felt liberating and the bright blue sky made for a beautiful day. On the tour, I was able to see Toronto from a new perspective and I discovered many of the city’s hidden gems. From the Toronto Islands and historical landmarks to the natural ecosystems and wildlife, every view was different.

As the Oriole was docking, lines of people eagerly awaited to board. The Oriole is a fascinating vessel, and the Victorian era steamship style provided a lens on what boating in Toronto would have been like in the past. However, this feeling quickly disappeared as we sailed away from Toronto’s futuristic skyline that manifested itself in our view.



A Brief History

Toronto Waterfront 1916

Toronto Waterfront 1916

Onboard the Oriole, photographs were projected depicting the evolution of Toronto’s Waterfront. The black and white images showed the waterfronts development from a major industrial port in the 1800’s, to a lively recreational and tourism attraction, complimented by the CN tower, Sugar Beach and Rogers Centre. Although much has changed, the Redpath Sugar silo, which has been headquartered here since 1950 can still be seen from the shore receiving deliveries from Great Lake and ocean-going vessels.
During the voyage, many different historical landmarks were visible. Each one helped shape my understanding of the Toronto Harbour and all its dynamic parts.

Hanlan’s Point is one of the Toronto Islands, accessible by ferry. It’s named after John Hanlan, one of the Toronto Islands’ first year-round residents. Here visitors can play at the Centre Island amusement park, swim on sandy beaches or the nude beach (1 of only 2 in Canada!) and sail along the canals. The beach at Hanlans’ point along with Gibraltar Point beach have Blue Flag designation – an international mark of recognition for safe, environmentally friendly beaches with clean water. Through the trees, you could see a red and black tugboat. It dates back to 1932, when the shipping industry still ruled the waterfront in Toronto. This little tugboat guided big ships in and out of port.


Gibraltar Point Lighthouse is the first permanent lighthouse on the Great Lakes. It’s also Toronto’s oldest stone building, originally constructed in 1808. It was used as a lookout tower against American invaders during the war of 1812. According to a local legend, it’s also haunted. On moonless nights, rumor has it that you can hear the ghost of John Paul Radelmüllter, the first lighthouse keeper screaming inside the lighthouse. During the war of 1812, American soldiers chased Radelmüllter up the lighthouse where a gust of wind blew him over the rail to his death.

Toronto Islands

Toronto paddle boarders

Paddle boarding around the Toronto Islands

From the boat, the Toronto islands looked like a little community in the middle of the forest. There are actually 262 residential homes! Lush green trees surrounded picnickers and cyclists biked on trails that extended along most of the waterfront. Many other boaters passed by us and even some paddle borders. It was interesting to go from a fast-paced city life to such a calm and relaxing atmosphere in a matter of minutes. The outskirts of Toronto’s island are a sight to see in itself, but there’s even more to explore on the island!

Natural Ecosystems and Wildlife

Toronto Islands

Toronto Islands Tour

The islands surrounding the harbour are mostly parkland surrounded by beautiful old trees. The ecosystems are untouched habitats that naturally maintain themselves. I could hear songbirds in the treetops and I even saw a swan! In a given year, you can see more than 200 species including blue herons, red fox, beavers and so much more. I definitely recommend bringing your binoculars.

Returning to the Shore

On our way back to shore, we emerged towards a picture perfect view of Toronto’s Iconic skyline. The CN tower, high rise buildings, skyscrapers and architectural masterpieces, framed by island greenery, all work together to create an innovative frontier that is a symbol of Canada as a whole.

Written by Kathleen Rodger, a Fourth year Communications Student at Ryerson University.

Meet the Crew: Captain William Bennett, Director of Marine Operations

Meet Captain William Bennett, Director of Marine Operations for Mariposa Cruises. An extraordinary person to know, Will has an impressive career in Marine that spans across many shipping sectors, and has taken him on voyages around the globe.Having worked with Mariposa Cruises in previous seasons, we were thrilled to have Will Bennett join us in January 2018.  Responsible for the maintenance and operation of a fleet of 6 vessels, and leading a crew of captains, officers, engineers, mates, and deck hands, Will’s role is no small feat.


Mariposa Cruises joins Entertainment Cruises

CHICAGO (Aug. 29, 2018)  – Entertainment Cruises, the nation’s leading dining and sightseeing cruise company, today announced it has acquired Toronto-based Mariposa Cruises. The completion of the transaction extends the company’s footprint into Canada for the first time, boosting its operation to 48 vessels serving upwards of 2.3 million guests across 11 city locations in North America. (more…)

Meet the Crew: Leisure Program Coordinator Janelle Hazelton

Where it all started, Janelle pictured in front of the Mariposa Cruises kiosk.

Meet Janelle Hazelton, Leisure Program Coordinator for Mariposa Cruises and Toronto Ambassador extraordinaire!

It all started in Harbour Tours

Now in her fourth season with Mariposa Cruises, Janelle started out in Harbour Tours, leading live narrations. An endless resource of Toronto trivia, Janelle can point out virtually every landmark along the waterfront and harbour and give its history. Her favorite site along the tour is the Gibraltor Point Lighthouse, whose legendary spooky story she enjoys telling.  Did you know that the Rogers Centre set the world record in 1992 for the greatest number of inflated hot air balloons in an enclosed area—46 in total to be precise? (Janelle knows that.)  (more…)

Summer Event Planning: Your One Stop Shop

With only a few weeks of summer left,  it’s not too late to throw that summer party. We require as little as 24 hours to turn around your request so if you’re in the party planning mood you’re in luck!  Whether you are celebrating an important milestone like a birthday or anniversary, tying the knotentertaining important clients, or rewarding your employees, our team of skilled professionals are with you every step of the way. Here are some great reasons why you should plan your summer event with us: 


Intimate and Cozy Toronto Yacht Cruises

Nothing can compare to chartering a yacht! It allows for a sense of privacy with the freedom and flexibility to host your event as you please. Summer is in full swing and that means enjoying the warm weather and all that this great city has to offer– which includes Toronto Yacht Cruises! During the summer months, planning a private event and finding the perfect outdoor venue can be a challenge. No worries, the Mariposa team is here to help!  Within our fleet of six uniquely styled vessels,  we offer two yachts with the best patio views in the city! The Rosemary and the Klancy are perfect for small and intimate private events, ranging from 45 guests (on the Rosemary) to 80 guests (on the Klancy), depending on the style of your event. These yachts are the perfect for cruising in and around Toronto’s islands and lagoons.


From the Bar: Four Cocktail Recipes to try this Summer

Celebrate the summer season with these tasty cocktail recipes! The summer is here, which means it’s time to relax outdoors and mix yourself up something cool and refreshing. We bring you a few of our favorite picks for entertaining your guests and you can enjoy some of them on a Mariposa Cruise. We make summer party planning easy with a varied selection of beverages available, from delicious pre-pours to welcome your guests aboard, to fun Caesar and Mix & Muddle beverage stations. Non-drinkers and designated drivers can still mix & mingle with a selection of mocktails too.  


Our Top Wedding Tips

Among every group of friends there is at least one person who has organized, prepared and said “I do” at the altar. Thankfully, they are there every step of the way for you, to shed light on the do’s, don’ts and the what I wish I did on the big day! While we understand you may have a few friends like this, it is a totally different ball game when your wedding is on a boat! This comes with different obstacles, opportunities and advice! Not to worry, our seasoned team has received plenty of feedback over the years, and we compiled a few of our best wedding tips for you!