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.


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.


The Northern Spirit is Getting a Major Makeover: A Rundown of what’s to come!

Many have enjoyed the Northern Spirit since it joined our fleet in 1993, as it is a popular choice for corporate groups and weddings. It is best known for its wide-open space, bright large picture windows, and having the largest moving rooftop patio in Toronto!

While we’re grateful for all the wonderful events held on board over the years, it was time to give some love back by upgrading the vessel this winter season! As a team we brainstormed, set our sights high, and began the renovation of a lifetime! While the work is quickly progressing, we thought we would share the exciting news of what is to come!


Corporate Entertaining: Make it a Nautical Affair!

corporate events toronto

Corporate mixing and mingling aboard the Captain Matthew Flinders

Corporate entertaining blurs the lines between 9-5 client relationships, and provides companies with a competitive advantage among competitors. When thinking about your providers – whether they be your accountant, friendly neighborhood delivery service or financial advisor, who stands out the most? Is it the one who sends you a card at Christmas, calls on your birthday and asks about your weekend? Many will answer yes to all of the above! Relationship building not only strengthens ties with family and friends, it allows you to create a trusting bond with your service providers as well! While small touches go a long way, they’re easily replicated, and quickly become the status quo. Are you looking to maintain your client relationships, or make new ones? Why not try a unique idea to really blow them out of the water? Why not bring them on board a Mariposa Cruise! (more…)

Top 5 Best Things About Toronto Wedding Cruises

A big city like Toronto has no shortage of choices for wedding venues. Couples on the hunt for a city wedding with a beautiful outdoor setting find that wide-open spaces start to become scarce in the downtown core and come at a premium. Consider a Toronto Wedding Cruise. Mariposa Cruises has hosted thousands of nautical nuptials and if the idea of having your day on the water appeals to you, we’ve got five great reasons why you should:

City or Country Wedding: The Best of Both Worlds


Back from Heddle Marine: The Captain Matthew Flinders is in ship-shape!

Every five years, commercial vessels in Canada must undergo a series of Transport Canada inspections that require vessels to come out of the water. On October 17 at 3:00 am, the Captain Matthew Flinders set sail from Toronto for the Heddle Marine facility in Hamilton .   As an ocean going ship, the Flinders is quite sturdy but at a maximum speed of 8 to 10 knots—the fastest she can sail–the journey took 3- 4 hours.  Among the thousands of Flinders’ notable voyages, it boasts a colorful stint as a casino boat off of West Palm Beach Florida and cruises to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Named after the Australian explorer who was the first to circumnavigate and identify the Australian continent, the Captain Matthew Flinders was built in 1986 in Port Adelaide. The ship joined Mariposa Cruises’ fleet in 1989, making its way from Australia to Toronto, a journey that took four months! (more…)

Get ready for Ugly Christmas Sweater Day!

Christmas, Cocktails and Cruises!

In the past few years, the Ugly Christmas Sweater trend has gone from non-existent to common place. Not only are retired, tattered and worn sweaters found in thrift stores, but they’re now widely available online and in stores, with extravagant additions including light up Christmas trees, wine bottle holders and modern-day slogans.

The industry has soared with the use of social media, having friends battle it out for the most likes, shares and comments. This has led to the ultimate competition of who will find the most sharable, ugly and memorable knit. Will it be you? Mariposa Cruises has made it easy this year by sharing some of our most notable finds

1.Tipsy Elves Women’s Christmas Stocking Tacky Sweater 

Price: $49.95. Can be purchased here

2.Blizzard Bay Men’s Shirtless Santa Ride Ugly Christmas Sweater


Live on the Lake rocks the Toronto Harbour

Toronto’s music scene hit the harbour in July when Mariposa Cruises introduced Live on the Lake to our public cruise program. Featuring performances by great local musicians on select Tuesdays aboard the Oriole, the music nights are similar to our Sip & Sail Cocktail Cruises where guests can take in the sights of Toronto’s skyline and harbour, except that these cruise nights are charged with the energy of live music. (more…)