From industrial port to metropolis, Toronto’s harbour has come a long way.
If you haven’t visited Toronto’s Harbourfront in over a year, you’re in for a surprise. An extensive three year revitalization project (completed in June 2015) has transformed Toronto’s waterfront. Queen’s Quay West is now completely accessible by car, public transit, on foot or by bicycle, with lots of great public places to frequent and enjoy. Tourism is also up this year: Big events, a low Canadian dollar and really great weather have all contributed to an increase in visitors.
If you spend a day on Toronto’s waterfront, you’ll notice a multitude of activity on the lake. Planes are flying to and from Billy Bishop airport. People are hanging out at the many cafes and restaurants that line the waterfront. Something is always going on–concerts, festivals, live performances, open-air markets. All sorts of boats (ours included) are making their way across the lake–the Toronto Island ferry, water taxis, kayaks, canoes, yachts and sailboats of all sizes.
Busy, city-weary Torontonians tend to forget there’s a lake in their own backyard. A city escape does not require fighting the crowds and the traffic. If you’re willing to be a tourist for a day ,you can leave the city. It’s so easy to simply board a vessel with Mariposa Cruises from Pier 6 and sail away right from the downtown core.
This summer, plan a staycation, or if you’re hosting visitors, they can experience a Scenic Harbour Tour in four languages. Mariposa Cruises launched an enhanced 45 minute Harbour Tour program this season on the Oriole, featuring GPS- triggered audio narrations in English, French, Spanish and Mandarin—the only one of its kind on the Harbour. The narrations offer an interactive experience, and touch on topics ranging from Toronto’s history, neighborhoods, life on the Island, recreational activities, nature and culture.
The sites along the harbour include the CN Tower, Billy Bishop airport, Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre, Hanlan’s Point, the island parklands, the water treatment plant, the fabled Gibraltar Point Lighthouse and Harbourfront Centre, to name only a few. Once you sail into the lagoon and around the Toronto Island parklands, it’s like being instantly transported to someplace else. In just a few minutes you’ve left the urban sprawl behind for tranquil, open spaces, and it feels a lot like cottage country.
The Harbour Tour on the Oriole is complemented by an historical waterfront slideshow displayed on a TV screen, providing a marked contrast between the present skyline and the waterfront’s humble beginnings as an industrial port.
But the single most awe-inspiring sight on the tour is the view of Toronto’s skyline from the lake. Today you can still see the ocean vessels that come to deliver and pick up goods. The industries they service continue to stand on the shoreline, but now they’re interspersed with skyscrapers, new condo towers, marinas, boardwalks, shops, and restaurants.
For the past 29 years, Mariposa Cruises has had the pleasure of hosting millions of guests from around the world. The view of the skyline never fails to impress our passengers, whether they are seeing it for the first time, or experiencing their hometown from a brand new vantage point.
Our 45-minute Scenic Harbour Tours are offered daily from mid-May to September, departing every hour from 12 pm to 4pm. In addition, we offer Public Cruises ranging from Scenic Dining (lunch, brunch or dinner) to Special Event Cruises and Sip & Sail cruises. All six vessels in our fleet are available for private charter.