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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Doors Open on Toronto's waterfront, May 25, 26, features police marine unit and fire boat

William Lyon Mackenzie Fireboat (Photo credit Terry O'Neill)
TORONTODoors Open on Toronto’s Waterfront presented by The Waterfront BIA is part of the 14th Annual Doors Open Toronto presented by Great Gulf Homes, produced by the City of Toronto on May 25 and 26.

New this year, tour the Toronto Police Marine Unit, and the William Lyon Mackenzie Fire Boat at the Toronto Fire and Marine Station 334.

The Toronto Harbor Commission building will be open to the public and Queen’s Quay Terminal will feature Toronto on the Water, a free exhibit of archival photographs showcasing the history of Toronto’s waterfront.  Vessels from Great Lakes Schooner Company, Jubilee Cruise Lines, Mariposa Cruises, Nautical Adventures and Toronto Brigantine will be open to the public for FREE deck tours. Visit www.waterfrontbia.com for more information.

Heading into its 14th year, Doors Open Toronto features more than 135 architecturally, historically, culturally and socially significant buildings that highlight the amazingly diverse, skilled and talented people and organizations that make Toronto a city of "Creators, Makers and Innovators!"  Toronto was the first North American city to launch a Doors Open event and has attracted more than two million visitors since it began.   Visit www.toronto.ca/doorsopen for more information.

“Toronto’s Waterfront has played an important role in the city’s development,” states Carol Jolly, Executive Director, The Waterfront BIA.  “Through Doors Open on Toronto’s Waterfront, visitors can see and experience the excitement of the Waterfront. Tour the Toronto Police Marine Unit, the William Lyon MacKenzie Fireboat at the Toronto Fire and Marine Station and the 15 ships docked along the water’s edge. Take an historical journey of Toronto on the Water through a unique photo exhibit in Queen’s Quay Terminal featuring over 100 archival images.” 

Special thanks to the Toronto Port Authority and Queen’s Quay Terminal for their partnership in Doors Open on Toronto’s Waterfront.


Doors Open on Toronto’s Waterfront offers the public a unique opportunity to tour the Toronto Police Marine Unit (259 Queens Quay West) and see the 16 vessel fleet that is used in various rescue and response calls on Toronto’s many waterways.

The fleet’s largest boat weighs 15 tonnes and can be used as a command post or by divers because of its easily lowered tailgate. The next largest vessel is a mass disaster boat suitable for rough water conditions and major calls involving multiple victims such as plane crashes. This vessel has four life rafts at its rear, each of which can hold 75 people.
The fleet also includes four rigid hull inflatable boats, three small life guard vessels, two personal watercrafts which are used in smaller and shallower areas as needed, a large all-purpose, four diesel-powered aluminum hike boat which is often used for search and rescue operations to pump water out of sinking boats or extinguish boat fires and a circa 1939 mahogany vessel designed especially for use in Lake Ontario. This "VIP" boat, the last remaining of its kind once used by the old Toronto Harbour Police, is still used today to transport dignitaries on the lake for special occasions.

The Toronto Police Marine Unit staffs 38 Constables, 9 Sergeants, 2 Staff Sergeants, 1 Unit Commander, 4 Mechanics, 2 Crew Hands, and 1 Civilian, totalling 57 personnel and is the largest command, encompassing approximately 460 square miles of open water on Lake Ontario from the Etobicoke creek (Peel Region) to Rouge River (Durham Region) and extending 13 nautical miles to the US/Canada border. The Toronto Police Marine Unit is responsible for all waterways within Toronto and has 3 sub-stations located at Bluffers Park, Centre Island and Humber Bay Park, which all are used for police and lifeguard functions.


Named for Toronto’s first mayor, the William Lyon Mackenzie Fireboat was built in 1964 by Russel Brothers Shipyard in Owen Sound, Ontario to provide marine fire protection, search and rescue on Lake Ontario, as well as ice breaking capabilities for Toronto’s ferries and the Islands. The Fireboat is docked at Toronto Fire & Marine Station 334 (339 Queen’s Quay West) and operates 12 months a year.

The Fireboat is 24 metres long and weighs approximately 150 tonnes with a Caterpillar Diesel engine producing 3,000 horsepower to achieve a top speed of 22 kilometres per hour. The vessel has a modified Tugboat hull and five tonne crane as well as five water nozzles that can pump 50,000 litres of water a minute. The vessel is also equipped with radar, echo sounder, radio and daytime accommodation for the off-duty shift. In 2004, the vessel completed a $1 million refurbishment that will extend the in-service life by approximately 30 years. 


Visitors to Queen’s Quay Terminal can trace the visually stunning waterfront history through Toronto on the Water, a photo exhibit that features over 100 archival images on loan courtesy of Toronto Star Archives, Toronto Port Authority, City of Toronto Archives and Queen’s Quay Terminal. The exhibit will launch at Doors Open Toronto and will remain on display throughout the main level of Queen’s Quay Terminal until Labour Day.  Admission is FREE.

Relive memories of Toronto’s vibrant waterfront at Toronto on the Water.  See images of ferries docked in Toronto Harbour (1910, Toronto Star Archives); Sunnyside Amusement Park was a popular summertime attraction until 1955 when it was demolished to make way for the Gardiner Expressway (c.1925, Toronto Star Archives); Centre Island's Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, built 136 years ago at what was then the water's edge, is the city's oldest stone building and the oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes, sand buildup over time has set it back about 100 metres inland. (1945, Toronto Star Archives); Toronto Island firefighters (1946, Toronto Star Archives) and the flying boat, the Santa Maria, of the U.S. and Cuban mail service, with the Toronto Harbour Commission building in the background (1921, Toronto Port Authority).

Toronto’s rich history comes alive before your eyes at Toronto on the Water!

Queen’s Quay Terminal was originally a cold storage warehouse facility.  The Terminal Warehouse, built in 1926 by Moores and Dunford (NYC) was later converted to a condo/mall complex in 1983.  The Terminal Warehouse was the first poured concrete building in Canada and one of the largest buildings in the country.  The project architects, Zeidler Roberts Associates of Toronto were respectful of the essential design character of the building and its references to Art Deco were carefully maintained during all the alterations.  The New York Times called it an example of successful revitalization efforts in Toronto during the 1980’s.


Designed as the Toronto Harbor Commissioners headquarters and occupied by its successor, the Toronto Port Authority, the Toronto Harbor Commission building is a fine example of Beaux-Arts Classicist architecture. The building was started in 1917 and completed in 1918. The spandrels are all embossed with "1917" on the building's exterior, however. The building is constructed of concrete and faced primarily with Indiana limestone, with Queenston limestone around the bottom. It was designed by noted Toronto architect Alfred Chapman and built out into the harbour before infill later moved the water’s edge several hundred metres south.  It is noted for its exterior details, such as Corinthian columns and spandrels, as well as its beautiful, original walnut-paneled boardroom and marbled entranceway. The Toronto Harbor Commission building is open to the public on Saturday only.


The charter boat business is one of the main tourism attractions at the Toronto Waterfront and has a rich history. The  15 participating ships will open their doors (and their gangways!) for FREE public dockside tours. The ships along the dock walls will be open for viewing from 10am to 5pm, subject to availability. 

Great Lakes Schooner Company Fleet:

Great Lakes Schooner Company fleet includes Challenge, Kajama, and Obsession III.

Challenge is a stunning 96-foot, three mast clipper schooner modeled after the original 1852 ship built in Cleveland, Ohio, and was constructed as a school vessel in 1980 by the Kanter Yacht Company in Port Stanley, Ontario.
She sailed from 1980 to 1982 as a passenger vessel on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and also in the Virgin Islands before being refitted in 1984 by her original builders.  Carefully preserving the traditions and designs of the past, her seven sails are set in the unique tradition of a Grand Banks Schooner, with her three masts of equal height, all stepped on the deck at different levels.

Kajama, an historic 165-foot three-masted gaff-rigged schooner, was originally launched in Rendsburg, Germany as the Wilfrid in 1930, and has undergone an ambitious restoration that has returned the ship to her former glory.  Familiar in ports from Northwestern Spain, through Western Europe, and as far north as Norway and Russia, Kajama had a long and successful career as a cargo carrying sailing ship.  She represents one of the few remaining and highly successful Nobiskrug coastal trading schooners known for their efficiency and profitability. Kajama boasts over 7,000 square feet of sail, a large unobstructed deck, and a grand staircase leading to the below deck dining room. 

Obsession III is a 78-foot motor yacht. She has been on Toronto’s waterfront since 1993 after she went through a complete rebuild from the former vessel M.V Mystique. Mystique was originally built in 1967 in New Orleans by Halter Marine Services. Obsession III is now located on Toronto’s waterfront.  One of the most talked about features on Obsession III is her fully retractable roof.

Jubilee Cruise Lines Fleet:

Jubilee Cruise Lines fleet includes the Jubilee Queen and the Ste. Marie.

Launched in 1986, the Jubilee Queen is Canada's largest river showboat and is a replica of a luxury sternwheeler that sailed the waters in centuries past. The Jubilee Queen was built in New Brunswick and sailed into Toronto in 1988 via the Hudson River canal systems. At 110 feet and over 269 tonnes she has provided smooth sailing along the Toronto skyline for more than 500,000 passengers.  The newly renovated open air dance floor is one of the largest that you'll find on any of the Toronto ships. Dance the night away or just enjoy unparallel views of the Toronto Skyline and Island channels. 
The Ste. Marie was initially built as a small fishing vessel operating out of Sault Sainte Marie. Her keel was laid in 1964 with registration in Midland, Ontario, operating in the fishing industry until refit as a tour boat in 1986. The Ste. Marie was relocated to the Toronto waterfront in 1994 following modifications that lengthened the boat by 25 feet. A second floor open observation deck was built to permit fabulous unrestricted viewing while providing shelter from sun or rain. With her open bow and upper observation deck, along with her cozy interior forward cabin, she has become a very popular tour and small group charter vessel.

Mariposa Cruises Fleet:

Established in 1987 with the purchase of the Mariposa Belle, Mariposa Cruises’ fleet now includes seven cruise ships situated in the Toronto Harbourfront: Captain Matthew Flinders, Klancy II, Mariposa Belle, Northern Spirit, Oriole, Rosemary and Showboat.

The Captain Matthew Flinders is the flagship of the Mariposa fleet. Built in 1984 in Port Adelaide, Australia, the 144-foot luxury ship arrived in Toronto in 1989 and boasts the largest passenger capacity (575 people) in Toronto. The ship is named after famous navigator Captain Matthew Flinders (1774-1814), and in 1995, it sailed to Florida and operated as a floating casino. Since returning to Toronto, the ship has been outfitted with new engines and was fully renovated in 2011. The Flinders has hosted a wide range of events including Mayors from Around the World, the NBA Draft Pick, the All-Star Baseball Legends; it also welcomed The Stanley Cup aboard for Detroit Red Winger Chris Draper’s celebration in 2008. Over 25 years many celebrities, athletes and musicians have enjoyed the Flinders – Arnold Palmer even hit golf balls off the outer deck!

Built in St. Thomas in 1989 and cruising in Toronto since, the Klancy II joined the Mariposa Cruises fleet in 2011. The Klancy II holds up to 100 passengers and has hosted a wide variety of VIP events over the years, including the Rotary Club convention bid team, when it played a part in Toronto securing the bid to host the convention.

The company’s namesake, the Mariposa Belle, was built in 1970 in Wheatley, Ontario and is an icon in the Toronto harbour. It was one of the very first charter boats to operate in Toronto. With her unique promenade decks, this 68-foot riverboat-style paddle wheeler has hosted thousands of events throughout her colourful history, including a recent event for all of the Miss Teen Canada contestants. The Mariposa Belle is also an integral part of the Education Afloat program for many Toronto school children.

The Northern Spirit was built in 1983 in Warren, Rhode Island, and was formerly named the Pride of Norfolk and the Pride of Toronto. The 138-foot ship joined Mariposa Cruises’ fleet in 1994 after an extensive renovation. Like the Flinders, the Northern Spirit has the largest passenger capacity in Toronto and is Transport Canada-approved for 575 passengers. The Northern Spirit has hosted many notable events and musical acts during its years in Toronto. With its bright and spacious interior, it remains one of the most popular boats in Toronto for hosting larger groups.

Built in 1987 in Port Dover, Ontario, the Oriole is a replica of a Victorian era steamship (circa 1880-1920), with a rich oak interior, wrought iron detail and unique design. The Oriole is used for Mariposa Cruises’ popular Harbour Tours and can host 184 passengers. The Oriole has its own celebrity status, having been featured in a fictional period painting by Ray Davidson entitled, "The Medora at Port Carling Locks.” She also recently appeared on CBC’s Redemption Inc. and hosted Mila Mulroney, Nancy Reagan and the wives of G7 attendees for a private afternoon charter.

One of Mariposa Cruises’ vessels, the Rosemary is the true southern belle of the fleet. Built in Mobile, Alabama in 1960, the Rosemary is 62-feet of style and sophistication and was completely renovated in 2008. The Rosemary has modern furnishings and still maintains her former corporate yacht appeal. A long list of celebrities has cruised aboard, including Angelica Houston, Sam Neill, Cicely Tyson, Marylou Henner and Gregory Hines.

The Showboat Royal Grace, or Showboat as she is now called, is a petite version of the grand riverboats that sailed along North America's inland waterways in the 1800s. Built in 1988 in Port Colborne, Ontario, The Showboat was purchased by Mariposa Cruises in 1993. Completely renovated in 2013, where among other improvements, twelve feet of length was added to the centre of the ship. Not only is the boat larger, but it also increases her passenger capacity from 75 to 149. The new and improved Showboat will continue to be one of Mariposa’s most popular boats because of its charm and onboard comforts.

Nautical Adventures - Empire Sandy:

The Tall Ship Empire Sandy is an historical treasure on Toronto's Waterfront.   She was built in England as an Englishman/Larch class deep sea tugboat and went into service in July 1943.  She sailed on war duty in the Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and the English Channel.  In 1982, a metamorphous was complete changing a WWII tugboat to a grand 1800 style Tall Ship.  As a Tall Ship she has sailed in all the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway, Boston, New York, Bermuda, Bahamas, Cuba and other Caribbean seas. At 200 feet overall, 11,000 square feet of sail and 740 tonnes, Toronto's largest sailing ship the Empire Sandy offers a unique experience with an historical flare. 

Toronto Brigantine Tall Ships Fleet:

Toronto Brigantine has been a charitable organization since 1962. Their founding tenets were the development of leadership, discipline, and citizenship. They operate two brigantines, the 22m (72′) sail-training vessel (STV) Pathfinder, which was commissioned in 1964, and the training ship (TS) Playfair, which was built in 1972, named in 1973 by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. Both were built as training vessels by Francis A. McLachlan in Kingston, Ontario. Each year the ships sail over 4,000 miles, spend over 40 nights at sea, and introduce 300 trainees to the tall ship experience.

About Doors Open Toronto:
Doors Open Toronto has attracted more than two million visitors since it began. Toronto was the first North American city to launch a Doors Open event and has advised similar programs like Doors Open Ontario and Open House New York. Doors Open Toronto is presented by Great Gulf Homes, produced by the City of Toronto. Media sponsors: Toronto Star, Citytv and OMNI Television. Please visit www.toronto.ca/doorsopen/ to see the roster of buildings.

About The Waterfront BIA:
A stone's throw from Toronto's downtown and financial core, The Waterfront BIA encompasses the exciting heart of the City's central waterfront with Lake Ontario and the Toronto Islands forming a spectacular backdrop for the area's countless attractions. Stay in one of our relaxing hotels, The Westin Harbour Castle or Radisson Admiral Hotel, take in a dynamic theatrical performance, wander through our galleries and studios or attend one of the vibrant cultural festivals year-round. Stroll Queen’s Quay Terminal and visit our many unique shops, then enjoy a delicious dinner at one of our fabulous restaurants. Looking for recreation? Play in the parks, stroll the revitalized promenades, skate on the outdoor rink, rent a bicycle, canoe, kayak, sailboat or power boat. Indulge in a cruise on one of our fine charter vessels and enjoy Toronto's spectacular city skyline from the water. There is no end to the activity on the Waterfront!

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