|Toronto World-Class Port of Call|
By Justin Hoffman
Toronto has been home to Europeans for 175 years, since its incorporation as the City of Toronto in 1834. The French have been coming to the area since the middle of the 18th century, when they set up a fur trading post. Located on the northern shores of Lake Ontario, the city has grown into arguably the lake’s most exciting port of call.
Today Toronto is home to the tallest structure in North America, the CN Tower, many festivals, cultural places and events, a host of major sports teams and thousands of boats. Visiting boaters often dock at the Harbourfront Centre, where the Marina Quay West and John Quay offering mooring, but there are many other marinas offering slip rentals. Ships of all sizes, from dinghies to trawlers to cruisers to mega yachts, can find a place to dock in Toronto’s Inner Harbour, next to the city’s inviting downtown.
Toronto can be accessed by boat year-round, even during the frigid months of winter, because of Lake Ontario, which has only frozen over twice in recorded history. So don’t let the waning of summer make this destination seem like one that should wait until the next boating season. The lake-effect weather also keeps the city warm, by comparison to other ports on Lake Ontario, during the winter with highs in the low 30s. Summer weather is also cooler by the same token, reaching average highs of about 80 degrees.
Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world, with about half of its population being born outside of Canada, and has a cultural scene that is as diverse as its population. Several major metropolitan attractions include the Royal Ontario Museum, which is a major museum of world culture and natural history; the Toronto Zoo, where more than 5,000 animals are on display; and the Art Gallery of Ontario, which contains artwork from around the world. For those with children, the Ontario Science Centre has hands-on activities and displays to engage kids in science.
While you’re visiting you won’t need to rent a car. The city has a large and efficient transit system that makes traveling around the city easy. The downtown is well within walking distance of the marinas and has so much to offer you may not even get beyond this area in your first visit.
The city enjoys the water of Lake Ontario so much it has been slowly expanding into the lake. The Toronto Harbour Commission has been adding to the city’s waterfront for nearly one hundred years by creating parks, recreational areas, creative centers, residences and commercial properties. There are also future plans to add more land to the shoreline and to continue development for both residents and tourists to enjoy.
The shores of Toronto offer many water-related activities, and a host of shopping and recreational sites present a very inviting destination for transient boaters. On the water is the Queen’s Quay Terminal, a building built in 1926 for cold storage that has been converted into an Art Deco mall and condo complex. The Premiere Dance Theatre and Museum of Inuit Art are also in the building. Boat tours and cruises are available along the lakefront, highlighting the best of Toronto for visitors.
The waters of Lake Ontario are also perfect for deep-water fishing. If you don’t have your own gear or boat, you’ll find many fishing charters to choose from along the harbor. In an afternoon, you could master the art of reeling in a 25-pound king salmon or fight with a 15-pound brown trout.
For those who want to get away from the bustle of the city, ferries run out to Toronto Islands from the Inner Harbour. The islands are the largest urban car-free community in North America, although some service vehicles are permitted. Getting around is easy by foot or bicycle on the many trails that dissect the islands. Bicycles are welcome on the ferries. If you didn’t bring yours, bicycles and canoes are available for rent.