Lat: 43° 37.950 Long: 079° 22.300
The city of Toronto Ontario is many things - Canada's largest city, Ontario's capital city, the largest city on the Great Lakes, a diverse and vibrant home to 2 1/2 million people and a city that can offer a visiting sailor everything they could imagine. It is one of the most multicultural cities in the world with over 140 languages spoken here. It is also ranked as the safest large metropolitan area in North America.
Much of the harbour area of city of Toronto Ontario is parkland. The Toronto Islands that create the southern boundary of the harbour are a car-free, absolutely lovely expanse of parks, beaches and waterfront harbours. The Eastern Gap spit that forms the eastern boundary of the harbour is parkland as well.
Toronto Harbour though is much more than simply the 'Inner Harbour' that is bounded by the shoreline and the Islands. In fact, across Toronto's approximately 40 nm of waterfront are 7 individual harbours, all with interesting characters that make them unique.
From east to west, they are Bluffers Park (see separate report), Ashbridges Bay (see separate report), Toronto Outer harbour, Toronto Inner Harbour, Ontario Place, Humber Bay and Col. Sam Smith Park. Each will be discussed individually as well as cross-referenced where appropriate.
The Inner Harbour is a large, well-sheltered natural harbour, sheltered from Lake Ontario's storms by the Toronto Islands. Toronto Inner Harbour is both a mecca for recreational boaters as well as a busy commercial harbour with ships from up and down the lakes as well as ocean freighters passing through.
Most industrial activity takes place at the eastern end of the harbour. Commercial and retail venues dominate the centre of the shoreline while recreation is the focus of activity heading west out into Humber Bay. The Toronto Islands are mostly parkland with a small pocket of long-term residents. Billy Bishop Airport occupies the west end at Hanlon's Point.
Within the bounds of Toronto's Inner Harbour lies a fabulous city to discover. On the city side of the harbour are several excellent yacht clubs and marinas. The island side also has several first-rate yacht clubs and an excellent marina.
The core area of the Toronto waterfront is Toronto Inner Harbour and its here we will begin.
FROM THE EAST
As you approach the city of Toronto Ontario from the east, you will see 2 F RED lights marking the headlands of the Outer Harbour East Headland, also known locally as the Leslie Street Spit. West of these lights will be the channel markers for the entrance channel known as the Eastern Gap. These markers are 'T1', a Fl GREEN light and 'T2', a Fl RED light. Resist the urge to cut between the shoreline and these lights. The spit is made of construction debris and there are very shallow areas. More than one vessel has come to grief on these ragged underwater obstructions.
Once inside the Eastern Gap, there is a range visible on a bearing of 002.5oT. As you approach the ISO RED at the head of the range, the main channel forks, with a secondary channel leading to the starboard into the Outer Harbour. The main channel heads northwest into the Inner Harbour. Turn to port and follow the main channel between the breakwater on the starboard and Toronto Island on your port until you enter the Inner Harbour.
Be prepared for a very busy environment. Obey the speed laws [max 5 kt within 150 m of shore / max 10 kt everywhere else] - they are actively enforcd by the Toronto Police Service Marine Unit. Maintain a sharp lookout. The harbour abounds with recreational sail and power vessels, water taxis, ferrys and other commercial vessels.
FROM THE WEST
You enter the city of Toronto Ontario harbour from the west by the Western Gap. Crossing Humber Bay, look for the RED/WHITE Mo(A) 'T' channel marker. Setting up on a course of 052oT will take you right down the channel. This can be a very choppy ride as the channel is quite narrow. Things to watch for are the exclusion zones around the NW corner of the island, the exclusion zone on the NE corner of the island (marking the ends of the runways) and the airport ferry. The exclusion zones are well marked with FL ORANGE lights and Yellow/White buoys. These areas are policed and the fines for violations are very high. The airport ferry is the shortest ferry route in the world at 400 ft/122 m. It crosses the Western Gap near its harbour-side end. It crosses every 15 minutes between 0515 and 2400.
Once clear of the Western Gap, you are in the Inner Harbour and it's yours to explore. As noted above, this is a very busy harbour. Watch your speed and keep a sharp lookout.
MARINAS, YACHT CLUBS, MOORINGS, ANCHORAGES
SHORESIDE EAST to WEST
Harbourfront Centre is a major recreational area that dominates the central part of Toronto's waterfront. Among its features are two marinas - Marina Four and John Quay
Marina Four (416) 203-2620 VHF 68
The entrance to Marina Four is immediately west of the fan-shaped concert stage of Harbourfront Centre. It is marked with Fixed GREEN and RED lights. The marina is spanned by a large, white, elevated walkway lit with WHITE lights. Marina Four has approximately a half dozen transient slips. Space in the marina is tight and a gusty day can make manoeuvring tricky. Marina Four is in the heart of the waterfront entertainment area and so evenings, especially weekends, will see lots of activities.
There is no fuel dock. There is a pumpout station. Water and power are available dockside. There are washrooms, showers and laundry facilities available. Within immediate walking distance are shops, small grocery stores and lots of restaurants and pubs. Internet service is available. A streetcar stops in front of the the marina giving easy access to the rest of the city via public transport.
Adjacent to the west of Marina Four is Pier 4 Restaurant/Pub - with one of my favourite nautical environments. Check out the items and antiques on display throughout the pub.
John Quay (416) 203-2620 VHF 68
John Quay is primarily used by larger (45'+) vessels for overnight stays. The entrance is immediately south of the CN Tower and immediately west of the Toronto Police Service Marine Unit (an 'L' - shaped white-roofed building with a white tower).
John Quay has several transient slips. Short-term docking (max 1 day) can be arranged along the harbour-facing seawall. There is no fuel dock. There is a pump-out station. There are washrooms, showers and laundry facilities. There is internet access. Within immediate walking distance are shops, small grocery stores and lots of restaurants and pubs. Internet service is available. A streetcar stops in front of the the marina giving easy acces to the rest of the city via public transport. Pier 4 restaurant and pub is immediately to the east.
Marina Key West (416) 203-1212 VHF 68
Marina Key West is the most westerly of the three shoreside marinas. When you enter Toronto harbour by the Western Gap, it is immediately on your port. The entrance is at the end of the seawall, marked with Fixed GREEN and RED lights. It is a large marina with 200 slips and approximately 2 dozen transient slips. There is no fuel dock but there is a pump-out station. There are washrooms, showers and laundry facilities. Within immediate walking distance are shops, small grocery stores and lots of restaurants and pubs. Internet sevice is available. A streetcar stops in front of the marina giving easy access to the rest of the city via public transport. There is internet access available.
Alexandra Yacht Club (416) 260-8690
Alexandra Yacht Club is located at the western or outer end of the Western Gap. It is located in a basin behind a long seawall. It shares that basin with both the National Yacht Club and HMCS YORK, the Royal Canadian Navy base.
There are three entrances through the seawall, two of which are lit with very small Flashing GREEN and RED lights. The most westerly entrance is adjacent to Ontario Place and is the best entrance. Once inside, bear to starboard and follow the seawall on your port all the way around the basin. You will pass a large building on your port - this is HMCS YORK. Go right to the eastern wall and turn starboard still following the seawall. When you come to the end turn starboard again and find a place to tie up to the seawall. The clubhouse is on the south seawall facing the Western Gap.
There is no fuel dock. There is a pump-out station. There is water and power at the slips. Washrooms and showers are available in the clubhouse. There is also a galley in the clubhouse. There are picnic and BBQ areas on the grounds. Internet access is available.
National Yacht Club (416) 260-8686 VHF 68
The entrance to the National Yacht Club is the same as for the Alexandria Yacht Club (above).You will arrive at it just before you reach HMCS YORK. The clubhouse is located on the south side of the basin, on the west end of the seawall. NYC has docking and mooring. There is no fuel dock. There is water and power at the dock slips. There are washrooms, showers and laundry facilities. There is internet access available. Amenties include a childrens play area, picnic and BBQ area. NYC has a lovely clubhouse with great views over the water. The dining room and lounge are beautiful. It is a true reciprocal club offering privileges to clubs on the same basis as those offered to their members.
ISLAND-SIDE EAST to WEST
Queen City Yacht Club (416) 203-0929
When you enter via the Eastern Gap, QCYC is the first yacht club you will encounter once in the Inner Harbour. It is located on a lagoon that separates Ward's Island from Algonquin Island. Its entrance is straightforward to find. It lies between Ward's Island ferry dock and a partially sunken barge that creates a breakwater on the west side of the entrance. Make sure that you stay well clear of the ferry dock and keep a sharp lookout for the ferry approaching.
This is a true reciprocal club offering visitors the same privileges members receive. There are several transient slips available. This is no fuel dock. There is water and power at dockside. Washrooms, showers and laundry facilities are available. QCYC has a comfortable clubhouse. The restaurant has superb views of the city across the harbour, especially at night. The grounds and surrounding parkland are lovely and there are lots of areas for walking, picnics, beach visits and exploring. There is a club tender that can take you to harbourfront on the mainland. There is also the Ward's Island ferry a short walk away. QCYC is a very active club and its members are well-known in racing and cruising circles. Its annual Labour Day Pig Roast can attract hundreds of sailors from both sides of the lake. It is a great party!
Royal Canadian Yacht Club (416) 967-7245 VHF 9
The Royal Canadian Yacht Club was founded in 1852 as both a sailing club and as an unofficial Royal Navy auxiliary unit. It received the right to use "Royal" in its name in 1854 and permission from the British Admiralty to use the Blue Ensign in 1878.
There are several transient slips available. There is a fuel dock (diesel and gas) and a pump-out station. There are repair and maintenance services available. There is water and power at the slips. There are washrooms, showers and laundry facilities. Its beautiful clubhouse overlooking the harbour has a casual restaurant for lighter fare and a more formal 2nd floor dining room (dress code). The 2nd floor balcony offers great views of Toronto harbour. The grounds are spacious and, along with adjacent parkland, offer opportunities for walking, picnics, BBQ's and play areas. RCYC has a swimming pool and tennis courts.
Toronto Island Marina (416) 203-1055 VHF 68
This large marina is located on Centre Island, to the west of the Centre Island ferry docks in the north-west corner of Centre Island. This is a full-service marina. There are over 350 slips and approximately 75 set aside for transient sailors. There is a fuel dock (diesel and gasoline) and a pump-out station. Water and power are available at dockside. Repair and maintenance services are available and include engine, electrical, fiberglass, and canvas repairs. Washroom, shaowers and laundry facilities are available. There is a small chandlery and snack bar. Internet access is available. The 2nd floor 'Upper Deck' bar is a terrific place to relax and enjoy the stunning views. Visiting sailors can access downtown Toronto via the Centre Island Ferry or by the marina's own tender.
Surrounded by hundreds of acres of parkland, Toronto Island Marina offers all kinds of opportunities for picnics, quiet strolls, childrens playground areas, BBQ's and more. A few minutes walk from the Marina is Centre Island Amusement Park - an absolute delight for children with its turn-of-the-century ambience, skyway ride overs canals and park areas, farm and much more. I love going there to spend a lazy summer afternoon.
Island Yacht Club (416) 203-0492
West of Centre Island is Mugg's Island and on the west side of Mugg's Island is the Island Yacht Club. There are 185 slips here with approximately a dozen set aside for transient sailors. There is no fuel dock. There is a pump-out station. There is water and power at dockside. There are washrooms, showers and laundry facilities in the clubhouse. The clubhouse also has a lounge, restaurant and a large deck. The grounds have a swimming pool, childrens playground, picnic areas and BBQ grills. There is internet access. The club also has a tender that can take a visiting sailor across to the mainland.
Harbour City Yacht Club
This small yacht club is located within Toronto Island Marina (see above). It has a floating clubhouse and can accomodate 4 transient yachts. Arrangements are made through the Marina office. The club has washrooms and showers, kitchen facilities and a lounge. There is an outdoor deck with BBQ's.
REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE, PROVISIONING, BANKS/ATM's
The city of Toronto Ontario is the largest city in the country, and, as you would expect, every service a sailor could want is available. What follows is a partial list of repair and maintenance facilities.
DAC's Mobile Marine offers a mobile engine, mechanical and electrical repair service throughout the Toronto waterfront area. Repairs services also include air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
EC Marine Equipment Service provides both on-premises and mobile engine and mechanical repair services. This is a full-service marine repair facility with an extensive parts inventory.
Eastern Marine Systems is a full-service repair facility. It also has a well-stocked retail outlet carrying a wide assortment of parts and equipment.
Genco Marine is a large, well-stocked chandlery that has been a fixture in Toronto for over 40 years. They carry a very extensive selection of equipment, clothing, electronic and maintenance supplies. Genco also has a full-service sail loft located in Port Credit, about 10 nm west of Toronto harbour.
Fogh Marine is another large, well-established chandlery. They are located on the west side of Toronto, minutes north (by car) from Humber Bay. They carry a wide range of equipment and supplies. They also sell dingies, kayaks and small watercraft. Their sister store is Mason's, (also known as 'The Store') - the largest chandlery on Lake Ontario. Between these two chandleries, their inventory runs into the thousands of items. If you need it, they likely have it.
Holland Marine carries a wide selection of equipment and also offers full rigging services. It is located north-west of the harbour and would require a taxi ride.
UK Halsey Sailmakers is a full-service sail loft located east of the downtown core. Part of UK Sailmakers world-wide group of sail lofts, they can provide a full range of design and maufacturing expertise and service. They also carry out repairs and recuts. An interesting side note is that they collect and donate used sails to fishermen in Haiti. A classic example of sailors lending a helping hand to fellow sailors.
Hurricane Canvas & Sails is actually located on a barge named 'Bobbin' and operates a 6,000 sq ft, full-service sail loft. They make and repair all kinds of sails and related canvas products. You can bring your boat to 'Bobbin' for service work. They also offer an emergency repair service.
Island Canvas is a full-service canvas repair shop. Mobile and emergency repair services are available.
Nautical Mind Bookstore is located a 1/2 block from the Toronto Police Service Marine Unit. The Natical Mind is the finest nautical bookstore - anywhere! It has the widest selection you will ever find - from cruising guides, chartbooks, and nautical books to RYA course materials. They sell DVD's and have a DVD lending library as well. They run a fully on-line business also. If its not in inventory, they can get it - or it doesn't exist. The customer service is outstanding. Personally, it is one of my favourite stops when I am down along the waterfront.
Puddle Duck Trading is based in the Outer Harbour. They provide engine, electrical, and mechanical repair services. Emergency services are available. A small retail outlet stocks basic maintenance and cleaning supplies.
Toronto Island Marina is the only full-service marina and maintenance facility on the Toronto Islands. It offers full engine, mechanical, electrical and fiberglass repairs. It has a mobile service and mechanics can be available on weekends.
West Marine operates a huge retail outlet close to the waterfront. As you would expect from West Marine, it stocks virtually everything a sailor may need and what it doesn't have in stock, it can readily obtain.
Provisioning is easy in Toronto. Across the waterfront, there are many places where you can replenish supplies. There are large supermarkets downtown, along the Inner Harbour and also out near the Outer Harbour. Look for either Loblaws or Sobeys if you want a large supermarket with deli, bakery, fresh fish, wine and bulk foods.
Many other food outlets dot the waterfront, from smaller markets such as Rabba Fine Foods to smaller grocery stores and specialty food shops.
If you love 'fresh', you have to visit the St. Lawrence Market, named by National Geographic as the best food market in the world. It is located about a 15-20 minute walk from the waterfront (but still definitely in the downtown core). In continuous operation since 1803, St. Lawrence Market is a multi-cultural feast. It carries an incredible array of food products, meats, fish and produce ranging from locally grown vegetables to cheeses from mountain pastures in Spain. It has deli's and bakeries and food counters inside as well as a neat little pub (Paddingtons). Its worth the visit just for the atmosphere alone!
Banks and ATM's can be found everywhere in Toronto. All major banks can be found a few block north of the waterfront and ATM's are everywhere.
The City of Toronto Ontario has outstanding hospitals and several are located in the downtown core. St. Michael's Hospital (416-360-4000), an outstanding medical centre, is the closest to the waterfront.
There are pharmacies across the city. The two on the waterfront are Shoppers Drug Mart (416-260-2766) and Harbourfront Pharmacy (416-977-1010).
PLACES TO EAT
The City of Toronto Ontario is recognized as one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, with over 140 languages spoken across the city. Nowhere is that expressed more colourfully than in the vibrant restaurant scene in Toronto.
Literally, there is something for everyone's palate and wallet. I have often said that one could travel around the world just by visiting Toronto's restaurants. It would be impossible to list all of the restaurants and pub options available. Whole guide books, magazines and newspaper sections are devoted just to that. However, what follows is a sampling of the incredible dining options open to a visiting sailor.
At or Near the Waterfront
All along the waterfront, but especially centred around Harbourfront Centre, are cafes, restaurants and pubs that share a common element - great views of the harbour and lots of opportunities to people-watch.
At Queen's Quay, a shopping and performing arts venue, is the Watermark. This Irish pub has a varied menu and a great patio along the seawall. Next door is Il Fornello and its related restaurant, Lusso offering a variety of Italian selections. Again, the same terrific view.
Further west, is Pier 4 Steakhouse. This is a nautical-themed pub with a varied menu. Any sailor will be delighted with the decor as the walls are covered with sailing and Great Lakes memorabilia. I never tire of wandering around looking at the items, especially the models of early sailing ships. Spice Thai is across the street from Pier 4 and popular with sailors and locals alike. Guirei is located on Queen's Quay, near Marina Four. Porticelli, located near the west end of the waterfront, specializes in Italian food.
At the east end of the waterfront, you will find Cabana, part of the Polson Pier entertainment complex. It has a 150 seat patio overlooking the Eastern Gap. There is a poolside BBQ, mini golf and beach volleyball too. Keating Channel Pub is a large, comfortable pub located along the Keating Channel, just north of the Eastern Gap (near the corner of Lakeshore Blvd and Cherry St.). Its 250 seat shaded patio offers great views of the waterfront and city skyline.
Notable Restaurant Districts in Toronto
Venturing a bit further afield from the harbour, a visiting sailor can find a fabulous selection of unique and interesting dining experiences. Ask a taxi driver to take you to:
Located along Danforth Avenue, all kinds of terrific Greek restaurants compete for your attention. Toronto has the 3rd largest Greek community outside of Greece and on some warm summer evenings, it seems like they are all out here enjoying great food, wines and music at places like Ouzeri,Christina's, and Megas to name a few. If you are here in early August, take in the Taste of the Danforth, Canada's largest street festival and a celebration of all things Greek.
Located along College Street, this area was settled by Italian immigrants in the early-to-mid 20th century. In this compact neighbourhood, there are over 200 restaurants, pubs and cafes! There is also a sprinkling of Portugal and Brazil here here as well, adding their flavours to this vibrant area. For great coffee, you can't beat Cafe Diplomatico. La Forchetta offers excellent, authentic Italian cuisine complimented by an award-winning wine list. Chiado is one of my favourites with an old-world dining room feel, outstanding, authentic Portuguese cuisine and a fabulous wine cellar. Pricey but worth the experience - maybe as a reward for a cruise to Toronto.
Chinese (such as Mandarin, Szechuan and Cantonese) as well as Vietnamese restaurants are plentiful in this area, one of North America's largest Chinese communities. For authentic Chinese cuisine, check out places such as the venerable Lee Gardens, Roi San, and E-Pan.
I couldn't overlook what I consider to be the very best Spanish restaurant in all of Toronto - Segovia. Located right downtown, on a side street near Wellesley and Yonge St., this small, intimate restaurant offers outstanding wines imported from Spain and a savoury, authentically Spanish menu. The chef/owner, Ino, makes the best paella I have ever tasted.
THINGS TO DO/SEE/VISIT
There is so much happening throughout the city of Toronto Ontario that the challenge is sorting out exactly what you want to experience.
Harbourfront Centre, located right in the heart of the waterfront, is an easy choice for a visiting sailor. If offers a wide selection of music, dance, theatre and visual arts. Concerts are held in the ourdoor theatre every weekend. As well, many different festivals are hosted here and Canada Day (July 1) is certainly the largest.
A bit west of Harbourfront is the Toronto Music Garden. This Garden is a visual interpretation of Bach's Suite #1 in G Major. The great Yo Yo Ma collaborated in its design. Most Thurdays and Sundays there are free classical music concerts, a 12-year tradition.
Toronto is blessed with a number of terrific museums and galleries such as the ROM - Royal Ontario Museum, the AGO - Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Ontario Science Centre.
Toronto festivals include the Toronto Jazz Festival (late June), Canada Day (July 1), Toronto Grand Prix (July), Taste of the Danforth (early August), Caribana (early August), International Art Show, Labour Day weekend and the CNE - Canadian National Exhibition which runs from mid-August to Labour Day weekend.
These are all world-class festivals that draw visitors from across Canada, the United States and many other countries. Simply put, there is something fun and exciting happening somewhere on the Toronto waterfront all through the summer months.
Walk up Yonge Street, Toronto's main north-south street. As it takes you into the heart of the shopping district, you will also be on the beginning blocks of the longest street in the world as it runs north and west 1,178 mi/1,896 km to the Ontario/Manitoba border. As well as individual shops and boutiques, the Eaton Centre has hundreds of shops. Toronto also has an extensive underground walkway system that criss-crosses the downtown, known as the PATH system. Used by thousands of locals and tourists alike, the PATH system extends 17 mi/28 km and has over 1,000 shops.
As I mentioned, there is a huge amount of things to do and see in Toronto. A quick look at Toronto's extensive City of Toronto Ontario tourism site will give you many ideas on getting the most of your visit.
See Ashbridges Bay
See Bluffers Park
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