I just spent Canada Day (which we older types knew as Dominion Day “way back when”) on the Toronto waterfront instead of around airplanes. “Ye Olde CANAV Books Publisher” headed down early on the “501” TTC bus to start off his “CANADA 150” schedule with breakfast at the Radisson Hotel, then on to Toronto Fire Services Station 334, home to the city’s famous fire boat – William Lyon Mackenzie.
The station was open to the public and there was a talk on the program that I didn’t want to miss – Corey Keeble’s story of Toronto’s greatest marine disaster – the burning of the SS Noronic on September 17, 1949. Corey kept us all on the edge of our seats from start to finish.
Then it was back out to carry on with the day getting a good look at a major highlight on Toronto Bay — the giant inflatable “Rubber Ducky”. Regardless of the (usual and predictable) soreheads moaning and groaning about the Rubber Ducky having nothing to do with anything, I’d say that for the hundreds of thousands of Torontonians and out-of-towners enjoying Canada Day here this weekend, we couldn’t have had a better novelty. And there’s no doubt that Rubber Ducky more than paid for itself on Day 1, let alone over the long weekend. Good on ya, Rubber Ducky, but what’s with those yahoos who’d love to let the air out of your rubbers?
Next stop along the way was the tour boat dock, where I bought a ticket for a wonderful cruise along the harbourfront, across to the islands for a zigzag through their lagoons, then finally out into the bay again, and back to the dock. If you ever get a chance, don’t miss out on one of these superb guided tours. This year my boat was the 90-foot Miss Kim Simpson, one of the older Toronto tour boats (I recall when it first appeared back around 1970, having earlier done service in the Netherlands).
One point explained as we wound through the lagoons was the exceptionally high water this season – high enough that the islands still are off limits for the tourist season. This view of Long Pond shows the bleachers still partially awash, and the famed Toronto island ferries remain tied up at the foot of Yonge Street until Lake Ontario settles back to normal.
Once back ashore I, headed east along Queen’s Quay as far as “Sugar Beach” beside the great Redpath sugar refinery – almost the last example of functioning heavy industry on Toronto’s waterfront. Even this far east the waterfront was jammed with locals and tourists having just the finest of Canada Days. The big highlight here was HMCS Toronto, one of the Canadian Navy’s renowned destroyer escorts that have been doing stellar work over the decades on duty in such areas as the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean
By mid-afternoon I had covered the waterfront pretty well, so turned north to the St. Lawrence Market, shooting off a few frames on some of Toronto’s other historic landmarks, the market and famous Gooderham flat iron building included. A couple of beers at the Jersey Giant let me wind down a bit, then I headed back up to Queen Street to catch the “501” eastbound and home.
What a great way to spend Canada Day 2017. And what a country, right. No wonder people are willing to crawl through minefields and cross great waters like the Mediterranean, just in the vague hope of some day reaching Canada to start a new life.
All the best for the rest of the year, eh. I’ll sign off this time with my new pal looming behind … Larry