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For the three days of Canada Day weekend (July 1-3) the Toronto harbour front hosted a number of boats associated with the Tall Ships America Challenge, an annual celebration of sailing vessels from the pre-Industrial Age. Each year the venues rotate from ports in one of the following regions – the Pacific coast, the Atlantic coast, or the Great Lakes. In 2016 it was the turn of the Great Lakes region to host the ships. The map below shows this year’s ports of call.
I cycled down to the waterfront from the east end of the Martin Goodman Trail early on a blue sky Sunday morning. I was keen on getting some photos of three of the main ships before the crowds started arriving. It would be their last day here before they sailed on to their next port.
The ships were on display at HTO Park, just a bit west of the Harbourfront Centre.
Toronto Harbour is on the southern edge of downtown and is sheltered from Lake Ontario by the Islands and to the east by the Leslie Street Spit. At the western end of the harbour is the increasingly busy Billy Bishop Airport. In the pix below the CN Tower and the Rogers Center, the home of the Blue Jays, are visible, as are some of the many condo towers that have popped up in the past decade or two.
I got there at 8:45 and as the pix above show, there were not too many people around yet. I figured I’d get a few side shots of the ships, pick up my entry ticket at 9:30 and get in line for the first of them – the Viking longship Draken Harald Härfagre.
Next to the waterfront where the Tall Ships were on display is a boat rental area, still fairly quiet when I arrived. A couple of hours later it was a different story! In the photo above are a couple of replicas of the canot du nord, a staple of the fur trade in the 1700’s; also visible is the back end of the Viking longship I had come to see. It had sailed from Norway in early May and, having retraced the path that the Viking explorers took 1000 years ago to reach Newfoundland, it was sitting here!
The above photo shows two sculptures depicting Huginn and Muginn, two birds from Norse myth who roam the world and bring information back to the revered god Óðinn (the Anglo-Saxon Woden).
For particulars on the 115′ long Viking longship, see here. The boat, named the Draken Harald Harfagre (Dragon Harald Fairhair), also has a Wikipedia entry (here) that provides its history and its sailing route.
Next to the longship was a full-scale reconstruction of a Spanish galleon, El Galeón. While the Viking ship had one simple square sail, the Spanish vessel was an elaborate, multi-decked ship with three masts and hectares of sail! Lineups to get on board the ships were long. I waited a half hour to be among the first group of 15 to board the Viking ship and then spent another 45 minutes in the lineup for El Galeón.
Seeing these ships sitting at rest with their sails down is like looking at the skeletons of beautifully proportioned models and knowing there is way more to them! Here are some web-sourced photos of the ships in all their glory with their sails billowing in the wind.
See here for the story of El Galeón.
The story and details of the Pride of Baltimore – I and II – are provided in this Wikipedia article. (See here.)
Walking around with a camera in the town I live in is something I should do more often! I spent an enjoyable morning seeing some incredible ships and taking in the lively vibe of a Toronto waterfront that has changed dramatically for the better over the past forty years that I have lived nearby and walked and cycled its paths.
I was not born in Toronto but ended up here after teacher’s college and my first teaching job. In a country where Toronto is often the butt of jokes – and occasional target of downright contempt – by Canadians in other towns and provinces, I used to say things like – “I’m from Toronto…but I wasn’t born there” as if that would earn me a measure of acceptance! The day I stopped bothering to apologize was the day I knew I really was from T.O.! And on mornings like this sunny one on the harbourfront, I have to think – this is one great city to be a part of! I’m lucky to have made it my home.
Another Toronto-related Post: Checking Out Downtown Toronto’s Street Art