Visit Gangways Open on Toronto’s Waterfront at Doors Open Toronto

image002Fun for the entire family, Gangways Open on Toronto’s Waterfront presented by The Waterfront BIA, is part of the 17th annual Doors Open Toronto presented by Great Gulf, on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29 from 10am until 6pm along the Waterfront. This year’s Doors Open Toronto 2016 theme is Re-used, Re-visited and Revised and explores the adaptive re-use of buildings throughout Toronto’s architectural history. Visit for more information about Gangways Open on Toronto’s Waterfront, or for more information about Doors Open Toronto.

“Through Gangways Open on Toronto’s Waterfront, visitors can see and experience the excitement of the Waterfront,” states Carol Jolly, Executive Director, The Waterfront BIA. “Tour the numerous ships docked along the water’s edge, browse through the carefully curated Waterfront Artisan Market, enjoy some tasty treats at Spring Samplings and learn about Toronto’s historic Waterfront at the Toronto on the Water digital exhibit. Look out for pirates as they make their way along the Waterfront, you never know where they will turn up!”


A new destination for visitors and a premium weekend outing for people across the city, the Waterfront Artisan Market brings together a carefully curated mix of more than 50 artisans, entrepreneurs, chefs, local makers and specialty foods. The Waterfront Artisan Market will launch at Gangways Open and take place over six weekends in a unique open-air market at HTO Park (339 Queens Quay West). Browse and shop for finely crafted jewellery, unique works of art and delicious foods.

The Waterfront Artisan Market vendors include custom wood watches and sunglasses by G Fox & Co., RailRoad Coffee Co., known for their delicious beverages and snacks from local artisans, and fresh, eclectic handmade jewellery with unique character by Social Gem. Those who are looking to discover food will find more than 20 food vendors. Freshly made donuts from Miche Bakery, hot pastrami and corn beef sandwiches from

Caplansky’s and roasted corn on the cob from The Mighty Cob are just a few of the many food vendors and chefs that visitors can savour while shopping local businesses’ wares.

The Waterfront BIA is working to bring our artistic and cultural significance to the forefront and improve the retail and restaurant environment on the Waterfront with a unique one of a kind artisanal flair.


More local Waterfront businesses than ever before will be involved in Gangways Open this year, with the launch of a new program called Spring Samplings. Local businesses will provide a complimentary sample of their product or service to the public, in front of their retail business on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29.

Here’s a selection of businesses offering complimentary Spring Samplings:

Watermark Irish Pub and Restaurant (207 Queens Quay W) – pulled short rib sliders and red sangria

Lick It Gelato (250 Queens Quay W) – gelato panini

Tim Hortons (only available at Rees & Queens Quay location) – Oreo donut and Oreo Iced Capp

BeaverTails (145 Queens Quay W) – cinnamon sugar Beavertails and gelato

Shoeless Joe’s (249 Queens Quay W) – tropical sangria

Iron Rose Tea Gallery (228 Queens Quay W) – madeleines and peach oolong iced-tea

Aroma (88 Queens Quay W) – coffee until 11:30am and red lentil soup for lunch

Sobeys (207 Queens Quay W) – Sensations by Compliments popcorn and Italian soda

Music Garden Café (466 Queens Quay W) – bread pudding

Indian Roti House (256 Queens Quay W) – Masala chai tea

The Wine Shop (228 Queens Quay W) – red and white sangria


The Waterfront will come alive with performing artists during Gangways Open this year. These multi-talented entertainers include magician Thom Barnett, who dresses and acts like Capt. Jack Sparrow, infamous magician Zoltan, life size wind-up doll Boobily the Clown, the Human Piñata, circus artist and living statue Goldie, theatre artists from the Shadowland Theatre group, safety demos from flight attendants of Disaster Air, and the high flying, stilt-walking pirates Long Jon Strong and Big Ben Block.


Watch out for pirates on the loose along the Waterfront on Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29 from 10am – 6pm daily. The first 500 visitors to Gangways Open will receive a Waterfront Welcome Bag full of special offers and gifts from local businesses when they spot one of the roving pirates.

Brush up on your pirate facts and learn about all the exciting features of Gangways Open on Toronto’s Waterfront. If you are brave enough to approach them, these pirates have some amazing booty to add to your treasure chest and may even make you laugh!

Bring your camera and eye patch and take a selfie with them. Don’t forget to share it with the hashtag #GangwaysOpen!


This year’s Doors Open Toronto 2016 theme of Re-used, Re-visited and Revised explores the adaptive re-use of buildings throughout Toronto’s architectural history, which ties in with the return of the newly digitized Toronto on the Water historical photo exhibit that features the re-use of the Waterfront pier buildings. Trace the visually stunning Waterfront history through 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 be available to view throughout the event on digital screens in Queen’s Quay Terminal (207 Queens Quay W) and Purina PawsWay (245 Queens Quay W). Admission is FREE.

Highlights from the Toronto on the Water exhibit include: Sunnyside Amusement Park (1925, Toronto Star Archives), Construction of the Gardiner Expressway and the Terminal Warehouse (1963, Toronto Star Archives), Famous Diving Horses at Toronto harbour (1907, City of Toronto / Toronto Star Archives) and Sailboat surrounded by bathers (1907, City of Toronto Archives).

Don’t forget to appreciate the architecture as Queen’s Quay Terminal and Purina PawsWay are buildings with their own rich history!

Queen’s Quay Terminal – Displayed on the main lobby digital screen inside the north entrance.

The Terminal Warehouse, built in the 1920’s, was the first poured concrete building in Canada. A renovation in 1983 changed the Terminal Warehouse into Queen’s Quay Terminal, one of Toronto’s first conversions of a former industrial building to a mixed-use of office, retail, theatre and residential condominiums. Today, Queen’s Quay Terminal includes a Sobeys in addition to the existing restaurants, offices and residences.

Purina PawsWay – Displayed on a 42” TV inside the north entrance and a 5’ widescreen projector in their conference room off the Pet Park.

The Pier 4 building, originally known as Transit Shed #4, was constructed along the east side of John Quay in 1930 as a storage facility for ships, and later rail cars on the opposite side of the pier. In 1977, Walter Oster restored the facility into an iconic 400 seat restaurant and bar which counted Hollywood icons Richard Burton and Ben Kingsley among its regular visitors. In 2008, Purina PawsWay launched in the north building of Pier 4. PawsWay is a one-of-a-kind pet centre where pet lovers can come together to learn, discover, and celebrate the world of cats and dogs. In 2012, Pier 4 Storehouse Restaurant, the south building of Pier 4, closed its doors and is now home to the Amsterdam BrewHouse.

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

William Lyon Mackenzie Fire Boat
William Lyon Mackenzie Fire Boat


Meet firefighters and tour Toronto Fire & Marine Station 344 (339 Queens Quay West). There will be activities for children and rescue demonstrations throughout the day.

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 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. Due to safety reasons, this and all other Fire vessels are not open for boarding or ship tours.


Gangways 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 fleet that is used in various rescue and response calls on Toronto’s many waterways.

The Toronto Police Marine Unit is the former site of the Toronto Harbour Police, and includes a nine slip boat house securing the Toronto Police Marine Fleet. Their fleet includes a circa 1939 Taylorcraft 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 to transport dignitaries on the lake for special occasions.

Visitors will be greeted by Marine Unit Officers who will guide them through the boat house to view various Marine Unit vessels. They will receive a short history of the Toronto Police Marine Unit and see different types of police vessels while learning what their functions are. The Marine Unit is responsible for 460 square miles of Lake Ontario as well as all rivers, creeks, and waterways in Toronto. Due to safety reasons, the vessels are not open for boarding or ship tours.



Take a break from the action and enjoy a fun float on Harbourfront Centre’s Natrel Pond in paddleboat. Rental for a 15-minute ride includes life jackets. $5/person, buy one, get one FREE. All activities on the Natrel Pond are weather permitting; please contact the Info Desk at 416-973-4000 for up-to-the-minute information.


The charter boat business is one of the main tourism attractions at the Toronto Waterfront and has a rich history. 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 6pm, subject to availability.

Visit ships from the Great Lakes Schooner Company (Challenge), Empress of Canada, Mariposa Cruises (Captain Matthew Flinders, Klancy II, Northern Spirit, Oriole, Rosemary and Showboat), Nautical Adventures (Empire Sandy) and Toronto Brigantine Tall Ships (Pathfinder and Playfair).

Empress of Canada:

The 116-foot Empress of Canada was designed by J.B. Hargrave, Naval Architects, Inc. of West Palm Beach, Florida, and built by Hike Metal Products Ltd. of Wheatley, Ontario purposely to travel in narrow channels and shallow waterways in the 30,000 Islands in Georgian Bay. Her twin caterpillar engines allow her to reign as the only boat of her size in Toronto to cruise the narrow Island lagoons.

Since moving to Toronto in 1989, the three deck Empress has gone through major interior renovations and can hold 514 passengers. The Empress of Canada has and continues to host many prominent private and corporate events with spacious interior dining decks, large walking aisles, panoramic windows, full service galley, DJ booth, three bars, sound system on each deck and themed up lighting. The Empress can host both plated and buffet service for 300 plus guests and boasts Toronto’s largest third deck outdoor dance floor. The Empress is only available for dockside tours on Sunday, May 29.

Great Lakes Schooner Company Fleet:

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.

Mariposa Cruises Fleet:

Established in 1987, Mariposa Cruises’ fleet includes six cruise ships docked along the Queen’s Quay Terminal building: Captain Matthew Flinders, Klancy II, 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. Many celebrities, athletes and musicians have enjoyed the Flinders such as Natalie Cole, Rapper/Actor/Comedian Nick Cannon, and Toronto Canadian Singer-Songwriter Karl Wolf – 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 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 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. These decks were also the star setting of a recent Masterchef Canada episode called Wedding on the Waves (April 2015).

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 Cruises’ most popular boats because of its charm and onboard comforts. On Canada Day 2015, the Showboat played host to the Stanley Cup.

Nautical Adventures – Empire Sandy:

Operating in Toronto Harbour for over 25 years, Nautical Adventures operates Canada’s largest passenger sailing ship, the Tall Ship: Empire Sandy. The ship is moored at the foot of Spadina Avenue at Queens Quay along the water’s edge. The Tall Ship Empire Sandy is a 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. The Empire Sandy 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, the Tall Ship: Empire Sandy offers a unique experience with an historical flare.

Toronto Brigantine-Pathfinder
Toronto Brigantine Pathfinder

Toronto Brigantine Tall Ships Fleet:

Toronto Brigantine Inc. (TBI) has been building character through adventure for over 50 years. Their adventure based summer sailing programs provide an environment for teens to challenge themselves both physically and mentally. With the exception of the Captain and First Mate, the ship’s crew are all teenagers – a very unique opportunity for leadership development. Each year the ships sail over 4,000 miles, spend over 40 nights at sea and visit both Canadian and US ports around the Great Lakes. TBI operates two Tall Ships, STV Pathfinder (1964) and TS Playfair (1973). Both ships were purpose-built as sail training vessels, designed by Francis A McLachlan and constructed in Kingston, ON. The Brigantines are 72’ long and can carry up to 30 people on week-long voyages.

Meet Captain Liam Fraser and the crew aboard Tall Ships Pathfinder and Playfair, and learn how to tie traditional knots from the experts.

Harbourfront Centre Sailing & Powerboating (HCSP):

Harbourfront Centre Sailing & Powerboating (HCSP) (275 Queens Quay W) operates a fleet of over 90 boats, with dinghies, sailboats, yachts & powerboats all available for public use. The collection of sleek 2-seater and 5-seater power boats are summer favourites; and more experienced sailors may elect for the challenge of navigating the CS36 yacht. For those without experience, HCSP can provide instructors to handle all of the sailing or driving duties. However, their catalogue of Sail Canada and International Yachtmaster Training (IYT) classes are designed to educate either the most complete novice as to the proper protocols for safely and competently skippering a variety of small vessels in moderate conditions, right up to navigating ocean crossings. HCSP is truly a gateway to the boating world, proving that everyone- regardless of gender, race, or skill set has the capacity to thrive on the water. They are pleased to again be a part of the Gangways Open event in 2016!

Westin Harbour Castle Gangways Open Family Getaway

Escape to Toronto during Gangways Open on Toronto’s Waterfront weekend for a mini family vacation at the Westin Harbour Castle (1 Harbour Square).

Rediscover the true nature of family fun in downtown Toronto. The Westin Harbour Castle Family Getaway package includes:

· Overnight accommodations for family of four (two double beds)

· Breakfast for two adults and two kids under 12 years, valet parking and Westin Kids Club amenity included (total value of $115)

· Rates from $214 per night

· Valued for arrivals Thursday, May 26 – Sunday, May 29.

Book online at or call 866-716-8101 and reference rate code LAFAMW to save today.

About Doors Open Toronto:

Since its inception in 2000, Doors Open Toronto has attracted more than two million visits to nearly 700 unique locations across the city. It is Canada’s largest Doors Open event and one of the three largest Doors Open events in the world. Doors Open Toronto is dedicated to built heritage, architecture and design. It is presented by Great Gulf and produced by the City of Toronto in partnership with the broader community. Look for information and updates at, Facebook at, Twitter at @Doors_OpenTO and Instagram at @doors_opento. Event hashtag is: #DOT16.

About The Waterfront BIA:

The Waterfront Business Improvement Area (WBIA), established in 2004, is the voice of the business community. Toronto’s WBIA is a community-driven organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing the economic and cultural vitality of the Waterfront area. The WBIA welcomes 17 million visitors annually with a service area population of 57,121 and growing rapidly. 68% of the area’s residents are under the age of 45, and the average household income is $118,924. Unlike most Toronto BIAs, the Waterfront is both a full-service residential area and a tourist destination, committed to improving the Waterfront area and new pedestrian-friendly promenade. The Waterfront ranks second in every visitor category – domestic and international; pleasure and business, first-time and repeat. Through marketing and promotion, special events, streetscape enhancement, strategic planning and advocacy initiatives, the WBIA continues to secure its position as one of Toronto’s premier shopping, business and entertainment destinations. Annual programs include Doors/Gangways Open, Waterfront Artisan Market, Redpath Waterfront Festival, Waterfront Singing Ambassadors and Winterfest on Toronto’s Waterfront. The Waterfront BIA has been the proud recipient of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) Awards in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015, as well as the 2015 Downtown Merit Award from the International Downtown Association (IDA) and the Award of Distinction from the 2016 BIA National Conference Awards. For more information, visit