The tall ships are a-comin’ for a summer tradition on the Great Lakes.
These majestic sailing vessels will sail to 15 Ontario ports this summer to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812.
Toronto’s waterfront is the place to be as it will be the only port to host a full fleet of 16 ships as they travel throughout Ontario.
SETTING YOUR COURSE
The party happens at the Redpath Waterfront Festival from June 20 to 23 for the “official launch” of the Tall Ships’ 1812 Tour.
There will be four days of urban beach fun with no charge to attend (aside from deck tours).
“The tall ships will be moored along the entire two kilometres of Toronto Waterfront,” says Peter Toppazzini, chair of the Water’s Edge Festivals and Events Board.
The opening ceremonies are June 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and feature the entire fleet while the closing grand finale Parade of Sail happens on June 23 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
It’s said that staring up the mast of a “tall ship” brings thoughts of pirates and long sea voyages.
Each ship carries treasure – stories of adventure and intrigue, stormy seas and calm waters.
The term “tall ship” is often used to describe sailing vessels that have at least one tall mast to hold the sails in order for the wind to provide power to move forward.
Many tall ships are historic vessels, while some are replicas, and while in port visitors can come onboard.
They can hear the crew’s stories and learn about sailing these full-rigged ships, barquentines with three or more masts, two-masted brigs and brigantines, and schooners with two or more masts.
Deck tours are offered daily from 10 a.m. at Queen’s Quay, Lower Spadina Avenue to Lower Sherbourne Street.
Activities include War of 1812 interactive theatre, FlyBoard demonstrations, a “spectacular” after-dark lights and multimedia show along with food, fun and entertainment.
The ships are currently in the St. Lawrence en route to the Great Lakes and in Brockville this weekend through Sunday. tallshipsbrockville.com
THE FLEET IS IN
Fighting, training and school ships are among the vessels, many of which are visiting Toronto for the first time.
The tallest is Norway’s Sorlandet that plied the Great Lakes back in 1933 when she sailed to Chicago for the World’s Fair.
She is commemorating the 80th anniversary of that historic visit with a special delegation of Norwegian dignitaries onboard.
From the first sail-training school for young people in Kingston is the St. Lawrence II brigantine built 50 years ago.
Peacemaker, a three-masted barquentine from Georgia, will be visiting along with the Unicorn and its all-female crew.
Unicorn was built in Holland in 1947 with her hull constructed with steel salvaged from German U-boats.
Other ships are Canada’s Liana’s Ransom; Fair Jeanne; Pathfinder; Playfair; and Caledonia; and from the U.S., Pride of Baltimore II; Privateer Lynx; Schooner Hindu; and Brig Niagara.
The Canadian schooners Challenge, Empire Sandy and Kajama are Toronto Harbour ships and an extension to the fleet that will offer daily sailings during the festival.
ALL THINGS NAUTICAL
For details about the tall ship festivals:
- Redpath Waterfront Festival Toronto, June 20-23: towaterfrontfest.com
- Tall Ships Hamilton, June 28-30: 1812hamilton.com
- St. Catharines 1812 Tall Ships Visit, June 29-30: niagara1812tallships.com
- Sails on the St. Marys, Sault Ste. Marie, July 19-21: algoma1812.com
- Tall Ships 1812 Georgian Bay, Aug. 16-18 and 24-25: 1812bicentennial.com
- Southwestern Ontario: Sails to See (Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island), Aug. 30-Sept. 2: coastaltrails.ca