The Redpath Waterfront Festival has taken over the Toronto harbourfront and one of the attractions is the Tall Ships. The Tall Ships visit Toronto every three years as part of the festival. There are three locations to see the Tall Ships during the festival including Harbour Square Park, Sugar Beach and Sherbourne Common. You will need to purchase a ticket to board any of the 12 vessels. Torontonicity checked out the tall ships at Sherbourne Common on Saturday, June 29, 2019.
Harbour Square Park
Tall Ships at Sugar Beach
The tall ships at Sugar Beach include the HMCS Oriole, the Royal Canadian Navy’s oldest commissioned ship. Listen to Home Port Hero stories from Parks Canada and the Royal Canadian Navy, highlighting the sacrifices made by merchant sailors and shipbuilders during WWII. You can also enjoy live entertainment at the Canada D’Eh Stage with performances by American Rogues, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation performers including Manitou Mkwa Singers, Hoop Demonstration with Nikki Shawana and Mark LaForme Band, and the Royal Canadian Navy. There will also be activities and giveaways from Redpath Sugar, Waterfront Toronto and Morning Star Farms. There are also food vendors at Sugar Beach serving summer-inspired fare.
Tall Ships at Sherbourne Common
We decided to check out the Tall Ships docked at Sherbourne Common. The undoubted star attraction of the Redpath Waterfront Festival is the Bluenose II – yes the ship you see on the Canadian dime! The Bluenose II was built in 1963 after its predecessor sunk in Haiti. Unlike its predecessor, it does not race. Owned by the government of Nova Scotia, the Bluenose II was refurbished in 2012. Be sure to check out the gorgeous masts, booms and deck made from Douglas Fir from British Columbia. An interesting fact: the Bluenose II has the largest working mainsail – 4,150 square feet – in the world.
The Bluenose II is a gorgeous ship to board. We arrived right at 11 a.m. on Saturday and there was not much of a line-up to board the ship. If you are visiting the Redpath Waterfront Festival, I highly recommend that you board the Bluenose II.
Picton Castle is an older vessel, built in 1928. After having boarded the newer Bluenose II, we noticed quite a contrast in the two boats. For instance, you have to climb a fairly steep ladder of about six steps to get to the upper deck of the Picton Castle. Despite being an older vessel, she sailed around the globe for the first time in November 1997. Named after a castle in Wales, this ship served as a minesweeper and then carried cargo along the Norwegian coast for decades. Picton Castle now offers a sail-training program where trainees learn about sailing. She has gone on seven adventures around the world with 40 trainees. Definitely check this boat out if you want to see what an older ship looks like!
We then boarded Denis Sullivan, which is the most modern vessel at the Redpath Waterfront Festival; it’s a replica of a 19th century great lakes schooner. She uses modern navigation equipment and diesel engines and has showers for her crew, a scientific laboratory and two computer workstations. You’ll get a chance to go below deck to see some of her impressive technology and equipment. Denis Sullivan has come all the way from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, her home port. Denis Sullivan offers multi-day and daily educational sails, where visitors learn about sailing, maritime history and the Great Lakes ecosystem. Denis Sullivan first visited Toronto in 2010 as part of the Tall Ships event.
Don’t miss the two-day Oyster Shucking Competition at Sherbourne Common hosted by Rodney’s Oyster House. The special guest is MasterChef Season 6 winner Jennifer Crawford. On Sunday June 30, 2019 from 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., 1012 shuckers will compete with the top shuckers competing on Canada Day.
After boarding the tall ships, we visited the Maritime Market at Sherbourne Common. Here’s where you can stave off hunger by checking out food stands selling lobster and crab poutine, lobster rolls, scallop and bacon pizza, burritos and fries. We stopped at Rodney’s Oyster House who were shucking Lameque Cocktail oysters from New Brunswick. These oysters were 6 for $12 or 12 for $20. They were a great choice – crisp in flavour, salty and meaty in texture.
We also checked out some of the jewelry and beauty products vendors. I love these sun catchers with the Tree of Life made with gemstones from Bella Beads.
Listening to live entertainment on the East Coast Kitchen Party Stage from The Next Generation Leahy, Great Canadian Fiddle Show, Screeched Inn and Shreem x Celtic Remixing really put us in a Maritime mood.
The Redpath Waterfront Festival is Saturday, June 29, 2019 and Sunday, June 30, 2019 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Monday, July 1, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online. Ahoy matey, what are you waiting for?