Redpath Waterfront Festival


by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

This was an event that we had been anticipating for over a year. It was the Redpath Waterfront Festival, located in the heart of Toronto’s harbourfront. This year the festival was featuring the Pan Provincial 1812 Tall Ships® Tour and was the launching site of the Tour itself. We knew that the traffic to Toronto and the parking at waterfront would both be impossible (especially with all the summer construction downtown), so we decided to take the GO train from Oshawa. Even though we have taken the trip many times, the scenes along the way continue to amaze us.  We eventually reached Toronto's Union Station and joined the march towards Harbourfront and the Tall Ships. From a distance we could see several ships masts towering high into the sky. Upon reaching the waterfront we immediately headed toward the first tall ship that we saw, so that we could get a closer look. We reluctantly left the crowd that had gathered on the ships dockside and headed for the main Harbourfront Centre building.               

We had previously arranged to meet our friend, Tom McTaggart, there, so that he could join us in our adventure to explore all of the Tall Ships that had gathered along the waterfront and to explore the Redpath Waterfront Festival what else the festival  had to offer. Unfortunately our timing was "off", because Tom's short trip (he live just a little east of downtown Toronto) was delayed due to transportation issues (construction blocking the TTC streetcars)! It's funny that we travelled many more miles, yet arrived early! So much for best laid plans. Tom finally arrived and we were excited to go! The most fascinating image for me was the contrast between new and old! Ferries and modern boats sailed merrily along the blue waters, while airplanes took off from the Island Airport. This all viewed through the maze of netting and ropes attached to the ancient mariners. If you have never been to Toronto Harbourfront before, you would not know that to get from one end of the "docks" to the other, you had to wind your way along the boardwalk, then travel up a dock, over a bridge to get to the other side. We performed this zigzag pattern several times The Tall Ships were scattered along the boardwalk so we were able to view and explore a couple of ships at a time, then move along to another set of moored ships. We eventually made our way to the final staging area. This is where the main ceremonies were being held along with a wonderful performance stage and interesting vendors, merchants and culinary tents were located. Even though the Redpath Waterfront Festival in itself is expansive, this particular area felt very inviting. The performance on stage depicted the War of 1812 re-enactment. It was geared to a young audience and an audience with a sense of humor. Their costumes were humorous, the skits short, educational, to the point and memorable. The audience was engaged and delighted by the show. Our Ontario Visited photos will help "paint the picture" of this great event, but being there was exciting. Young crew members climbed the masts to adjust the rigging to the amazement of the crowds. High above the water they dangled in the air. The task at hand seems to overweigh any "fears" they might have had. We had an opportunity to tour the ship desks, enjoy the Redpath Waterfront Festival activities, watch the live show, eat, and drink and more. Again, the colourful Harbourfront and all the diverse activities made this day one to remember. Timing was on our side on the way home as the Go Train was waiting to depart just as we walked up to the platform. We sat in silence on the way home, partly from exhaustion from all our walking, partly from reflecting on a fantastic day of adventure!