Friday, May 21, 2010

Toronto Island Ferry

Reprinted from the Ontario Heritage Connection

(May 17, 2010) Toronto's much loved ferry boat, the Trillium, celebrates her centenary this year! Join Heritage Toronto and author Mike Filey, a champion for the ferry's restoration, for dinner and a cruise of Toronto harbour in honour of the occasion on July 2. As we cruise, hear Mr. Filey's stories of the harbour, Toronto Island, and how the ferry was rescued from a watery grave.

If you can’t make the cruise, viewing without dinner or a cruise will be available at Doors Open, May 29th and 30th as well.

On July 2nd, the harbour will be especially scenic as the Tall Ships will be in port for the Toronto Waterfront Festival. Since the Trillium is only used for special charters and not in regular Toronto Island ferry service, this is a rare opportunity to enjoy a harbour cruise on this historic vessel.

The Trillium was built at the Polson Iron Works at the foot of Sherbourne Street in 1910. She was retired from ferry service in the 1950s and towed to an Island lagoon, where she languished for many years. In the 1970s, at the urging of Mike Filey and others, Metro Toronto Council approved a project to restore the Trillium to service. On May 19, 1976 the refurbished side-wheeler steamboat was officially welcomed back to active service on Toronto Bay.

Friday, July 2 - 6:30 pm at Toronto Ferry Dock, Bay St. and Queen's Quay West

7 to 10 pm.

General admission - $65
Heritage Toronto members - $55

Ticket includes commentary by Mike Filey and a delicious buffet dinner with a cash bar.

To order tickets:
Please contact Karen Czaniecki at 416.338.1338 to order by phone, or please download the ticket order form from our website at

Tickets must be purchased by June 25.

All is not lost if you are unable to go on the cruise, you still have a chance to visit the Trillium. Mike Filey, will be aboard the renowned city ferry at the ferry docks on Queens Quay, to sign copies of his book, Trillium and Toronto Island, The Centennial Edition for Doors Open on May 29th and 30th from 10 am to 4 pm. This new updated version has just been released by Dundurn. With a new foreword and updated photos, Filey traces the Trillium's remarkable rise and fall and commemorates one of Toronto’s finest treasures.

About the Book
In June 1910 a new steam ferry for the Toronto Island Company was launched and christened Trillium. Now, 100 years after its debut, Mike Filey revisits the history of this notable landmark with the Centennial Edition of Trillium and Toronto Island. Updated with new photographs and introductory commentary, this anniversary edition of the book details the remarkable journey of Toronto's favourite ferry.

The historic vessel was reconstructed in Port Colborne in 1975, and is the last side-wheeler paddle-steamer operating in North America. Crew members will be on hand to answer questions about the vessel.

But in this case instead of being scrapped, the century-old paddle wheeler was raised and refitted after Filey and his wife, Yarmila, launched a bid to save the vessel after seeing it “literally rotting” in a Toronto island lagoon.

They enlisted the support of then alderman Art Eggleton, a friend, future mayor and senator and later Paul Godfrey, who was metro chairman at the time.

In service since 1976, the only remaining steam-powered vessel in the city’s fleet is used primarily for touring the harbour.

Built for $75,000 at a Sherbourne St. slip, Trillium was launched June 18, 1910.

The now 500-passenger ferry is being freshly painted, its electrical system and boilers checked, prior to receiving special guests at centennial celebrations on June 18th. A key visitor on June 18 will be Jane Aitken, daughter of Phyllis Osler, who christened Trillium 100 years ago and attended the 1976 relaunch.

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