19-June (evening boarding), Jasper AB - 22-June (morning) Toronto ON
We arrived in Toronto and transferred to the hotel mid-morning
of a gray day. It wasn't actually raining... yet. It was too
early to check in so we left our bags with the porters and
decided to start using our three-day pass on the Hop On Hop Off
There is a lot of construction in Toronto including the
immediate vicinity of the hotel. Further, there seems to be
confusion if not outright piracy among the bus and boat
companies in Toronto. We're still not sure that our city and
harbour rides were actually with the companies we were supposed
to be using. Each accepted our vouchers from Fresh Tracks Canada
so it worked out for us.
We took the Harbour and Islands Cruise first as it was starting
to drizzle but visibility was still good. Examination of a map
or Toronto will reveal an arc of small low islands about a mile
offshore in Lake Ontario. There is a downtown short-haul airport
and a port based partly on landfill. In good weather it would
have been fun to walk through the islands and get back our
landlegs after three days on the train -- but it was not good
weather. It had been raining and all the plastic sides had been
pulled down on the tour boat. Coming back, we were the only two
passengers and the tour guide came back and talked to us
directly instead of using the microphone.
The Toronto skyline with the Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome) and the CN Tower. Our hotel is on the right with what looks like a turret on top (a revolving restaurant).
We had lunch and then walked back to the hotel to check in. We
then went back out to try to find the stop for the Hop On Hop
The Hop On Hop Tour used an open-top double-decker bus. We
didn't go upstairs, fortunately. It began to rain. No, it began
to be a serious downpour. The upstairs crowd fled downstairs,
the water cascaded down the steps behind them into the bottom
level. Every time the bus accelerated or decelerated (remember
this is a city tour), a wave of water a couple of inches high
surged from one end of the bus to the other. It didn't last long
but it was a disaster while it was happening. We rode the loop
all the way through and got off at the stop nearest to the
The storm had passed for moment so we walked along the
waterfront back to the hotel. Several tall ships were moored
right in front of our hotel to commemorate the 1813 Battle of
York (as Toronto was named at the time). American forces
captured, plundered and burned a part of the town, which was
then the capital of Upper Canada. This was later avenged by the
British by burning Washington DC (and causing the Executive
Mansion to be whitewashed to cover the smokestains, the White
House ever after). Judging by the 4:1 ratio of US flagged
vessels to Canadian vessel, the reconstruction was a foregone
conclusion. (Much smoke and noise during the weekend at times.)
And here was the view from our 25th floor room in watery late afternoon sun.
23 June Toronto-Niagara-Toronto
This was an all-day trip to Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, about 75 miles (121 km) from Toronto. This was the only part of Canada that Beth had seen before and the first revisited location on the trip for John (he estimates being about 6 the first time which would have been about 1953). The falls haven't really changed much but the commercialization on the Canadian side is far worse. Shame on the American hotel chains and shame on the Canadians giving in to them. The American side seems less commercialized but then the view is far less spectacular from there.
The following photos have been selected from onboard The
Maid of the Mist (water level), from a hotel where we had
lunch and from Table Rock (on the brink of the Horseshoe Falls).
American and Bridalveil Falls, US side (above) and approaching Horseshoe Falls, Canadian side (below, Table Rock on the right).
The blue polyethylene ponchos are not nearly large enough nor heavy enough to protect a large person like John who got drenched up to elbows and knees (but protected the camera!).
The Horseshoe Falls from a hotel roof on the Canadian side. The
Maid of the Mist is exiting the maelstrom. Identical
fleets of the boats operate from both shores so passengers do
not have to clear border formalities.