My Toronto Harbour story goes back to when I was a little boy. I didn’t know where it was at the time, but there was an air show on in the early 70’s. I must have been five or six tops. I remember walking along what turned out to be breakwater, just west of Bathurst Street by where the Island Airport is now. Looking up, watching the beautiful airplanes fly by, not realizing that as I was walking that I would run out of breakwater until…splash! There I was, in the water, in a panic, in a fright. Although end of summer I remember the water stank, there was seaweed, I had trouble coming up. Of course I was saved quickly by my parents and my big brother. I was then promptly sat down on top of an old tire and I was wrapped up in towels and I remember sitting there shivering and stinking of oil, stinking of gasoline, and a sludge smell. I was really unhappy.
It turns out, years later as a man, I found myself buying an old sailboat as one does, before I die I wanted a sailboat and there one appeared, and it was at the National Yacht Club (NYC), which turns out to be protected now by the very same breakwaters. There’s land fill there now, you wouldn’t realize it at first, took me a few years, but now I’m sailing out of the very same basin that I fell into as a kid and I got to say, I go swimming there occasionally on hot summer nights, and the water smells a bit better, the water is cleaner—except for maybe after a storm, there is a big inlet pipe out there that we watch out for. But the changes in the harbour front there are astounding to me. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but it is better than it was.
I swim on hot summer nights, or after sailing school with my kids. We throw ourselves into our basin there at NYC and Coronation Park. It’s fun, it’s great, it’s cool, it’s refreshing, but yes it is a bit sludgy, but generally it doesn’t smell horrid, it smells pretty nice. When I swim I feel refreshed, I love Lake Ontario very, very much. I admire what’s been done though there has to be more, there are areas I would never swim in. There are areas in the Inner Harbour where you can just see that it’s sludgy, and smell that it is, so more work has to be done, that’s quite clear. But where it’s nice to swim, it’s beautiful.
My Watermark is the Toronto Harbour of Lake Ontario.