Hey honey, let's grab the kids and get on the water was the message from Toronto.

Toronto was a character show that, yet again, fulfilled its purpose of catering to and inspiring those with an interest in on-water summer activities. It certainly is a ten-day endurance marathon for vendors. They weren’t complaining, as it  was a resounding success by all accounts, with claims that attendance numbers were up and sales were good.

There’s a lot of summer-house/cottage feel to the Toronto boatshow. It’s not so much pleasure craft, as in “luxury”, but as in “Hey, honey, let’s grab the kids and head out on the lake”. Ontario is full of small lakes and rivers, so it isn’t surprising that smaller powered craft, of all types including PWCs, dominate at this show. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t anything high end, or high performance though. Nor were sailors neglected; there were dinghies, beach cats, windsurfers and family cruisers to choose from.


If asked to vote for a star of the show, I guess many would have gone for this Correct Craft. It wouldn’t appeal to anyone’s tree-hugger side, but it sure made a lot of eyes pop!

Queues often formed to view the larger, luxury models and there were always plenty of people around the indoor lake, complete with floating docks and boats.  It also housed the speakers’ Boathouse for seminars that took place daily.

This year’s Boathouse speakers were Derek Hatfield of the Spirit of Canada; Paul & Sheryl Shard on Sailing and Motor Yacht Cruising in Egypt; Alessandro Di Benedetto on his solo Pacific crossing from Yokohama to San Francisco on a 19.6 ft catamaran; John Kretschmer on being At the Mercy of the Sea and Dee Caffari, of Aviva fame, on her 2005/2006 ”wrong way” circumnavigation.

Dee is a great speaker and kept her audience’s attention as she spoke, not just about her round the world voyage, but about the tremendous support Aviva is giving her for the Vendee, with a new Owens-Clarke Open 60  being built in New Zealand, a used Open 60 to practice on until hers is ready, and the entire team behind her. I think Dee struck some chords  with many who listened,  she certainly did with me.

Just off the Indoor Lake was the Cottager’s Marketplace.  Here you could find inflatable kayaks, wakeboards, wetsuits, swimsuits, hammocks, plans for building a log-house, even gourmet sauces. This spilled into the Mariners’ Marketplace, where anyone with a boat could find electronics to dock-kits, as well as all manner of gear. 

In the sailing area, you could find boat sizes from dinghies and kayaks, to the floating cottages demanded by one sector of the local market. 

In keelboats, the Beneteau 10R and the J109 were there for the racer/cruiser market, but this was not a show for the really serious racing sailor, except for the dinghy section. This was about comfortable cruising for the whole family to enjoy spending time on the water together.

The Toronto International Boat Show is a wonderful reminder, in the cold of January, that summer will be back and there will be much family fun to be had on the water, whatever your preference may be.

You could also find lots of advice about how to learn your  chosen watersport and The Great Canadian Fish Tank, while tucked away in a corner, was a great place to learn about various fishing techniques, with not less than four seminars daily throughout the Show.

Toronto is very much about having fun on the water and that makes it a fun show, with some unexpected sights adding to the character. You don’t exactly expect to find a baby snow plough at a boat show, do you?

Every exhibitor I spoke with was happy with how it was going and the only complaints I heard from visitors came when they saw me taking pictures and bemoaned that they’d left their camera at home.