Thomas Rennie (ferry, 1951)

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Toronto ferry Thomas Rennie.JPG
Thomas Rennie in 2012
Name:Thomas Rennie
Namesake: Thomas Rennie, Toronto Harbour Commissioner
Owner: City of Toronto government
Operator: Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division
Port of registry: Toronto, Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada
Builder: Toronto Drydock Co. Ltd.
In service: 1951
General characteristics
  • Gross: 424 t
  • Net: 274 t
Length: 129 feet (39 m)
Beam: 10.08 metres (33.1 ft) [1]
Draught: 1.82 metres (6.0 ft) [1]
Depth: 2.71 metres (8.9 ft) [1]
Decks: 2
Installed power: 900 brake horsepower
Sail plan: [1]
Speed: 10.3 knots (19.1 km/h) [1]
Capacity: 736 passengers [2]

Thomas Rennie is a 68-year-old Toronto Island ferry operated by the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division of the City of Toronto government. [3] She entered service in 1951, the most recent of the three ferries that bring visitors to the Toronto Islands during the summer months. [4] She was named after a former member of the Toronto Harbour Commission.

Toronto Island ferries

The Toronto Island ferries connect the Toronto Islands in Lake Ontario to the mainland of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The main city-operated ferry service carries passengers and vehicles from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal at the foot of Bay Street to several docks on the islands. A ferry operated by PortsToronto carries passengers and vehicles to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on the island from the foot of Eireann Quay. Additional private ferries carry passengers to various island boat clubs. Ferry services to the islands began in 1833, and the Toronto Island Ferry company began in 1883.

The City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division is the largest division of the Toronto municipal government. It is responsible for city-owned parks, forests, and recreation centres. With an gross annual budget in 2018 of C$468 million, the division is responsible for the City's over 3 million trees, 1473 named parks, 839 sports fields, 137 community centres, and about 670 other recreational facilities including: pools, golf courses, ski centres, skating rinks, greenhouses and ferries. Each year, more than 1.2 million Toronto residents participate in over 54,000 recreation and leisure programs offered by the division.

Toronto Islands archipelago in Lake Ontario, Canada

The Toronto Islands are a chain of 15 small islands in Lake Ontario, south of mainland Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Comprising the only group of islands in the western part of Lake Ontario, the Toronto Islands are located just offshore from the city's downtown and provide shelter for Toronto Harbour. The islands are home to parkland, the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, several yacht clubs, Centreville Amusement Park, and several beaches. The island community is considered to be the largest urban car-free community in North America, although some service vehicles are permitted. Access to the Islands is by ferry, including the City of Toronto ferries operating from Jack Layton Ferry Terminal at the foot of Bay Street, or by water taxis.



Commissioned in 1950, the Rennie was built by the Toronto Dry Dock Company Limited. [5] The ferry cost CA$250,000. It was built to replace the T. J. Clark, which was then transferred from passenger service to freight service. [6]

She was built to carry 1000 passengers. [1] However, in 2012, Transport Canada new regulations limited her capacity to 524 passengers. Thomas Rennie, William Inglis and Sam McBride had been modernized, only to find the modernization meant that they were no longer "grandfathered". After a year of lobbying, Transport Canada agreed to restore the ferries' "grandfather" status. [7] The Rennie's capacity was raised to 736. [2]

Transport Canada

Transport Canada is the department within the Government of Canada responsible for developing regulations, policies and services of transportation in Canada. It is part of the Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities (TIC) portfolio. The current Minister of Transport is Marc Garneau. Transport Canada is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario.

<i>William Inglis</i> (ferry) Toronto Island ferry

William Inglis is a Toronto Island ferry operated by the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division of the City of Toronto government. The ferry serves the Toronto Islands from a dock at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

<i>Sam McBride</i> (ferry)

Sam McBride is a Toronto Island ferry operated by the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division of the City of Toronto government. The ferry serves the Toronto Islands from a dock at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

In October 2012, Toronto City Council decided that funds should be set aside to replace Thomas Rennie and her two fleet-mates with new vessels. [8] Replacement costs were estimated at CA$8 million per ferry. [2]

Toronto City Council legislative body of Toronto

The Toronto City Council is the governing body of the City of Toronto government in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Members represent wards throughout the city, and are known as councillors. The passage of provincial legislation in the summer of 2018 established that the number of wards be reduced from 44 to 25 and that they be based upon the city's federal electoral districts as of the year 2000. While the federal districts have been redistributed since then, the ward boundaries remain the same. The city council had at its peak 45 members: 44 ward councillors plus the mayor. On September 19, 2018, an Ontario Court of Appeals granted a stay order of a previous court decision that would have prevented this reduction, thus re-establishing the move to 25 wards. The actual court appeal of Bill 5 has yet to be scheduled, but was heard subsequent to the municipal election on October 22, 2018.


In 1953, the Rennie ran aground at Hanlan's Point in a fog. In July 1954, it crashed into the city wharf when it failed to reverse, injuring two passengers. [9] In 1958, when water levels were low, the Rennie ran aground at Centre Island. A police launch was able to pull the Rennie free. [10]

In 1959, while a maintenance man tested its engines, the Rennie moved slowly out of its Queen's Quay dock, unpiloted. She went out 100 yards into the harbour, and made a slow arc to the west, crashing into the wharf at the Terminal Warehouse. The boat's controls had been left in the 'dead slow ahead' position. The ship suffered minor hull damage and was repaired by Toronto Dry Dock. [11]

Queens Quay Terminal

Queen's Quay Terminal is a condominium apartment, office and retail complex in the Harbourfront neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It was originally built in 1927 as a marine terminal with office, warehouse and cold-storage facilities. When shipping to Toronto declined in the 1960s and 1970s, the building was bought by the Government of Canada to be repurposed along with a section of the industrial waterfront. The Terminal Building itself was rebuilt in the 1980s with the addition of four floors of residential above the original facility, which was converted into retail and office uses. The cold storage wing was demolished and its plant building became The Power Plant gallery and Harbourfront Centre Theatre.

In 1965, the Rennie had a stack fire when its engines overheated. The William Lyon Mackenzie fireboat was able to douse the flames while Toronto Harbour Police evacuated the passengers. [12] In 1968, the Rennie crashed into Queen's Quay ferry dock when it failed to reverse its engines. Eight children and four adults were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. [13] The collision damaged the dock but the ferry was not damaged.

In 1976, while on a party cruise, a 21-year-old male passenger fell into the harbour from the Rennie. The man spent several minutes in the water clinging to a ring buoy until Harbour Police arrived. He had to be treated for shock. [14]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Vessel: Thomas Rennie". Canada Transport Agency. June 28, 2011. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 Niamh Scallan (July 5, 2012). "Toronto Islands ferry passenger limits eased". Toronto: Toronto Star. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2015. Although the new passenger limits kicked in this spring, the trouble with Toronto’s aging ferry fleet began in 2008 when Transport Canada ordered the city to upgrade three boats — the William Inglis and Sam McBride, both built in the 1930s, and the Thomas Rennie, built in 1951. ... But what Transport Canada failed to tell parks staff, he said, was that the upgrades could cause the boats to lose their grandfathered status, which exempts the aging vessels from current marine safety standards.
  3. Larry Partridge (March 1976). "Toronto Island Ferry History: The Modern Fleet: 1935 - 1960" . Retrieved March 14, 2003.
  4. Chris Bateman (October 7, 2012). "Explaining Enwave, Ford's Jarvis figures, Island ferry names, and classic council clashes". BlogTO . Retrieved April 30, 2015. A former Toronto Harbour Commissioner, Rennie lived long enough to see the vessel christened in his honour. He died the next year aged 84.
  5. Know Your Ships 2017. Marine Publishing Co. Inc. 2017. p. 41. ISBN   978-1-891849-22-0.
  6. "Subway Lifts Limelight From New Super Ferry". The Globe and Mail. July 27, 1950. p. 5.
  7. Niamh Scallan (July 4, 2012). "New federal marine safety standards force Toronto ferries to carry fewer people". Toronto: Toronto Star. Archived from the original on December 23, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2015. Earlier this year, the federal agency reportedly told the city the three aging ferries were considered “new” as a result of the upgrades and ordered them to comply with current international marine safety standards.
  8. Niamh Scallan (October 1, 2012). "Toronto's aging island ferries headed for retirement". Toronto: Toronto Star. Archived from the original on February 2, 2013. Retrieved April 30, 2015. After spending $5 million for ferry upgrades that had unintended negative consequences, Toronto’s cash-strapped parks department is now planning to put aside money to replace the aging fleet altogether.
  9. "Ferry Hits Dock, 2 Persons Hurt". The Globe and Mail. July 29, 1954. p. 4.
  10. "TTC Ferry Runs Aground in Harbor 'Pea Soup' Fog". The Globe and Mail. October 11, 1958. p. 4.
  11. "TTC Ferry Hits Wharf On Harbor Ghost Run". The Globe and Mail. June 4, 1959. p. 1.
  12. "Fireboat Tends Blaze on Ferry". The Globe and Mail. November 3, 1965. p. 2.
  13. "Island ferry strikes dock". The Globe and Mail. May 27, 1968. p. 5.
  14. "Man Rescued After Falling From Ferry". The Globe and Mail. June 18, 1976. p. 5.