Vessels and Cruises

Cruise through history at Canal Days!

In 2009, the St. Lawrence Seaway celebrated it's 50th anniversary. The Welland Canal is an intrinsic part of the Seaway system and is still a very active trade and commerce route so it's business as usual as giant freighters, barges, and lakers glide past the festival all weekend long.

Highway H2o logoOnly in Port Colborne does the current Welland Canal pass directly through the downtown business district, and only during Canal Days will visitors find an impressive array of special guests: Tall Ships, Coast Guard vessels, a working Fire Boat, and many other ships along the wall at historic West Street.

Many of these ships are open for public viewing, and many of the ships' crew interact with festival guests, or compete in marine challenges. Lake Erie Tall Ship Cruises are available and guests can also book a sunset dinner cruise, or view the spectacular Canal Days Fireworks from the deck of the Empire Sandy.

What better way to celebrate the height of summer than to bring all the elements together - the feel of the wind and the deck beneath your feet, the spray of the water, the warmth of the air, and the fires of celebration in the sky overhead.


 Empire Sandy

For advance tickets call: 905-834-7572. Tickets on sale now. For cruise ticket prices and menu selection please visit the Tall Ship Cruises page.

For more information about the Empire Sandy, click here.



Fireboat Edward M Cotter


On October 7, 1960, an unprecedented event occured in American History.  On that night, at the age of 60, the Edward M. Cotter's extraodinary firefighting abilities were called upon to help Buffalo's fellow firefighters in another country.

A blaze erupted in the eight-story Maple Leaf Milling Company, a grain and milling company in Port Colborne. Despite their efforts, with no fireboat protection of their own, the fire was soon out-of-control.  The Port Colborne Fire Dept. desperately needed help and the call went out requesting the Cotter.

At approximately 8:30pm, with no radar of her own to help her navigate, the Cotter began her dangerous trek across the often trecherous waters of Lake Erie, escorted by a Coast Guard cutter. Two hours after receiving the call, the Cotter arrived.  With all her guns brought to bear, she fought for more than four hours until the blaze was finally extinguished. On that day, the Edward M. Cotter became the first fireboat in the United States to cross the international line to fight a fire.




Photo Courtesy of Gina Tartaglia

HMCS Oriole



The latest ship to join Canadian Fleet Atlantic also happens to be the RCN’s longest serving commissioned vessel. HMCS Oriole, Canada’s Navy tall ship, was inducted into the fleet with a small ceremony at HMC Dockyard on May 29, just minutes before the ship and her crew departed Halifax for the St. Lawrence Seaway and the 2018 Great Lakes Deployment.

            Oriole, built in 1921, then donated to the RCN and commissioned in 1952, is essentially an ambassador ship for the Navy, used for public outreach and for training junior sailors. The 31-metre tall sailing ketch was previously based at CFB Esquimalt, and the goal in transferring her to the east coast is to give a different segment of the Canadian population a chance to enjoy the history and heritage that Oriole offers.


With its home port at the Canada Centre for Inland Water in Burlington, ON, the CCGS Limnos makes a valuable contribution to the research and monitoring of the Great Lakes. Taking its name from limnology, the study of inland water, the CCGS Limnos supports science research, conducted by Environment and Climate Control Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, on climate change, the impact of invasive species on ecosystems, nutrient enrichment, water quality surveillance, and harmful material management on the Great Lakes. The Canadian Coast Guard operates and maintains the CCGS Limnos and has a crew complement of 16 CCG personnel and up to 13 research personnel.


Vessel Deck Tours






HMCS Oriole Arrival 10am-6:00pm   No Charge
CCGS Limnos Arrival 10am-6:00pm 10am-2:00pm No Charge
E.M. Fire Boat Cotter Arrival 10am-6:00pm varies Donations
All times and fees are subject to change without notice. Please note weather conditions may affect tour times.