Category Archives: Ripley Toronto Aquarium

Ripley’s Aquarium aims for September opening

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

August 19 2013: Construction work continues on the building exterior as Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada gears up for its September opening. Below is an artistic rendering that shows how the building will look once complete.


Ripley's Canada Aquarium rendering



Buy now: The wait to see Toronto’s newest tourist attraction is nearly over.

With its public opening set for September, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is now selling advance admission tickets on its website. The “pre-opening” passes, which cost $29.98 for adults and $19.98 for seniors over 65 and kids aged 4 to 13, will be valid for entry to the aquarium for up to one year after date of purchase.

The aquarium, which has been under construction since August 2011, has long targeted a “summer of 2013” opening. Thousands of Canadians eager to view sharks from the Dangerous Reef’s underwater tunnel had been hoping they could visit the aquarium during the summer school break, but construction didn’t finish in time. The precise opening date in September still hasn’t been announced.

Extensive information about the attraction is available on the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada website.

I posted construction photos in reports published on August 18 2011, August 17 2012, and October 14 2012.  Pictures showing how the aquarium site (on Bremner Boulevard at the base of the CN Tower) looked prior to construction can be viewed in my February 3 2011 report about the project.

More than 200 photos showing the various stages of construction during the past two years can be viewed in the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada album on TheTorontoBlog’s Facebook page.


Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

August 19 2013: Work continues on the aquarium’s main entrance as well as the new pedestrian plaza it will share with the CN Tower.



Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

August 19 2013: A view of the aquarium from the pedestrian walkway on the east side of the nearby Rogers Centre.



Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

August 19 2013: “Pre-sale” tickets are available from the aquarium’s website


Construction views from Roundhouse Park


Constantly changing scenery: The Rogers Centre, the CN Tower and the skyscrapers of the Financial District once dominated the north and east views from Roundhouse Park on Bremner Boulevard. But a slew of nearby construction projects is giving park visitors new views that change by the day. Above is a video I shot from the park yesterday, showing building activity at five major construction sites nearby: Infinity3, the final phase of the Infinity condo complex between Bremner and Lake Shore Boulevard; the two ICE Condos towers at York Centre on the east side of the Infinity buildings; the Delta Toronto hotel and Bremner office tower at Southcore Financial Centre; the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada approaching the end of construction at the foot of the CN Tower; and the Three Hundred Front Street West condo tower to the northwest.



South downtown skyscraper construction offers soaring backdrop for Toronto’s new aquarium

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada and tower construction projects  in Toronto's south downtown area

April 4 2013: Construction is proceeding on schedule for a summer opening of the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada (foreground), located on Bremner Boulevard at the foot of the CN Tower.  The new aquarium is one of eight different buildings seen at various stages of construction in this photo shot from the pedestrian walkway on the east side of the Rogers Centre. Rising behind the aquarium are, from left, The L Tower, the Delta Toronto Hotel and Bremner Tower office building at Southcore Financial Centre, the two cylindrical ÏCE Condos skyscrapers, and the two towers of the Infinity3 Condominiums. Click on the photo to view it in a larger format.



Winter building pics: March 2013

 My March 2013 album on Flickr features more than 500 photos showing dozens of downtown construction projects and building sites. Click once on the image above to view a small-format slideshow of the pictures, or click twice to access the actual album where you can view individual full-size photos with captions.



Frozen fingers: It’s only a few days into spring and I’m still sorting through hundreds of building and construction photos I took during the winter. What has struck me the most is how gloomy and grey the city looked most of the time. Sunny, clear days were few and far between — and when they came, it was usually too bitterly cold and windy for me to risk freezing my fingers by wandering around with my camera.

I did manage a few long photo walks, though, and have been gradually posting the pics in albums on’s Flickr photostream.  Above is a link to my fourth winter photo album, March 2013.




Ripley’s Aquarium construction photo update

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

October 12 2012: The Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is almost fully roofed in …


Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

… as seen in this September 25 overhead view from the CN Tower. Click on the image to view a larger photo.


Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

 September 25 2012: A view of the giant frame for the building’s entrance area


Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

October 12 2012: Construction progress viewed from the southwest, on Bremner Boulevard. Click on the image to view a larger image.


Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

 October 12 2012: Aquarium viewed from the southeast, on Bremner Boulevard.  The yellow installation indicates where exterior walls are taking form.


Eyes on the aquarium: Most of the roof is in place for the new Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, while walls along the building’s east and west sides look like they’re almost ready for exterior cladding and glass installation.

More recent photos of the aquarium, including additional overhead pics shot from the CN Tower, can be viewed in an album on thetorontoblog’s Facebook page.

The album includes photos showing the aquarium site before construction commenced, as well as dozens of photos tracking the building’s progress since the summer of 2011.

Information about the project, along with building renderings and construction photos, can be viewed in my previous posts about the $130 million aquarium on August 17 2012, August 18 2011, and February 3 2011.



Ripley’s aquarium shaping up & filling in fast

Ripley's Canada Aquarium

August 15 2012: The sharply angled roof of the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is quickly taking shape at the foot of the CN Tower, left


Ripley's Canada Aquarium rendering

This rendering provided to the media shows how the distinctive roof will appear when viewed from the entrance plaza to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada


Ripley's Aquarium Canada

August 15 2012: Another view of the iron and steel frame of the aquarium roof


Ripley's Canada Aquarium

August 15 2012: Construction viewed from the southeast on Bremner Boulevard


Ripley's Canada Aquarium

This rendering shows how the aquarium will appear when viewed from the southeast …


Ripley's Canada Aquarium rendering

… while this illustration shows the aquarium viewed from the south


Ripley's Canada Aquarium

This model shows the layout of the aquarium interior


Gone fishing: It was exactly one year ago I reported that construction had commenced at the foot of the CN Tower for the $130 million, 135,000-square foot Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada — Toronto’s first major new tourist attraction in years.

Last week I was amazed to learn that, less than a year after construction shovels had hit the ground, the aquarium had already begun hydro-testing its 750,000-gallon Shark Lagoon, filling the acrylic tanks with water to ensure there are no leaks. I had not seen the construction site since early May, at which time it looked like the building still had a long way to go, so I was surprised to hear that water testing was underway on the tanks that will become home to more than 13,500 fish and other sea creatures. (Also last week, the Toronto Star reported that marine biologists and shark experts started hunting for sand sharks for the aquarium back in April.)



Construction starts on $130M Ripley’s Aquarium

Artistic rendering of Ripley's Aquarium of Canada

This artistic illustration shows how the new Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada will appear when viewed from the east on Bremner Boulevard …


Ripley's Aquarium construction in Toronto

… while this photo from August 17 2011 shows hoarding around the aquarium site below the CN Tower, where construction has commenced


New tourist attraction: Construction of the new Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada officially kicked off yesterday when government and corporate officials gathered at the Bremner Boulevard building site beneath the CN Tower to announce details of the $130 million project.

Scheduled to open in 2013 with 135,000 square feet of space, a capacity of 1.5 million gallons, and 13,500 sea creatures, the facility — Toronto’s newest tourist attraction in years — will be one of the largest aquariums in North America.

Designed by Toronto’s B+ H Architects, the 3-storey facility will feature a 750,000-gallon shark lagoon which visitors will be able to observe through an acrylic tunnel with a 315-foot moving walkway.  The aquarium will also have a tropical reef, exhibits for Great Lakes, Atlantic and Pacific habitats, a Marine and Freshwater Education Centre with classroom space, a restaurant and a gift shop.

Construction actually commenced several weeks ago when crews began clearing the site, a large grass- and tree-covered knoll situated between the CN Tower to the west and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre‘s south building to the east.

The aquarium has been in planning and discussion stages for quite some time, but a summer construction start appeared imminent when city news media reported last winter that various levels of government were negotiating financial incentives in a bid to land the Ripley’s project for certain.  The City of Toronto is providing 12 years’ worth of property tax incentives (an estimated $8- to $12 million) under its Imagination, Manufacturing, Innovation and Technology (IMIT) program, while the Ontario government is kicking in more than $11 million towards the construction costs. Canada Lands Company, the federal Crown corporation that owns the land on which the aquarium is being built, is also a partner in the project.  According to its president & CEO Mark Laroche, Canada Lands will spend “more than $10 million to redevelop the John Street corridor with new signage and other improvements that will increase and improve the flow of pedestrian traffic from Front Street to the site,” improving the entryway to the aquarium, CN Tower and Rogers Centre.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is a division of Ripley Entertainment Inc., which already operates two other aquariums — one in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and the other in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Ripley Entertainment is owned by the Jim Pattison Group, Canada’s third-largest privately-held company. Extensive information about the Toronto project is available on the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada website.

Below are several artistic renderings and illustrations that the aquarium released to the media in connection with the official building launch ceremony, along with several photos I shot yesterday of construction activity at the site. Additional photos of the project site can be viewed in my February 23 2011 post, my first report on the Ripley’s Aquarium.


Ripley's Aquarium Shark Lagoon

 An artistic illustration of the 315-foot observation tunnel in the aquarium’s 750,000 gallon shark lagoon


Ripley's Aquarium main lobby

Artistic rendering of the Toronto aquarium’s main lobby


Ripley's Aquarium Tropical Reef

Artistic illustration of the aquarium’s tropical reef. In total, the facility will feature more than 13,500 marine creatures from 450 species


plaza view of Ripley's Aquarium

Artistic rendering of how the Ripley’s Aquarium will appear when viewed from the entrance plaza off Bremner Boulevard near the CN Tower …


Ripley's Aquarium construction in Toronto

… and a view from yesterday of construction trailers and hoarding on the site of what will become the entrance plaza depicted above


Ripley's Aquarium Toronto promotional hoarding

Promotional posters adorn the security fence around the construction site


Ripley's Aquarium Toronto construction site

Aquarium construction site viewed from the entrance plaza to the CN Tower


Drilling and excavating equipment on the aquarium site

Excavation machines and foundation building equipment in action on the site


Drilling machines on the aquarium construction site

Two red and black machines drilling near the Convention Centre south building


Ripley's Aquarium construction entrance

The construction entrance on Bremner Boulevard. The beige building to the immediate north of the work site is the Metro Toronto Convention Centre


Ripley's Aquarium of Canada artistic illustration

… and here’s an artistic illustration of Ripley’s Aquarium viewed from a similar perspective from Bremner Boulevard


Go, fish! Governments believed ready to splash some cash to lure aquarium to base of CN Tower

Ripley Aquarium

Ripley aquarium

Architectural renderings of the proposed Toronto Ripley Aquarium

Shore thing?: Toronto may finally get a much-needed new tourist attraction now that various levels of government are prepared to pump millions of dollars into the project — a Ripley Aquarium that will sit at the base of the CN Tower off Bremner Blvd.

In a story posted on its website last night, the Toronto Star reports that governments are prepared to take the plunge and invest taxpayer dollars in the aquarium project because of the obvious spin-off economic benefits such a major attraction would provide to the city. Ripley’s had applied to the city in November 2009 for zoning approval to build the three-storey entertainment complex which would include the aquarium as well as retail and restaurant facilities. The City gave approval last summer, but negotiations have continued to work out project details. Now the project is even closer to fruition, with sources telling the Star that construction is on the horizon since contracts could be signed as early as this summer. If so, the 150,000-square-foot attraction could be ready in time for the Pan Am Games in July 2015. 

One of the aquarium’s top tourist draws will be “the largest underwater tunnel in North America,” Ripley’s Entertainment president Jim Pattison Jr. told the Star. “There will be tens of thousands of different (marine) animals,  and some features that will be unique to Toronto,” he said. Further details about potential government investment in the aquarium are outlined in the Star story available at this link. Additional information about the Ripley’s Aquarium and its location beneath the CN Tower is provided in a public art plan that was submitted to the city’s Public Art Commission last July.

Building the aquarium beneath the CN Tower is a brilliant idea, I think, since the Tower draws nearly 2 million visitors a year to the area, and the Rogers Centre and convention centre are both right next door. Other nearby tourist draws include the Air Canada Centre just a five-minute walk away on Bremner Blvd., and Harbourfront just a 10-minute walk to the south. Toronto desperately needs more tourist attractions; as the Star points out, the Hockey Hall of Fame was the last major tourist attraction to open in the city, and that was 20 years ago.

It’s almost embarrassing to read the Toronto forum on and see how short the list of city tourist attractions actually is (besides recommending visits to the Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Eaton Centre, Hockey Hall of Fame and CN Tower, locals usually recommend tourists leave the city for day trips to Niagara Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake instead.)

Personally, I’ll be thrilled to see construction commence since I have heard talk about bringing an aquarium to Toronto since I moved here nearly 30 years ago. That’s been more than enough time for talk and wishful thinking. It’s high time now to finally get this project going!

Below are some photos I’ve taken of the proposed aquarium site — presently a grassy knoll between the CN Tower and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Aquarium development proposal sign

Aquarium development proposal sign near the CN Tower

Ripley Aquarium site

CN Tower observation deck view of proposed Ripley Aquarium site Nov. 2 2010

Ripley Aquarium site

View towards the Ripley Aquarium site from the base of the CN Tower

Ripley Aquarium site

Aquarium site viewed from walkway along the east side of the Rogers Centre

Ripley Aquarium site

The aquarium would be built on this grassy hillside beneath the CN Tower

Ripley Aquarium site

View toward the Ripley Aquarium site from the south side of Bremner Blvd.