Facebook Page

Trip on The Breeze:




            In the summer of 2004, Canadian American Transit Systems (CATS) introduced service between Toronto, Ontario and Rochester with a high speed ferry known as “The Breeze”. Unfortunately, the company ran into financial difficulties and stopped service after 80 days.


In the spring of 2005, the ferry was bought by the Bay Harbour Ferry Company out of Nova Scotia and they renamed the Ferry “The Cat”. By late June of 2005, they resumed the Toronto-Rochester service. I had wanted to go on the Cat, and in mid July, 2005, I got the opportunity. My cousin was celebrating his recent wedding in Niagara Falls, Ontario, plus I wasn’t working that day nor the day after so after arranging to spend the night with my aunt, I decided to go the following day. My plan was to spend the night at my aunt’s house, and have her give me a ride to just across the Canadian-U.S. boarder to the train station at Niagara Falls, New York, where I would take Amtrak train 286 to Rochester, and then make my way to the Ferry dock. This trip happened a few days after the first terrorist bombings in London, England, so I was a little worried about security stopping me from taking pictures. Fortunately, no one gave me trouble.


July 10, 2005:


My family and I got up before 9:00 am and we headed off. We drove to Niagara Falls, arriving around 11:00 am. We stopped in to see my grandma and my aunt before we headed to a winery in Grimsby for my cousin’s party.


The party went alright; my cousin and some family/friends of my cousin gave speeches and toasts to my cousin and his wife. We had lunch and after a bit of socialization, the party ended. My family and I took my grandma back to her retirement home. After, I changed from my good clothes to a t-shirt and shorts. I then gave my suitcase to my aunt and I was taken to a friend’s place.


My friend who is a few years older than me at the time owned three GM fishbowl buses. One of the fishbowls is being kept by friend down in the U.S. and he was keeping the other two in his driveway! One of the buses in his driveway is ex Niagara Transit fishbowl #14. Bus 14 was Niagara Transit’s first fishbowl and was bought new in 1964. Niagara Transit retired it in 1990. 14 passed through two tour companies seeing little to no use before being bought by my friend’s family. The other bus in the driveway was an ex St. Catherines fishbowl that originally ran in San Diego California before St. Catherines Transit bought it. I actually rode that bus before it was retired. Upon getting to my friend’s house, I took some photos of his buses.





After awhile, I walked two blocks and picked up Niagara Transit route #5 and rode down to the VIA station. By then, the Maple Leaf from New York had come and gone. Shortly after I arrived, VIA train 95 arrived. It was led by P42 #917 and had seven LRC coaches. As it pulled in, I took a couple photos of it arriving.




After the passengers got off the train, it reversed to be wyed. As it backed out, I took one more video and a photo of it.



I then went to the Niagara Transit bus garage is located across the street. I took some photos.






At one point, I thought I saw a fishbowl in the garage, but I knew it couldn’t be right as Niagara Transit had retired their last fishbowl a year earlier. What I saw was really Classic #8937. I took a photo of it anyway.



I then went back to the VIA station and called my aunt. Moments later, VIA train #95 reversed into the station after being wyed in preparation to go out as train 90 the following morning. I filmed the train backing in and I saw my aunt approaching. I waved to her with one hand while I held my camera with the other. Once I was done, my aunt and I went out for dinner. We then stopped at a Blockbuster Video to rent a movie. I chose to rent the movie “The Final Countdown”. After we got back to my aunt’s place, I watched the movie. Eventually, my and I called it a night.


July 11, 2005:


My aunt and I got up around 6:00 am. After we had breakfast, I got ready and we headed out towards the boarder. We encountered little traffic as we crossed over the Rainbow Bridge right near the Falls. We arrived at the train station 50 minutes before my train was scheduled to leave. While waiting for boarding to commence, I looked around the station and took pictures of the train. The train consisted of P32AC-DM #701, an Amfleet 1 café car, and four Amfleet 1 coaches.




Sometime after 7:30, my aunt had to leave so she could get to work. A little while after she left, boarding commenced. I was seated in Amfleet 1 coach #21194, a mostly unrefurbished coach, although it did have AC outlets by each seat. We ended up leaving Niagara Falls four minutes late.


Shortly after we left, the café car opened. I grabbed an apple muffin and a can of Pepsi which I took back to my coach seat. Between Niagara Falls New York, and Buffalo Exchange Street, only the Café car and the first coach were open. At Buffalo Exchange Street, a pretty big crowd got on and the Amtrak crew opened at least two more cars behind us, including coach #82001, a Capstone refurbished car. After stopping at Buffalo, Depew, we departed. I stayed in my coach seat for this part of the trip. Soon, we were nearing Rochester.


We were passed by a westbound CSX freight just before we made the station stop in Rochester. After walking to the end of the platform, I took a photo of the train as well as a video of the train departing.



After train 286 left, I went into the station and asked if train 48 had come through yet. I was told it came through 15 minutes before train 286 arrived. I decided to wander around for a little while. Just as I was leaving the Amtrak station a westbound CSX intermodel train passed by.



After wandering around Rochester for a little while, I took a taxi to the ferry docks. I had a few hours to kill before the Cat would leave. After I obtained my ticket, I took a walk down by the beach and along a pier before I had lunch.


A little while later, I spotted the Cat approaching and readied myself for when boarding would commence. As the Cat sailed down the narrow waterway towards the dock, I took a video and a photo of it.



About an hour before the scheduled 3:30 pm sailing, we were allowed to go through security. I was the first through and I had my suitcase checked while I would travel with my backpack. After clearing security, I sat down in a waiting room until it was time to board. When boarding began, I was the first passenger to get on.


            While waiting for the ferry to depart, I took a look around and immediately took in how nice the ferry was. The ferry has two movie theatres, a bistro, snack bar, play area for kids, an arcade, and a few lounges. There was a floor upstairs for business class travelers who got to go up a “grand staircase” as well.



This is the “Grand Staircase” on the Cat.


            Shortly after the ferry departed, they showed a video explaining the safety features of the boat and what to do in an emergency. Shortly after, they began to play the movies “Shark Tale” and “Hitch” in the ship’s two movie theatres. I wasn’t interested in either movie, so I decided to look around. Eventually, I settled grabbed a quick snack in one of the lounges and settled down to watch TV from one of the many TV monitors on board. At one point, the ferry hit two swells, but other than that, the majority of the voyage was smooth sailing.


            Soon, we were approaching Toronto. As we approached the ferry terminal, I saw the warship HMCS Toronto in the harbour. The ship was visiting Toronto for a week or two and thus, isn’t normally moored in her namesake city. After the ferry docked, I took one more picture of it just before I went into get my suitcase.



            After I got my suitcase, I went through customs. I had no problems getting through. Upon leaving the terminal, I took one last photo of the Cat before I got on a bus that would take me to the subway so I could return home.





            Overall this was a pleasant, short trip. I was impressed by the Cat. My trip on train 286 was also relaxing. Unfortunately, in early 2006, the city of Rochester put the ferry up for sale as the ferry was once again losing money. However, another company will not try to resume Toronto-Rochester service, as the ferry was bought by a company in England for use on the English Channel. Since I’m not planning on going to England, I doubt I’ll ride the ferry again. Until next time…