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Urban Boating - Living on a Boat in Toronto Harbour

By: Scott Way

Norvic 1 Ferry
Stuart Galloway calls the converted ferry Norvic 1 his home in downtown Toronto / Photo- CTV News Toronto

Nearly every boater dreams of turning their part time hobby into a full time lifestyle. Living aboard is the end goal for many, like those who embark on the arduous Great Loop, or those who invariably decide that life on the high seas is preferable to life on solid ground. For Toronto resident Stuart Galloway, ditching the urban jungle wasn't totally realistic, but living onboard was a definite possibility provided he made a few tweaks to the typical accommodations.

Galloway was recently interviewed by CTV News Toronto to learn about his life as an urban boater.

According to Galloway, five years ago he decided to follow a childhood dream and live aboard a boat full time. The problem, however, was finding a way to stay in the city. His compromise came in the form of a refurbished 1920's ferry called the Norvic 1. After making the purchase, he set about living his new lifestyle paying mooring fees instead of property taxes. The history of the boat is interesting enough, as it had shuttled passengers across the Ottawa river from Quebec to Ontario beginning in 1922. The name of the vessel comes from both its original home port of Norway Bay in Bristol, Quebec and from the original builders Vicker's Marine in Montreal. With a length of seventy two feet and a beam of twenty two feet, the solid steel single diesel engine ship had a distinctive bow and stern shape and was originally designed to carry eight vehicles and their passengers across the Ottawa river. The boat was decommissioned from ferry use and sold to Canadian real estate executive William Teron in 1989 who converted it to a luxury yacht. It was resold again in the early 2000s and traveled through several owners before landing in Galloway's eager hands.

When he took ownership the boat had no plumbing, no electricity, and no bathroom. In the five years since, he has made it fully functional home with a bedroom, bathroom, a rooftop deck, and a fireplace as the primary heat source during Toronto's frosty winters. Shore power provides the necessary voltage to run the boat's internal systems, and he's in the midst of adding a second bedroom and bathroom. He didn't reveal the total cost of the endeavor, but given real estate values in the city suffice to say it's significantly cheaper than buying a condo. Once complete, the Norvic 1 will boast a plush 1700 square feet of living space nestled just a block from the Roger's Centre and the CN Tower.

According to Galloway, the lifestyle certainly has its perks, but he wouldn't recommend following in his footsteps. "I would say it's the best decision ever made. I'd also recommend not to do it, because I don't want too many neighbours" (laughs).

Check out Galloway enjoying the urban boating lifestyle in the video below:

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