With all of its construction delays behind it, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada opened this morning at the base of the CN Tower in Downtown Toronto.

The new Ripley's Aquarium of Canada is located at the base of the CN TowerThe new Ripley's Aquarium of Canada is located at the base of the CN Tower, image by Craig White

Speeches were made by Ripley's Entertainment President Jim Pattison Jr. and father Jim Pattison Sr., President of the Jim Pattison Group; the Hon. Michael Chan, Ontario Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, plus a representative of the City of Toronto. Jimmy Pattison singled out Elizabeth Tory, mother of radio host John Tory, for special recognition, as the person most responsible for getting Ripley's to open an Aquarium in Toronto. Ms. Tory was honoured with, amongst other things, a lifetime pass to the Aquarium. City Councillor Adam Vaughan was singled out for helping to get the Aquarium through Toronto's planning process.

Jimmy Pattison, Elizabeth Tory, Jim Pattison, image by Craig WhiteJim Pattison Jr, Elizabeth Tory, Jim Pattison Sr, image by Craig White

After the speeches, the ribbon cutting took place in the "Dangerous Lagoon", the aquarium's largest tank, with three divers doing the honours, while three acrobats performed in the facility's two-storey entrance space.

Scissors of a different sort at the ribbon cutting ceremony, Ripley's AquariumScissors of a different sort at the ribbon cutting ceremony, image by Craig White

It's not hard to snap 200 photos in here in an hour or two, there are several "wow" spots to choose from. Without giving too much away about the attractions to be seen inside the galleries, we present a selection of photos from this morning. The trail starts with an introduction to the marine ecology of the Great Lakes, including this school of alewives, a fish which gradually invaded the lakes thanks to the building of the canals from the St. Lawrence River.

A school of Alewives, an invader of the Great Lakes, Ripley's AquariumA school of Alewives, an invader of the Great Lakes, image by Craig White

After crossing Canada's fresh water and visiting the Arctic, we are introduced to the kelp forests of the Pacific Ocean.

In the Pacific kelp forest, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, TorontoIn the Pacific kelp forest, image by Craig White

Next it's on the warmer parts of the world's oceans, our first stop is Rainbow Reef. Only one tank (not this one—a a smaller one) at the aquarium features real coral, so as not to destroy living reefs. Corals here are made of painted cement and/or rubber, and provide life-like environments in each tank.

Rainbow Reef, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, TorontoRainbow Reef, image by Craig White

Rainbow Reef, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, TorontoIn Rainbow Reef, image by Craig White

Following on Rainbow Reef is Dangerous Lagoon, with 2,900,000 litres of water, and a 96 metre-long moving sidewalk beneath it. There are three species of sharks in the lagoon, sawfish, sea turtles, moray eels, and thousands of other fish. The moving sidewalk takes up half the tunnel. It moves slowly enough that no-one will feel rushed, but those who want to linger even longer can step off the moving section easily.

Dangerous Lagoon, including the 96m-long moving sidewalk, Ripley's AquariumDangerous Lagoon, including the 96m-long moving sidewalk, image by Craig White

In Dangerous Lagoon, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, TorontoIn Dangerous Lagoon, image by Craig White

In Dangerous Lagoon, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, TorontoDangerous Lagoon, including the 96m-long moving sidewalk, image by Craig White

In Dangerous Lagoon, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, TorontoIn Dangerous Lagoon, image by Craig White

In Dangerous Lagoon, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, TorontoDangerous Lagoon, including the 96m-long moving sidewalk, image by Craig White

There are portholes and mini-subs built in to strategic points specifically designed for children, and the kids in attendance today were quite blown-away by it all. Many exhibits allow them to learn while playing, and these include models of locks, and touch pools with Horseshoe Crabs, Bamboo Sharks, and Rays.

Tanks showing particular species include one for venomous fish, electric eels, sea horses, sea dragons, cuttlefish, archerfish and mudskippers, and everyone's favourite, piranhas, as per below.

Piranhas, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, TorontoPiranhas, image by Craig White

Planet Jellies is another showcase area of the facility, with a number of species. While the world's largest kreisel tank—a specially made round tank without corners that could injure delicate creatures—contains Moon Jellies (not shown), other tanks shown below include Pacific Sea Nettles (usually with pale orange bells, accented by red light below), and the colourless Australian Spotted Jellies. 

 checking out the Pacific Sea Nettles, Ripley's Aquarium of CanadPlanet Jellies: checking out the Pacific Sea Nettles, image by Craig White

 Pacific Sea Nettles, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, TorontoPlanet Jellies: Pacific Sea Nettles, image by Craig White

 Australian Spotted Jellies, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, TorontoPlanet Jellies: Australian Spotted Jellies, image by Craig White

One of the last sights on the tour is a visit to the aquarium's Life Support Systems gallery, showing the massive equipment that keeps the water in the facility clean and oxygenated.

Life Support Systems gallery, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada, TorontoLife Support Systems gallery, image by Craig White

There is much, much more to see than is shown in these photos. Someone pressed for time could appreciate most of the exhibits in an hour, but a couple hours will give most people time to slow down and enjoy it all more thoroughly. We expect the aquarium will be a significant hit. There is parking in the surrounding blocks, but be smart and walk or take transit to the area.

Want to know more about Ripley's Aquarium of Canada? Check out our dataBase file for the project, linked below. Want to talk about it? Choose the associated Forum thread link, or leave your comments in the space provided on this page.