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Some Background About the Trent-Severn
The Trent-Severn Waterway extends about 240 miles from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay. As
we cruise the waterway we will pass through 44 locks, some of them very unusual. We will rise 65 feet in the highest
hydraulic lift lock in the world, and we will be transported in a sling on a railway car carrying us over a granite mountain.
During the first part of our trip, we will rise 600 feet in elevation, then we will drop a bit over 200
feet as we approach the entrance to Georgian Bay, which is 576 feet above sea level. Along the way, we will pass through
lakes, rivers, wetlands, and narrow rock-strewn canals. Much of the route is rural or wooded, with a few towns and little
cities scattered along the way, many of them rooted in a history as mill towns or lumbering outposts.
Unlike the Rideau and the Chambley Canals, the Trent-Severn Canal was not built with a single-minded purpose
-- there was no fear of American aggression to provide a sense of urgency for its contruction. Consequently, construction
of the waterway was spread out over almost 90 years, beginning in 1833.
When hydroelectric power generation came of age just after the turn of the twentieth century, the Waterway
got a huge boost, as the government realized the value of building hydroelectric dams with locks. As soon as the project could
pay for itself, the Waterway was quickly completed. The official opening of the full waterway
was July 20, 1920.
Highlights from our trip on the Trent-Severn Waterway:
Happy Fourth of July in Frankford (7.3 miles, 6 locks rising 117 feet): We traveled with
Carl and Madonna on Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-lee, meaning an Irish celebration) and Roxanne and Lenny on Summertime.
After taking four hours to go just 7.3 miles in hot and humid weather, we decided to tie up at the wall above
our sixth lock and have some lunch on a picnic table in the shade of a big willow tree. It was such a nice spot, we
just decided to stay overnight.
After lunch, Dick and I bicycled our laundry into town -- Dick used eight bunegee cords to secure the bulging
laundry bag to his bike carrier. The laundramat was connected to a convenience store with an ice cream parlor, so we
chilled out with ice cream while our clothes spun.
Roxanne, retired after thirty years as a kindergarten teacher, brought Fourth of July decorations and sparklers
to share. Although we weren't sure we could all stay awake until dark, we just made it, burning our sparklers as night
fell, then all immediately retiring to our boats just before 10 p.m.
July 5, Healey Falls (29 miles, 9 locks rising 188 feet): It took us eight soggy hours
to travel 29 miles in rain showers alternating with brief clearing periods today. Our slow pace was due to lots of locks
plus a long stop in Campbellford to refuel and pump out at a place reputed to have the best diesel prices on the Waterway.
All the Loopers from Trenton that leapfrogged by us when we stopped at Frankford were tied up in Campbellford.
We opted to continue on to a free lock wall, and continued upstream with Ceilidh, while Summertime stayed
behind in Campbellford for a "quick welding repair" that turned out to keep them there overnight.
When we got to our overnight mooring destination, boaters who had their runabouts parked on the wall
jumped up from their relaxing and moved their boats to make room for us and Ceilidh on the wall, then grabbed our
lines and helped us tie up. We were most grateful for their kindness.
We had a relaxing afternoon in this quiet spot -- a turning basin between two sets of locks. We shared
cocktail hour with Madonna and Carl, ate dinner on the flybridge with a spectacular view of the start to the sunset,
and retired early, exhausted from a long day of rainy cruising and locking through.
|Healey Falls Flight Lock
July 6 -- Hastings (15 miles, 3 locks for 63 foot rise): After a leisurely morning
bird walk, we cast off and cruised with Ceilidh to Hastings. Because we had moored overnight on the walls of
a turning basin between locks, our first locks of the day were just minutes away.
This is a picture of Ceilidh in front of us in the Healey Falls hydraulic flight locks. The door looks
huge, because it is the front gate to our lock and the back gate to the lock we rose into. Together the two locks lifted
us 54 feet. The lock above us, behind these doors, was filled with water when we entered the first lock. After
the doors we entered were closed behind us, water from the lock above us was released into our lock chamber. When the
level of the water in the chamber above us equaled the water level in our chamber, the big door in front of us opened, we
moved forward into the next chamber, and the big door closed behind us. Then water was let into the second lock from
the open water ahead, until the level of the water in the lock reached the level of the open water, and we were on our way.
Our journey took us up the Trent River and through long lakes with lots of rocky islands. There were marshy
areas along the shore, and purple loosestrife, considered an invasive species, but still very beautiful to me, bloomed amid
the cattails. In still waters we could see white and yellow waterlilies among densely packed lilypads.
There were lots of cottages -- in all sizes and states of repair -- many flying the Canadian flag.
We saw a bald eagle perched majestically on a bare pine limb, and another one soaring overhead.
We tied up at the lock wall in Hastings at luchtime, leaving us the afternoon to explore the town,
which had a great hardware store, a well-stocked grocery, a wine store across the street from the boat, and lots of family
We spent a long time at a Redtail paddle factory store, contemplating the purchase of one made of fancy
woods or with a hand-painted loon on the blade. Ultimately we passed, but the looking was fun.
As we were finishing up cocktail hour with Ceilidh and trying to decide where to eat, Summertime
emerged from the lock. We got them safely tied up, admired their newly welded stanchions, and renewed the discussion
about where we might dine. When we were getting close to moving, Puddle Jumper popped out of the lock, and
we set about figuring out where to fit them on the by now crowded mooring wall. They rafted to Ceilidh, and
we all set off for dinner together. Since it was nearing 8 pm, and several of the local restaurants closed at 7, our
decision-making was simplified.
We caught up on each other's adventures since last we were together (we last spent time with the Puddle
Jumpers way back in Waterford), and had a great dinner, even though the food iself was just average.
We are relishing our return to the floating fellowship of Great Loop Cruisers.
July 7-8 Hastings to Peterborough (39 miles, 1 lock rising 8 feet), and an extra day in Peterborough:
The Ceiligh, Summertime and Starsong crews began the day with bargain breakfasts at the one restaurant in
town open at 6 a.m., The Pit. Then we all set off for Peterborough.
Our voyage was one of contrasts. First we traveled the wide waters of Rice Lake under sunny skies
and a following wind that kicked the lake up into little whitecaps. The lake was lined with cottages, and full of fishing
boats heedless of the marked channels.
After about 15 miles of cruising up the lake, we turned into the narrow channel leading to the Otanabee
River. The river was narrow, winding, and had rocky shores. It also had several spots marked "rocks awash" on the
chart, indicating that straying outside the channel could be hazardous.
We arrived in Peterborough in the early afternoon. I was excited to discover that finally we had a
Verizon signal back again, and I could update our website. The last place we had a signal was Kingston, so I had a lot
of catching up to do. We were also excited to discover that one of our favorite couples from the Beaufort Rondezvous
whom we hadn't seen since Beaufort were here -- Rick and Connie on Cori.
I worked on the website, Dick did some boat maintenance, then I went out to explore the town a bit with
Madonna and Roxanne. We found a fabric store, and managed to spend quite a while there. Then we went ot the Visitor
Information Center for maps and brochures and such.
By then we were cutting into cocktail hour, so we scurried back to the marina and had our by now habitual
pre-dinner gathering. Then Dick and I split off to join Rick and Connie, their boat guests, and Dale and Brenda
from With-A-K for dinner.
Summertime and Ceiligh moved on, but we stayed an extra day in Peterborough, because it
was a great town and we had a lot of things we wanted to do here. We rode our bikes up to the unique lift lock we will
go through when we leave Peterborough, so we could watch other boats go through it. We visited the excellent museum
at the lock and watched its half hour film on the Trent-Severn Waterway. The film was packed with information
on history, geology, and engineering aspects of the Waterway. No doubt, some of what we learned will dribble out further
along in these pages.
We found two geocaches at the locks, and later rode our bikes to a beautiful park full of walking and hiking
trails in all sorts of habitats, where we found two more caches. This is a hilly town--we were using our bike gears
for good exercise on our rides! In all, we rode to six caches before the day was done.
More Loopers made their way into the marina as the day went on, and we had a potluck dinner with people
from half a dozen boats. A Blues Festival was going on next door, and the music wafted over to our picnic area in the
Because we plan to leave tomorrow, Dick and I will miss a big concert in the park, part of the city's summer
Festival of Lights. We hear there are so many people at these concerts you can't see the lawn. We can count on
hearing about what we missed from the rest of the Loopers here. We are the only ones leaving tomorrow.
Click here to continue with us on the Trent-Severn Waterway.