The Trent Severn Waterway

July1-9,2016 – Mike and Ann arrived in Trenton as we start the Trent Severn Waterway. It was good to have Mike on board again.    He greatly assisted us in moving the boat to the Savannah area right after we purchased it in Florida.  An adventure of it’s own!

The Trent Severn starts on Lake Ontario (ish) in Trenton, Canada and goes 240 miles to Port Severn Canada, on Georgian Bay.  Originally planned as a military route, it quickly became a trade route.   Started in 1833, but was built in fits and starts, taking until 1920 to complete.   It is a combination of lakes,  rivers, and canals with over 40 locks of many types.   The Trent is a national historic site, used almost exclusively for recreation purposes today.

The day we were departing was Canada Day – O’Canada!!!   Expecting a big crowd we plan to leave early and head to Campbellford, about 60 miles away.

Leaving Trent Port Marina (by far the nicest marina we stayed at, brand new and a town dock), you go through a series of what for us are now “regular” locks.   They are a combination of hand operated and mechanically driven.   Most are in the 4 ft to 25 ft range and we are climbing so going in the low side and exiting from a full lock.

One thing we didn’t appreciate was how slowly we would have to travel.    Often the canals have 6 mph speed limits, and there are many lake houses and docks along the way which we have to slow for.   Getting to Campbellford turned out to be relatively easy, not the crowds we expected at all from Canada day!  Campbellford is a quiet town.   It does however, have this fantastic bakery that has all sorts of good stuff and clearly produced baked goods for other stores and restaurants.   Fabulous – when we entered there were probably 10 lemon meringue pies cooling on the counter!   We stayed at the city dock along with some of the folks we have travelled all day with.    Once you are in a lock together the speed limits and such tend to keep you bunched up.    It’s actually pretty fun as you get to know other fellow boaters, some local, some loopers like us.

Departing Campbellford, we travelled to Peterbourough, which is a pretty big town.   The Peterborough town dock was busy, with many locals and some transients.  Arriving there was a strong afternoon breeze blowing, and we were very fortunate to have some alcohol infused  locals who were partying on the dock give us instructions on docking.   Very helpful – NOT!   There was also a concert going on within 50 yards of the boat. “Mother Earth” was playing some 80’s rock vibe, and lots of people around along with food trucks, etc.   Interesting.   The next morning, by 9 AM the park was immaculate – those Canucks had it under control, eh?

We stayed in Peterborough for a day, touring a great art museum, along with a local history museum that included an exhibit about sunken ships on the great lakes.   Turns out over 400 ships have sunk that are recorded through the years, with the Edmund Fitzgerald being one of the most prominent.   The lakes can really whip up a storm, especially in winter!

Peterborough’s lock is a special one.   Called a hydraulic lock, it has 2 “tubs” of water that can hold about 4-6 of our boat (they are big tubs) that go up and down on water filled hydraulic cylinders.   The upper tub is filled with 1 foot more water than the low one, and provides the extra weight to drive it downward.    The hydraulic cylinders have a pipe that connects them, and a valve controls the flow rate and thus the rate of descent/ascent of the tub.   It’s way harder to explain than to understand once you see it.   In any case, we went up the lock with 3 other boats, and it was one of the most unique experiences.    The lock rises 65 feet, so spectacular to see and do.    Naturally, the lock and park around it draws a crowd to watch, and it’s well worth it!

After the lock, we go through a series of small lakes, rivers, and canals to get to Bobcaygen (Bob-K-Gin).   The town is small but the waterway and docks were crowded.   In this area we saw a number of pretty big houseboats.   They are popular to rent for vacations and the ones beside us were about 48 feet long.  As rentals, the drivers of these big boats are often not very experienced, and the lock attendants can tell many stories of these guys going through the locks!


We also reconnected with Archie and Jan, who are from Wrightsville Beach, NC.    Nice folks, we have seen them over the last weeks, not always traveling together, but intersect at various spots.    It’s fun to meet folks from our part of the country.

From Bobcaygen, we went to Orillia, which is on lake Simcoe.    Lake Simcoe is a pretty large lake, and popular for boaters.   Orillia is a nice town.   Tomorrow, we hope to get to Port Severn, and go through the Big Chute Lock, which is a railroad lock.



More to come!



Categories: Uncategorized


  1. Bet that bakery was a couple of lemon meringue pies short when you left! Also, I actually know the guy that handled the Jones Act claims for the crew that was sadly lost on the Edmund Fitzgerald. They think the cause was a couple of rogue waves that caused the bow and stern to both be on crests of waves and the weight of the boat cracked it in the middle. Can’t wait ’til you hit open water again and Fred is looking forward to seeing the pictures from Mackinaw! Seafox


  2. Those tub locks were pretty impressive!


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