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Trent-Severn Waterway – Campbellford to Lake Simcoe

Posted by on June 21, 2013

The section from Campbellford to Lake Simcoe represents the heart of the TSW and includes the Kawartha Lakes, in classic Ontario cottage country.  The amount of boat traffic has increased as the weather (mostly) improved and June progressed, however the locks have still been far from full and waiting for other vessels minimal.

One unexpected two day wait showed up when our port engine began to start intermittently (usually when we were just about to enter a lock!). Although His Idea is very easy to handle with two engines it’s very difficult with just one, so when it acted up again at one of the locks in Peterborough we decided it was time to address the problem. Lucky for us, James Power (our PDQ wizard) lives only about 100 miles away. In typical customer-friendly fashion he was able to quickly diagnose the problem over the phone, source a replacement part in a few hours (the last one available in North America), have it overnighted to his place in Victoria Harbour, and drive to our location and install it the next day. Thank you James!

Fortunately Peterborough is the largest city along our TSW route, and there was lots to do. We’re finding the towns and cities along the way have many parks and well developed walking and/or biking paths – Peterborough in particular – and we were able to gets lots of exercise during our four day stay. If one is going to have a breakdown, this was a great place to do it.

We were particularly looking forward to our experiences with the Peterborough and Kirkfield lift locks, which are outstanding examples of 19th century innnovation and endurance, and they did not disapoint. Simply put, they use balanced pans of water situated on hydraulic rams that simultaneously raise and lower upbound and downboard vessels. Quickly and smoothly riding up (or down), peering over the edge some 65 feet to the ground, is a real hoot. Hopefully our pictures do them justice.

This section has been quite varied in its topography, very pretty, and most enjoyable.  At Balsam Lake we reached the summit of the TSW, 840 feet above sea level and almost 600 feet higher than where we began on Lake Ontario. At the Kirkfield Lift Lock we began our descent, which will be a total drop of about 260 feet to Lake Huron.

Next we are looking forward to crossing Lake Simcoe, visiting Orillia (summer home of Stephen Leacock and the setting for Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town), travelling the Big Chute Marine Railway, and then Georgian Bay.

Here come the pictures…..

We've now entered cottage country - like the Thousand Islands, multi-coloured Adirondack chairs abound.

We’ve now entered cottage country; like the Thousand Islands, multi-coloured Adirondack chairs abound.

There's lots of wildlife to be seen along the TSW - we came upon this big fellow when strolling near one of the locks.

There’s lots of wildlife to be seen along the TSW – we came upon this big fellow when walking near the Hastings lock.

Just before Peterborough, at the Scotts Mills lock.

Just before Peterborough, at the Scotts Mills lock.

Approaching the  Peterborough marina, on Little Lake.

Approach to the Peterborough marina, on Little Lake.

The Peterborough Lift Lock, completed in 1904, is the highest in the world (65 ft rise in elevation).

The Peterborough Lift Lock, completed in 1904, is the highest in the world (65 ft change in elevation).

For over 100 years Peterborough was world renowned for the manufacture of traditional canoes; for anyone interested in paddling, the Canoe Museum is a fascinating place.

For over 100 years Peterborough was world-renowned for the manufacture of traditional wooden canoes; for anyone interested in paddling, the Canoe Museum is a very interesting place.

The Ashburnham lock, in a quiet part of Peterborough, was our unintended home for a couple of days while awaiting a replacement part for the port engine.

The Ashburnham lock, in a quiet part of Peterborough, was our unintended home for a couple of days while awaiting a replacement part for the port engine.

A view from the top of the Peterborough Loft Lock (in very rainy weather).

A view from the top of the Peterborough Loft Lock (in very rainy weather).

The Kawartha Lakes section was very pretty, with many small islands, narrow channels.....and hard granite lurking underneath.

The Kawartha Lakes section was very pretty, with many small islands, narrow channels…..and hard granite lurking underneath.

Some new cruising friends, MIke & Barb Harbin, with their 34 American Tug; Mike & Barb hail from the Olympic Peninsula.

Some new cruising friends, MIke & Barb Harbin, with their 34 American Tug; Mike & Barb hail from the Olympic Peninsula.

On this very narrow cut, we could reach out and touch the trees on either side.

On this very narrow cut, we could reach out and touch the trees on either side.

Looking over the abyss - although not quite as high, the Kirkfield Lift Lock  was another spectactular ride.

Looking over the abyss – although not quite as high, the Kirkfield Lift Lock was another spectactular ride.

Sunset scene at Portage lock, just before Lake Simcoe - so peaceful.....

Sunset scene at Portage lock, just before Lake Simcoe – so peaceful…..

One Response to Trent-Severn Waterway – Campbellford to Lake Simcoe

  1. Doug

    Loved the picture of the narrow channel, where you could touch trees on both sides! Not sure I would have been comfortable heading down it. Actually, I know I wouldn’t have been! The hydraulic lifts are amazing.

    Doug

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