Trent Severn Waterway (TSW) Part 2

Leaving the Peterborough Lock behind, we conquered Locks 23, 24, 25 and 26 and stopped for the night at Burleigh Falls anchorage.  The next day we traveled to Bobcaygeon planning to go through Lock 32. Upon our arrival, we learned the lock was broken.   We tied up on the wall below the lock and planned to stay the night waiting for it to be fixed.  Later when we came back from town, we saw the lock staff manually opening the gate with a rope and letting a house boat through.  We asked if we could get through and after a consultation, they said yes.  So, we were able to lock through past Lock 32 which allowed us to leave early in the morning.   Several people (and our research books) told us about a very large clothing/shoe store in Bobcaygeon called Bigley’s.  It has more shoes than we have seen anywhere! Teresa scored on a pinkish-red sweatshirt with the words “Canada 150” and Steve found a “Canada 150” tee shirt in town. Both commemorate the country’s 150th anniversary.  Lock 32, we tied up along the wall just after the lock. Steve was thrilled because just across the street they sold Canada’s ever popular Kawartha at Flo’s Loch Ness Ice Cream and Restaurant.

Lock #35 is the highest point in the TSW (Trent Severn waterway).   Balsam Lake is the highest point in the world that a boat can travel to from the ocean under its own power.  All the locks up to Lock #35 had been lifting Sanctuary.  The next series of locks will lower Sanctuary a total of 260 feet by the time we arrive in Georgian Bay.

Most of the locks are conventional style with opening doors that allow a walled area to fill or drain to move the vessel to the next level.   There are three special locks on the TSW: the Peterborough Lock, the Kirkfield Lock and the Big Chute Railway.   Both the Kirkfield and Peterborough locks use movable tubs to lift and lower vessels.

The Big Chute loads the boats on a rail car which then travels over a road and down a long hill.  We stayed at the Big Chute Marina which is within sight of the Big Chute Railway. It was cool to be able to just walk over to Big Chute and watch other boats motor into the sling and go over the road and down the steep hill back into the water on the other side. We took pictures and observed from a deck above the operation. Still somewhat frightening! We sure hoped they knew what they were doing and wouldn’t drop us the next day when we planned to lock through.

Our daughter Amanda joined us in Orillia where we stayed a few nights at the newly opened Port of Orillia marina. This is a huge marina with new floating docks, boater’s lounge, fancy restrooms-showers, and soon-to-be hooked up state of the art washers and dryers.  We were so excited to have Amanda travel with us through the last series of locks, walk through the Farmer’s Market, and experience the trip together.  She arrived at o’dark 30 Friday morning braving tumultuous downpouring of rain, lightening, no cell/map service, and customs in a foreign land. Oh, happy day in Canada when she arrived! Thanks to a kind soul in a gas station near the border who let her use the WIFI to call us. Thankfully, she was immediately able to get Verizon international service and let us know her progress. She grabbed a paper map (old school still has its benefits) of Ontario and circled her route to us in Orillia.

It was great fun to be able to show her some locks and complete the last lock of this trip with her on board.  She was with us for the very first one in Chicago and the last one at Port Severn Lock #45.  For us, we were excited to be done with locks! Now we can enjoy lock free Georgian Bay and the North Channel. At the final Lock #45, we talked with the dock staff and told them this was our last lock. They were very much interested in where we came from and how long we’d been on the trip. Since it was our final lock, we asked them to take pictures of the three of us and the boat while still sitting in the lock. We’ve found the Trent-Severn Waterway staff to be most kind, informative, and extremely helpful. This group was no exception. We felt like we celebrated with them right there!

While we were in Orillia, we participated in a Scottish Festival complete with numerous Scottish clan bands, bagpipes and drums, sheep herding demonstrations, and mini railroad train rides.  There are 150 large maple leaf art pieces around town to commemorate the 150-year celebration for Canada. We saw many of them and couldn’t help taking some pictures of the artists’ creativity.

There were a number of loopers at Orillia so we had to have looper docktails.

Looper Docktails

After the locks were completed, we traveled across the bay to Midland Ontario.  Steve traveled by car back to Orillia to retrieve Amanda’s car so she would be able to return home.  We enjoyed our time with her visiting, but unfortunately all good things must come to an end since need to return for work.

The rest of this trip will be bays and inlets on Georgian Bay, the North Channel, Lake Huron, and finally Lake Michigan.  Not all our travels will be in open water. Some of the time we will follow the small boat channel route which is anything but wide-open water.  Often the route winds around and through skinny channels making it tricky and wise to keep eyes on the charts and the depths very closely.


Lock 32 Bobcaygeon



              Are we entering the twilight zone….





Trent Severn Waterway very narrow in places……


Kirkfield Lift Lock


Orillia Maple Leaves


Orillia Scottish Festival


Lock 42 and Lock 43 Swift Rapids


Big Chute



Last Lock,  number 45 of the TSW






The next update will be about Georgian Bay

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