Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trent Severn Waterway, Part 2

July 12-14, 2012

As we prepared to leave Peterborough Marina, we were excited to be heading toward one of the highlights of the trip, the Peterborough lift lock. There were so many Loopers in the marina that we decided not to even try to be among the first to leave in the morning, as there would be an inevitable delay at the lock.  So we hung around in the morning, with Craig walking to town to do some errands and me staying on board to write a blog or two. At 12:30, the marina staff called ahead to the lock to check the status, and we were told if we came in the next few minutes, we could get right in.

First we went through the traditional lock just off the lake, and about a half mile later the famous lift lock came into view.  The Peterborough lock is the largest hydraulic lift lock in the world, with a 65-foot vertical lift.  The lock is a huge concrete fortress with two side-by-side chambers. Each chamber holds a container that looks like a giant rectangular cake pan.  As you approach the lock, one pan is down, at water level, and the other is 65 feet in the air, held up by a huge piston. We waited just a few minutes while the lock staff organized the two small boats that were entering the upper chamber from upstream (of course, we couldn’t see them as they were 65 feet overhead). Then we entered the lower chamber and tied our lines to the rails. 

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After the gate behind us locked in place, the lock crew let an extra foot of water (weighing 130 tons) into the upper chamber.  That extra weight caused the upper chamber to descend while our chamber – with our boat and us in it – rose.  Within about 90 seconds, we were at the top and the other chamber was at the bottom. It was a thrilling ride and an amazing thing to see, even more so from on board your own boat.  It was also one of the easiest locks we had experienced.  Once you’ve tied up, you can just stand back and watch it all happen.


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The very congenial lock staff offered to take pictures of us on the top. It was so much fun we really would have liked to turn around and do it again, but we kept moving along.


Because we got a late start, we didn’t go much further that day. We went through five more locks and stayed at the lock wall above Lock 26 at the town of Lakefield. We found Moon River, Memory Maker, Charlene Rae and Paddy Wagon already there.  We took the dogs for a walk into town where Craig’s built-in radar led us to the combination ice cream-fudge shop. It was a very hot day and the friendly owners insisted we bring the dogs inside for the air-conditioning and a bowl of water.  Good move on their part.  We ended up buying fudge and ice cream and two of those “cooler collars” for the dogs – you put them in the fridge overnight and supposedly they keep the dog cool for 5-7 hours.  Don’t know if it works, but the dogs don’t seem to mind them, so they can’t hurt.  We also bought red and white Canada flag lawn chairs. We’re really getting into the spirit, eh?  That night we also finally found our pickerel/walleye at a small family-owned restaurant.  It was good!

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The next morning we continued on, planning to stay at the Buckhorn lock wall for the night.  Along the way we passed through some very narrow places and several beautiful lakes.

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Most of the lakes and rivers of the Trent Severn are lined with cottages.  Some are small and rustic, others are new and huge.  Many are the only house on a small island.  “Cottaging” is a way of life up here.

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This was an unusual “cottage.” It was a glass box with no curtains or shades and just a few interior walls for privacy.  Its deck looked like a giant round aluminum patio table, and the house had what appeared to be a stuffed miniature horse in the front window. We could see the woman in the house making the morning coffee. Craig thought it looked hideously out of place, but I thought it was probably pretty neat from the inside looking out.


We also passed St. Peter’s-on-the-Rock Anglican Church, built in 1914 and still holding Sunday services, but only in July and August.  The church has a small boat dock for the cottagers who come to worship.


We also passed through several pretty locks that day. The first, Young’s Point, had a little gift and ice cream shop beside the lock.  The local ice cream in this area is Kawartha, and their pink cone signs are everywhere.  We have done enough sampling to give our stamp of approval!

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An exceptionally picturesque lock was #30, Lovesick Lock.  There are two local legends about how Lovesick Lake and its lock got their name.  One version is that they are named for the tragically unrequited love of Polly Cow, the beautiful daughter of Chief Handsome Jack Cow, a native chief in the early 1800s. The other theory is that a young native man was rejected by an immigrant Irish girl and he paddled off to an island to die of a broken heart until his friends found him and brought him home.

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Either way, today Lovesick lock is a beautiful spot on a small island.  The lockkeepers have to take a boat to work.  We considered tying up and walking across the dam to take a walk in the adjacent Wolf Island Provincial Park.  But after the lockmaster told us about the overgrown, unmarked trails, the bears and the poison ivy, we decided to give it a pass. It was pretty to look at, though.

That afternoon we tied up on the wall above the Buckhorn lock, a justifiably popular spot. We had lunch at an outdoor, dog-friendly restaurant just beyond the lock wall.  Joey enjoyed sneaking bits of poutine (french fries with cheese curds and gravy) from the nice ladies at the next table.  They asked the server for a doggie box to send their leftovers home with us.


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After lunch and a walk into town, David and Barbara from Memory Maker told us about a public swimming hole they had discovered just past our boats.  So all of us went for a refreshing swim on another hot day.

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After docktails with the other Loopers, Craig grilled steaks and we had a wonderful picnic right next to the boat.  Buckhorn was a great stop!


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Next, on to Bobcaygeon and a visit from friend Kathy!

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