The journey through the Trent Severn waterway was worth waiting two extra years for Canada to open up its waterways to US boaters. We left Trenton Ontario, on Monday, July 19 at 8:30 AM to get into position for the first lock. Things went smoothly and we traveled through nine more locks choosing to tie up for the night on the Lock 11 entrance Wall. The Canadian locks designate a waiting area by painting a part of a concrete wall blue. They do not use two-way radios to communicate with boaters like US locks do, rather if you want to lock through, you tie up to the "blue line" wall as your signal to them. Because they are only open from 9 AM to 5:30 PM, you can tie up to the wall after hours and be first in line the next morning.
The Trent waterway was opened in 1920. In order to connect all the rivers and lakes, the Canadians engineered some very unique solutions. There are two lift locks that look like giant "balanced scales...one at Peterborough and one at Kirkfield. Each moves boats up or down 60 feet in less than two minutes. You literally drive into a large swimming pool, then they raise up the end gate, and then as the upper chamber goes down the lower chamber, or "pool", goes up. The other engineering marvel reminded Conrad of the great spider machine from the movie "Wild,Wild West." The rail car system at Big Chute, Ontario has a flatbed rail car that dips down into the water, you drive your boat in between the outside vertical beams, a lock operator raises large straps under the boat, and the whole car traverses a 60 foot hill. When it reaches the water on the other side, you simply drive away from the rail car. Linda really enjoyed not having to secure the boat for this lock. Conrad was quite nervous because nearly 1/2 of WaterMarks was hanging out the back of the rail car.
In total, WaterMarks traveled 240 miles and went through 44 locks over 12 days to complete the Trent Severn arriving in Midland Ontario on August 1. The waterway consists of a combination of rivers, lakes and man-made canals and is spectacular in scenery. Some of the canals connecting lakes were so narrow that you signaled to other boaters that you were coming through because there was not enough room for two boats to pass side by side. One big surprise was the density of homes and development along all of the waterway of the Trent. Canadians clearly love their short summer boating season. One special activity was on Friday, July 29, being able to see the stage play "Driving Miss Daisy" at the Orillia Ontario Opera House. This was a really well done production with well credentialed actors and it made for a delightful evening.
As members of the Americas Great Loop Cruisers Association, we have followed a raging debate regarding Canadian butter tarts. This very humorously polarized debate pits tart lovers against haters. Well, this crew comes squarely off on the side of tart lovers in this debate. These tarts are essentially miniature pecan pies. Who doesn't love pecan pie with your morning coffee?!
We left Midland Ontario on August 3 and traveled 160 miles across the Georgian Bay (of Lake Huron) stopping at Henry's Fish Restaurant, located on Frying Pan Island, then to Wright's Marina in Britt, Ontario, and arrived in Killarney, Ontario on August 5. (Killarney is considered the entrance to the North Channel, our next segment.) This waterway is breathtaking for its rugged red granite exterior (part of the Canadian Shield which covers most of Canada) and clear water. It is also a large body of water and kicks up some nasty swells that rocked WaterMarks for much of the day on August 4. The entire trip through Canada has been replete with other hazards. The captain must stay totally tuned in to the marked channels, the maps, and the wind and current conditions at all times. There are no soft bottoms. Everything is rocky and threatening, but oh so beautiful.