On Friday July 25th, 2014 BB and crew left the confines of the New York State Erie Canal system at Oswego, NY, and the USA, and entered another foreign country with the blessings of the Ontario, Canada Parks Department. It will take us about six weeks to pass through three distinct regions of Ontario – The Trent-Severn Waterway (TSW), Georgian Bay, and the North Channel as we take Beulah Belle to our northern-most destinations on our Great Loop Cruise. This posting of our “Where In The World Is Beulah Belle” blog update will show the sights, and try to describe the friendliness of so many people that have blessed us on our travel through Canada. This posting will include the first half of our TSW cruise to Lakefield, Ontario. A second posting will finish the TSW at Port Severn. The TSW makes up about the first one third of the 800 miles we will cruise in Canada.
Making new friends has been the one constant that has been the most positive aspect of our travels, not only in Canada, but everywhere we have been so far. It seems everyday we have met someone, and many days several, that have helped us with directions, or just had a friendly and honest conversation about how things are going, had a meal together, or simply wishing each other safe travels and rum drinks. I’ll let the pics and comments tell the rest of the story, and include some details from our daily log at a later update.We arrived into Canada at Kingston, Ontario which is at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, and sits at the western end of the St Lawrence Seaway – not the direction of our travel on this trip. We’ll be going west and north through the Treat-Severn Waterway, then into Georgian Bay (the shallow and rocky north-east corner of Lake Huron, and then the North Channel of Lake Huron before re-entering the USA near Mackinac Island, Michigan. Kingston is a very modern city and a government center. We came into Canada here on the suggestion that Customs and Immigration clearance would be simpler as compared to entering at Trenton about 60 miles to the west. Checking in was only a phone call, and receiving a CANPASS identification number that we had to post on an outside window of our boat visible to the various lock-masters.We arrived Kingston a bit late in the day, and were very fortunate to get the last available transient slip at Confederation Marina – $88/nt.
We left Kingston after one night, and headed for Trenton to enter the Trent-Severn Waterway. The weather forecast was for wind and rain to find us later in the afternoon, so we opted to find a nice and protected anchorage at Hay Bay. We spent two days here waiting for the weather to clear.
This is a mural painting of the TSW. Trenton is in the lower right corner, and Port Severn and the Big Chute Lock is in the upper left corner.
We were greeted to the Trent-Severn Waterway at the highway bridge in Trenton. We did not stop here – we had already cleared Canadian Customs and Immigration at Kingston, but did stop about a mile further on at Lock #1 to get passes for the season.
This is the entrance – west bound – to the TSW Lock #1. The TSW locks are very similar to those on the Erie Canal, but a bit narrower, shorter, and shallower, and most of them are manually operated.
This is Beulah Belle inside TSW Lock #1 as Capt Mary and Engr Wally pay our lock passage ($204) and mooring ($431) fees – get our stickers, and put them on our starboard side forward window.
Most of the locks are manually operated – a few, especially those further west that are much busier with local boater traffic, are automated with hydraulic systems to open and close the gates and valves. Here the lock-master is walking the rack and pinion gear around to open one of the lock gates. Usually there would be two folks running the locks, but a couple of times one person would have to open one gate and then go to the other side to open the other gate. The whole process would take between 20 and 30 minutes. At a hydraulic lock the time could be 15-20 minutes.
The folks that live along the waterway generally took very good care of their property. And usually every house had a dock, and this went on for the entire length of the TSW.
Here BB is entering Lock #11, one of the highest locks on the TSW. It is about 40′ high, and, it is combined with another lock – sharing the center gate -they call it a flight lock. There were two sets of these flight locks (#11/12 and #16/17) along the TSW.
Here BB is leaving the upper flight lock #12, and having to wait while the lock master opens the swing bridge for us to be able to travel on.
One of our favorite towns on the TSW was Campbellford. The town let us tie up to go to lunch and do a bit of shopping, but would charge an additional fee for staying overnight. We had lunch at the “Be My Guest” Slovakian restaurant, went to the bakery, and moved on to Healey Falls Lock #17 for our overnight. All of the locks had places to tie up overnight, and the cost for doing this was included in our $431 mooring fee. The lock nearest Campbellford was not convenient to town which made the town dock very busy. Some of the locks were convenient to a nearby town, but most of them were in rural areas, very quiet and peaceful. The only issues came on the weekends when the local folks would get to their favorite local and camp out for the weekend.
Another of the many beautiful homes along the TSW.
This is the first of two lift locks on the TSW. This one is at Peterborough, and was completed in 1904. Instead of having gates the lift locks operate with two “pans” that have hinged doors that open and close from the ends of the pan that let you enter and leave the pan. The pans are about the size of a normal lock, and the two pans alternate going up or down by having one weigh about 100 tons more than the other – the one being lifted will have about 1′ less water inside making it lighter so it goes up while the heavier one goes down. The trick is a huge guide pin over the center of each pan that goes into a hollowed out hole in the base of the lock. These locks raised BB about 65′, and were actually the easiest to get into and pass through – a simple cleat to tie the boat to while inside, and no nasty cables to hold onto, or swirling current that always wants to twist the boat while you are going up or down.
This is the view of BB entering Peterborough Lock #21. Yes, that is a boat inside the pan on the right waiting for their door to open and let them travel on.
This is the tourist view of Peterborough Lock with boats in both pans. We took the time between rain storms to go through the visitor center, and to walk up the steps to watch the lock operate. While taking this picture we asked the lock-master if the rain was going to let us lock through, and he said that if we could make it down by the time the lock was down, then he would let us lock through. We did it barely – the problem was the lock doesn’t operate during thunderstorms (yes another was on its way), and there was no over-night mooring below the lock where we had BB tied up to visit the museum. The weather held off, we got the engines going, and the lines untied in record quick time, did our passage, and tied up 65′ higher and about 200 yards further west on the south side of the upper lock wall (a very quiet location eventhough we were only a few blocks away from Peterborough). The lock-master offered us his car should we want to go to town and not get wet because of the rain. The folks were always friendly, and his genuine kindness was much appreciated.
Meet Steve and Cathy from “Chinook”. We met at the lock wall in Hastings, and went to lunch together at Banjos. Steve and Cathy were from Keswick near Toronto, and were taking a summer vacation touring the TSW. They were very helpful in recommending locks and towns to visit as we continued west on the TSW.
Here BB is approaching Lock #23 at Otonabee – we’re just past half way through the 44 locks on the TSW.
Here BB is inside lock #26 at Lakefield. The lock-masters are two young ladies, and in the pic they are opening the valves to let upstream water into the lock with BB to raise us to the higher level above the lock.
Lakefield was one of our favorite towns along the TSW. The mooring just above lock #26 was in a typical park-like setting, and town was no more than three blocks away – very convenient, and very nice. A real grocery store, nice hardware store, very nice pantry, churches, a museum, and more!
Capt Mary outside the Lakefield Pantry and Happenstance Yarn and Bookstore.
Inside Lakefield Pantry – the smells were fantastic from bins of fresh / bulk spices, herbs, seeds, cereals, etc.
This is Lakefield Christ Church and Museum. The church was in disrepair, and not in use until about ten years ago when a local businessman provided the funds to renovate the building. It now has Sunday services on special days, weddings, and has its own history museum with a docent on hand. The renovated church is very well done, and was the highlight of our visit to Lakefield. We would recommend every cruiser stop here and take advantage of the folks and services in Lakefield. Did I mention that the Pantry is a Sears Catalogue pickup and drop-off location? (Go Crystal)