Traveling the Trent Severn-1



Wednesday morning we left Hastings on the Trent River we have 30 miles and one Lock 19 Scott Mills to go through until we reach Peterborough.  It’s a beautiful day with sunny skies and no wind a perfect day to cross Rice Lake.

The lake is 57 miles from Trenton and is the Trent system’s second largest body of water.  We’re glad it was a calm day as on windy days or during thunderstorms the lake can become very choppy due to its shallow depth.  The lake is fairly large at 20 miles long and 2.5 miles across.  However, it’s relatively shallow at about 12′ with a muddy bottom and was named for the wild rice which grew in it and harvested by native people.   Natives called it Pemadashdakota or “lake of the burning plains”.  It is dotted with islands, secluded coves, and resort marinas.  It is considered to be one of the top sport fishing lakes in Ontario.  Wish now I would have brought along a fishing pole.  There were a lot of weeds in one area and some attached to our props.  Kent put the boat in reverse and they all came off.

I took advantage of the nice warm calm day with washing the bugs off the boat.   We have a wash down system (Kent installed) on the front of the boat that allows me access to the lake water.  Kent always seems to take a picture of me working and not when I am dressed up.  He said when I am working is the only time he has access to the camera.

Once we crossed Rice Lake we’re now navigating on the Otonabee River which winds between thickly wooded banks with lots of homes and cottages along the way.   Otonabee comes from the words ode which means “heart” and odemgat that comes from “boiling water”.  It translates into ” the river that beats like a heart” in preference to the bubbling and boiling water of the rapids alone the river.  The Otonabee River flows from Katchewanooka Lake, at the north end of the Wakefield, through the city of Peterborough to Rice Lake.  It is in the Great Lakes Basin and forms part of the Trent Severn Waterway.  We navigated past Hiawatha Indian Reserve and Campbelltown a small community on the easter shore of the river.  Sections of the Otonabee River are very narrow with swift currents.

Our first and only Lock 19 Scotts Mills is one of the oldest locks in the system and the last remaining limestone lock.  The building of a lock at Whitlaws Rapids in 1843 (Scott’s Mills) eased the passage of boats on the Otonabee River, particularly during times of low water.   We’re all the way to the front of the lock so had to be very careful when leaving as the opening was narrower then the lock.


This is the abandoned CNR Railroad Swing Bridge and a popular swimming hole for kids.  There were several kids jumping off the bridge as we approached.

IMG_6437As we turned the corner to Peterborough we could see the 250 foot Centennial Fountain geyser straight ahead and Little River Marina.  The wind was very strong as we entered the dock.  They only had one dock hand to help us.  This was not good as the power box was to close to the edge of dock, and when we moved forward along the dock we caught the handle of the water valve.  This made a dreadful sound and long scratch on the side of the boat.  Kent and I were both sick when we got off the boat and saw it.  This was the first scratch we had on the side of the boat.  Needless to say Kent moved their electrical box in so it wouldn’t happen to the next boat.  With the Language Written on top of the box it had happened before. We will be docked at Peterborough for two days, they call it the heart of the town, and were greeted by Bruce & Bev from SeaQuest, Tranquillity III, Satori, and The Lower Place are also docked here.  Del Crary Park adjacent to the marina is the setting for Summer Festival of lights, concert, and fireworks events on Wednesday and Saturdays.  I guess we picked a good night to stay as its Wednesday night and will take advantage of the music.

The community of Peterborough have a long historic ties to the Trent-Severn waterway.  They grew and flourished on the banks of the Otonabee River which provided transportation, the mills were operated by water and eventually hydro-Electricity.   In the nineteenth century the river occupied an essential place in the history of the region and determined the location of the major community of the area Scott’s Plains, now Peterborough at the head of the navigable portion of the river.   For many years it was the chief channel for the passage of manufactured goods and agricultural produce to the south shore of Rice Lake.

Peterborough is known as the gateway to the Kawarthas “cottage country”, a large recreational region of the province.  It is named in honor of Peter Robinson, an early Canadian politician who oversaw the first major immigration to the area.  Peterborough’s nickname in the distance past was “The Electric City” as it was the first town in Canada to use electric streetlights.  Electricity was one of the reasons Quaker Oats moved to the city and as part of PepsiCo, remains a major fixture in the downtown area to this day.  Peterborough was incorporated as a town in 1850 and a city on Dominion Day in 1905.  The city’s flag and coat of arms were adopted later in 1951.

We had dinner on the patio at the Lighthouse and later listen to Jesse Cook World Music in Del Crary Park.   Jesse is a Canadian guitarist, composer, and producer of nuevo flamenco music, he incorporates elements of flamenco rumba, jazz and many forms of world music into his work.

On Thursday we walked to the Peterborough lift lock built between 1896 and 1904 in an era when the strength of men, horse, and steam power was shaping the transportation system of a growing nation.  Part of the reason that the lift lock was built was political.  At the time a federal election was taking place and in order to shore up local support the project was fast tracked with construction approved in 1896.  To establish the foundation 76,000 cubic yards of sand, soil and gravel were excavated until the linesman bedrock was reached 40 feet down.  The press wells for the hydraulic rams were excavated a further 75 feet into the rock.

In its day the lift lock was one of worlds largest concrete structures, with over 26,000 cubic yards of concrete without a single piece of reinforcing steel.  The installation of the steel chambers and hydraulic rams by the Dominion Bridge of Montreal began in 1901 and was officially opened to the public on July 9, 1904 and remains in full use today.  The Peterborough Hydraulic Lift Lock raises and lowers boats in two water filled chambers a distance of 65 feet.  The lock has two identical bathtub like ship caissons inclosed at each end by pivoting gates and are filled with water.  No external power is needed the lift lock functions by gravity alone using the counterweight principle.  The upper pan (caisson) is filled with and extra foot more of water than the lower pan.  One pan (caisson) always ascends and the other descends during each locking cycle.  This engineering marvel is the highest hydraulic lift lock of its kind in North America.  Designated a National Historic Site in 1979 it is an important asset in the area’s natural and cultural prosperity.  This was amazing to watch and we will be going through this lock tomorrow Friday.  It takes about two minutes to raise or lower depending on which side you are on.

On our walk to the lift lock (which they said was a mile turned out to be two miles one way) we stopped at Ashburhnam Ale House and waited for Johnny and Liz.  They called and said they were at the lock as we took the town road and they took the path, so we met them there.

This is the grounds surrounding the lift lock and the view from up on top all I can say is its amazing.  Wish me luck as I don’t like heights, this should be interesting tomorrow.  Hope you all had a great 4th of July.

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