Having departed our last stop at Fenelon Falls, we continue east toward Lake Simcoe. Before reaching Simcoe, there are a few more locks to go through, including the impressive Kirkfield Lift Lock. This is the second lock of it’s type on the system as well as the second highest in the world, with the one at Peterborough being the highest. You can learn more about that one in the part two of this series. Right now, enjoy this video from one of our own passages through Kirkfield to see how it works;
Just beyond the village of Gamebridge, the Trent portion of the Trent Severn Waterway meets Lake Simcoe which is, by far, the largest body of water along the system. From this point, the Small Craft Route follows a north-east path towards the Atherley Narrows and Lake Couchiching, a trip of roughly 15 miles. Although many people traveling the waterway simply pass right through Simcoe, there is a great stopover location to check out on the way.
Lagoon City is situated just east of the small-craft route, approximately eight miles north of Gamebridge. This master planned community began with the creation of ten miles of canals and lagoons designed exclusively for all waterfront homes and condos. Also located here is Lagoon City Marina, a full service facility where transient boaters can tie up for a day, week or more. For those requiring service work or haul out, there is a 35 ton travel lift, on site mechanics and access to a complete selection of parts. They are also the first place offering mast stepping for sail boats coming off the waterway.
Jewel of The Trent
Just north of Lake Simcoe sits one of the most popular destinations in the area; the Port of Orillia, on Lake Couchiching. With 222 transient slips, Orillia continues to live up to its reputation of welcoming boaters from near and far. More than simply a spot to tie up, the Port hosts regular events throughout the season, including boat and cottage shows, waterfront festivals and the always enjoyable ‘Christmas in June’. During that weekend long event, boats are decorated to various themes with many participating in a nighttime ‘Parade of Lights’.
With its quaint, old downtown situated just steps off the docks, there are endless choices of things to do and see and probably one reason that many visitors try to arrange an extended visit here. The close proximity to major highways also makes it perfect for crew changes. It’s no wonder that Orillia is called ‘The Jewel of The Trent Severn Waterway’.
Exiting the top of Lake Couchiching, we enter the Severn section of the Trent Severn Waterway. Only three more locks lie ahead before reaching the final one at Port Severn and the end of the system.
The Severn River quickly transcends from rural countryside and gentle shorelines to a decidedly more rugged landscape, with dramatic Precambrian rock formations covered by spruce and pine trees contributing to the stunning scenery. Although this stretch can be traversed in a day, each of the locks offers its own special surroundings, so try to spend an afternoon or overnight at any or all of them.
Swift Rapids (Lock #43) doesn’t have any road access, so it is peaceful location offers pretty tie up options both at the top & bottom. It also features the highest lift of any of the conventional locks, with the deep lock chamber dwarfing any boats making the trip through.
Next along is the famous Big Chute Marine Railway. Although not a true ‘lock’ in the orthodox sense of the word, it instead carries vessels up and over the 60 foot change in elevation by way of a massive cradle set on railway tracks. It’s quite a show to watch the big machine partially submerge to allow boats to get on for the trip. Once secured by a series of adjustable straps and blocks, boats are then ‘portaged’ over land to reach the other side. This system is the only one of its kind in North America and can carry vessels up to 100 feet long!
Here’s a video I put together showing us passing through Swift Rapids lock, going over the Big Chute Marine Railway and heading on to Lock #45 at Port Severn – the final lock on the system;
End of The Line
The final stop on this journey is Lock #45, at Port Severn. Beyond the public docking alongside of the lock itself, Port Severn offers a number of tie-up options for boaters, most within sight of each other. Whatever your overnight destination is, you can walk to each of a number of restaurants, ranging from a simple burger to five star fare. If you need a break from the boat for a night or two, there are three establishments that offer rooms or suites where you can enjoy all the comforts of home, while keeping an eye on the boat!
No matter how long you spend venturing along the Trent Severn Waterway, or how many times you visit, there is sure to be a lifetime of wonderful memories. And a lifetime of longing to return to this special, historic gem.
I hope you will have a chance to read all four parts in this series to learn a bit more about the lovely Trent Severn Waterway.
Have look at the introduction to our ‘Cruising The Trent Severn Waterway’ video production. This 76 minute long feature is now available both as a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, or a convenient digital download. Feel free to visit our site at TheWaterway.ca for more information on the video, as well as the entire Trent Severn Waterway.