Tag Archives: attractions

Discovering The Trent Severn Waterway, Part Four – Simcoe to Severn

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.

First Stop

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.

Lagoon City Marina

Some of the 277 boat slips at Lagoon City Marina.

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’.

Port of Orillia

Overlooking the docks at the Port of Orillia

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’.

Rugged Beauty

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.

Severn River

Cruising down the rugged Severn River on a beautiful summer day.

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!

Big Chute Marine Railway

Loading up a boat on the Big Chute Marine Railway.

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.

Up Next?

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.

Please remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for daily posts, photos and videos, as well as hundreds of original videos on my YouTube Channel. We look forward to seeing you there

Discovering The Trent Severn Waterway, Part Three – The Kawarthas

Land of Shining Waters

Heading north from Peterborough along the canals of the Trent Severn Waterway, one enters into The Kawartha region. Derived from the First Nations Peoples language, the name ‘Kawartha’ translates to ‘Land of Shining Waters’. This is hardly surprising, as there are more than 50 lakes, rivers and waterways offering virtually endless enjoyment, both on and off your boat

Land of Shining Waters

Kawarthas – ‘Land of Shining Waters’, and it shows here, in Bobcaygeon.

Traveling through the tranquil waters of Katchewanooka Lake, through Clear and Stony Lakes and on to Buckhorn, Pigeon and Cameron Lakes, one will pass by numerous small towns, and villages, but take the time to stop in to as many as your schedule allows. Each has their own charm, with most offering all the services a traveling boater might need.

Starting at Lakefield, the municipally run Lakefield Marina (which was completely rebuilt in 2005) is situated alongside the waterway and conveniently located just steps from town. The marina also offers showers, fresh water fill up, a pump out service, as well as free Wi-Fi. If you like fishing, test your skills by dropping a hook into the clear, quick flowing water of the canal. You’ll be able to see the fish as they dance about the rocks and your lure.

Here’s a look at a gorgeous sunset from Lakefield Marina;

Not far beyond Lakefield is the community of Young’s Point. Although quite small, this village will keep you around for a few days, with lots to see and do. Besides the immaculately maintained lock (#27), there are two marinas to tie up to. One of them, Islandview Resort, has a waterfront restaurant with patio. Enjoy a quick bite, cool drink or full course dinner while watching the passing boats come and go. And while stopped at Young’s Point, be sure to drop in to historic Lockside Trading Company to glimpse their eclectic and diverse products ranging from clothing and home décor, right up to furniture.

Have a look at Islandview Resort in this video I filmed there;

One of the busiest spots on the system is at the village of Buckhorn (Lock # 31). This is in part due to the fact that, despite the town’s small size, there are a number of restaurants and pubs located close to the water’s edge.  Regular visitors rave about the Chinese food at Cody’s Inn, located in what was once a luxury fishing lodge.

Farther north, Bobcaygeon and Fenelon Falls are two small towns with big history. The original lock at Bobcaygeon (Lock #32) was the very first to be constructed on the system, way back in 1834. This feature became the focus of transportation for the town and many businesses grew up around it. Fast forward to today, and there remains a multitude of shops, restaurants and services within sight of the lock and canal. Transient boaters can tie up along the newly expanded canal wall for the day, or overnight. There is a full service marina, Gordon Yacht Harbour, just before the lock, which also offers transient dockage.

I captured some beautiful shots at the top side of Bobcaygeon lock, which I’ve shared in this video;

The town of Fenelon Falls was built around an old mill that was powered by the water cascading over the falls down into the Fenelon River.  The mill has long since been replaced by a small hydroelectric generating station, but the picturesque falls remain. Tie up at the bottom of the lock (#32) and enjoy the natural beauty of the falls and the cliffs of the Fenelon River. Move through the lock to the top side to discover a livelier scene where you can step off the boat and into one of the many restaurants and shops of this tourist town. Grab an ice cream and head over to the local museum, wander through downtown or go for a stroll along the waterfront walking trails.

Have your camera ready, as this location overlooking Cameron Lake offers some of the prettiest sunsets on the waterway. Have a look for yourself by watching this video;

Up Next?
In the next issue, we will conclude this series with a look at the Simcoe to Severn Regions.

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.

Please remember to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for daily posts, photos and videos, as well as hundreds of original videos on my YouTube Channel. We look forward to seeing you there!

Fort Lauderdale – Florida’s Best Beach?

I can still recall the very first time I set foot on the soft sand beach of Fort Lauderdale. Two things came immediately to mind; first was how soft the sand was, second was how warm it felt on my feet. That last part may sound like a given, after all, this is south Florida. The reason that the warmth struck me was the fact that this was January. January = Winter. Not exactly the warm and squishy feeling I had equated with that time of the year.

Fort Lauderdale Beach sign

The sign that you have made it :-)

Game Changer

Coming from southern Ontario, our winters are mostly, well, crap. Cold, snow and cloudy are the words that come to mind to describe that time of year in the Great White North. Lauderdale, on the other hand, enjoys an average of 246 days of sunshine a year.

Average winter temps? A warm and welcome 77 degrees. Average snowfall? Zero. Yup, right from that first day, I was hooked.

As you can imagine, it didn’t take much to settle into this new way of looking at that time of year and my beach experience had an immediate and far reaching influence. Since our first experience, we have returned to Lauderdale many times, with our most recent stay taking up the entire month of January! Once despising winter, I can now say bring it on!

Walking on Fort Lauderdale Beach

Walking along the miles of uninterrupted beach on a hot & sunny day.

Walk With Me

One or favorite things to do when we are on holidays is to walk. Exploring an area and seeking out new mini adventures are always a treat for us. With seven miles of uninterrupted beach and shoreline to enjoy, this place fits our style perfectly.

Apart from ‘just walking’ the beach, there are a multitude of places to drop in to while out and about. As mentioned, it can get quite warm – scratch that, HOT – throughout the day, but apart from diving in for a swim, there are many places to stop in and duck out of the heat. The main beach strip runs right alongside the ocean on the infamous A1A. Also known as Ocean Boulevard, this road is lined with hotels, restaurants, bars and tourist traps that help cool you down, quench your thirst, or lighten your wallet ;-)

beach rinsing station

When stepping off the beach, there rinsing stations like this are all along A1A.

After Hurricane Sandy rolled through here in 2012, the preexisting seawall was extended north, past Sunrise Boulevard. This barrier had been put in place to protect the road and oceanfront buildings from storm surges that often accompany a hurricane. As you can see in the following photo, this structure is not some monolithic looking concrete eyesore, but rather, an aesthetically pleasing part of the landscape. Designed to blend in with it’s surroundings, it is formed in a curving pattern to mimic the waves on the ocean.

With dozens of strategically located openings in the seawall, many of these pedestrian access points offer rinse off showers, as well as feet sprays to clear off that heavenly beach sand.

A1A and the beach

Looking south along A1A and the beach.

Warm & Easy Feeling

With average sea temperatures ranging between 84 – 88 degrees in the summer and 72 – 77 degrees in the winter, one can always expect nice conditions for swimming. The Gulf Stream runs northward, just off the coast to continually brings warm water with it. This is one more reason that Fort Lauderdale enjoys warm air temps throughout the winter. In all of our visits, I can recall having to wear something more than just a light tee shirt only three or four times.

If you are not the swimming type, the view of the blue/green water will be enough to warm you up. It also makes a nice backdrop while enjoying a late afternoon aperitif on the balcony :-)

Atlantic Ocean and the beach

The gorgeous blue/green waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Florida’s Best Beach?

So, can I categorically state that this is Florida’s best beach? Probably not. But, after having visiting a number of beaches on the east coast, Gulf side and even the Keys, I can definitely say that this is our favorite. With warm temperatures that can be counted on throughout the winter, a large and long area to walk and dozens of great places to see along the way, this place is number one with us. And precisely why we look forward to returning to with eager anticipation each year.

morning on Fort Lauderdale Beach

Good morning from Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Keep an eye out here on the Blog for more upcoming reviews of the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. There’s so many things to see and do in this town and I’m looking forward to sharing ’em all with you.