Trent-Severn Waterway

Dayana Moreno

Boaters in search of the perfect northern getaway must visit The Trent-Severn Waterway. The waterway is a Canadian canal system that was formerly used for commercial purposes but is now used exclusively for pleasure boats. Its main natural waterways include the Trent River, Otonabee River, the Kawartha Lakes, Lake Simcoe, Lake Couchiching and the Severn River. And while it's possible to journey the entire 386-kilometres from Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay in about a week, you'll likely want to take your time and enjoy everything The Trent-Severn Waterway has to offer.

Open for navigation from May until October, you can spend your days anchored in solitude, or you can visit one of the passing communities such as Trenton, Peterborough, Lindsay, Barrie and Orillia.

According to the, "The waterway consists of 44 locks, some 75 control dams, 15 swing bridges and 2 marine railways (at Big Chute). Two of the locks, at Peterborough and Kirkfield, are hydraulic-lift locks, which are unique in North America and among the highest in the world. Locks overcome a rise of 182m to the summit at Balsam Lake and then a drop of 80m to Lake Huron."

But don't spend too much time idling. Make sure to soak in all of the rich history that surrounds the area.

According to, the waterway passes through some archeologically noteworthy areas such as the Petroglyphs, Serpent Mounds, numerous conservation areas and First Nation communities.

The Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough is home to the world's largest collection of canoes and kayaks. According to, the "Dramatic new exhibits tell the story of Aboriginal, French and British cultures, taking you on a journey through a Mi'kmaq encampment, an original 1876 Se factories, cottaging and regattas."

And why not experience something truly unique. According to the highest point the waterway reaches is at Balsam Lake. This happens to be the highest point on Earth to which a vessel can be navigated from sea level.

For nature enthusiasts the waterway also showcases an abundance of preserved wildlife. “Some of the most valuable wetlands remaining in Ontario are found along the Trent River,” according to “Wetlands such as the vast Murray Marsh and Nappan Island marshes just above Healey Falls provide valuable habitat for waterfowl, fish and aquatic wildlife, and offer excellent opportunities for exploring by canoe.”

When you are ready for some water activities, try paddling the Kawarthas, kayaking in Burleigh Falls, take a leisurely paddle on one of the many lakes and rivers or try a more exhilarating experience with fast water and portages. Whatever activity best suits your interest, the Trent-Severn waterway is sure to have what you are looking for.

No boating trip is complete unless you have done a little fishing. According to, "The waters in an around the Trent Severn Waterway are rich in many species including pike, bass, walleye (pickerel), trout, salmon, perch, and crappie. Discover some of the smaller streams, ponds and bays that offer great fishing. A visit to the Harwood Fish Culture Station on Rice Lake gives visitors a fascinating look at sport fishing in the region. And, all visitors will delight in the sight of the salmon run up the Trent River in the early spring."

You can find fuel, supplies, showers, repairs, sewage pump-out, boat rentals and overnight mooring along the Trent-Severn marinas. You will also find many resorts, restaurants and shops on route, creating the perfect detours along your trip. All waterway lock stations offer drinking water and space for overnight tie-up. While some provide picnic tables and clean washrooms (some even offer space for the adventurous and outdoorsy boater to camp).

Today the Trent Severn Waterway has turned into an area rich in history, wildlife and scenery that attracts boaters and travelers from all areas.

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