May 22 • 05:32 AM

Cruising Ontario's canals and lakes

June 06, 2007
The Springtime Plus Cruise is not only the first cruise of the season for the Kawartha Voyageur, it was the first through the locks. They don't officially open until Victoria Day which was Monday, May 21, the day after we arrived home. We virtually had the canals and lakes all to ourselves. We locked through 31 locks.

In the introduction to our Personal Guide Book, "Rosedale to Kingston Quinte Plus Cruise on the Kawartha Voyageur," Captain Lloyd Ackert, company founder, states: "A cruise on the Kawartha Voyageur over Ontario's historic waterways confronts passengers daily with scenery from a storied past...the canoe route of Champlain, the military blockhouses of Colonel By, or the rice fields of the early Indians. Safe from modern jets and automobiles, the quiet waters still wind their way through the valleys providing a unique relaxing vacation" and how true. The foreword states, "The scenery along the system is a collage of farmland, marshland and forest teeming with birds, and splattered with the colors of wildflowers and ferns. From the bustling towns and villages along its shores to its tranquil bays and reaches, the Trent-Severn truly offers something for everyone."

The first European to experience this waterway was Samuel de Champlain, who paddled its length by canoe from Georgian Bay to the Bay of Quinte in 1615, as a guest of the Huron nations. In his diary, he noted that forests around the area were the finest of all his travels and described it as 'beaubocage' (beau=beautiful, bocage=hedged farmland). Two centuries later, the first white settlers arrived to hear the Mississauga Indians calling it 'Bobcajewonunk,' their version of the name Champlain had used. This word developed into meaning "narrow place between two rocks, where water rushes through."

The Bobcaygeon Lock was the first phase in construction of what later became known as the Trent Canal. On an afternoon in June of 1833, in the frontier town of Peterborough, Canada, six men sat at a table with a map of the Newcastle District and two sealed envelopes. They contained tenders for constructing a wooden lock at the shallow rapids where Sturgeon Lake drained into Pigeon Lake, called "Bobcajionunk" by the Indians, later called "Bobcaygeon" by the white men.

On July 25, 1836, a contract was signed for $8,000 for building the Bobcaygeon Lock. Contractors arrived on August 2nd and work on the Trent Canal's first lock began.

I think my favorite lock was our overnight stay at Healey Falls Lock 17. My notebook states, "We are UP high...beautiful setting...oriole singing, other unidentifiable sweet twitters." Maybe you can get the feeling of height by the snapshot that Lynda took. It makes me dizzy just looking at it. In the morning we would be on our way.

That evening we had a sing-along with Lou McCready from Swartz Creek at the piano. She was an administrator in the Swartz Creek School District before nephew Jim Bleau. Small world. She and her husband had been on one of my previous cruises. All were returnees except for five people. That tells you how popular they are.

Call 1-800-561-5767 if you are interested. You will probably talk to Joy.

— Country Cousin

Castle Creek
Milnes Ford
05 - 22 - 19
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