What’s better than anything free on a hot summer day? Nothing!
For me, summer and the Ontario boating season officially begin when the Trent-Severn Waterway opens. This summer, Parks Canada is offering not one, but two free lockage days—on Sunday, June 24 and the annual free day on Canada Day (July 1). The Trent-Severn Waterway has been open since the Victoria Day weekend and will remain open daily until Thanksgiving weekend. The Monday to Thursday hours are 9 am to 5:30 pm and the Friday to Sunday hours are 9 am to 6:30 pm. Lockage fees are charged per foot of the boat and by the length of the transit, so having two free days can save boaters some money—more to put toward the gas tank!
If you’re unfamiliar with the Trent-Severn Waterway, it is a canal system that has evolved since 1833 when it was built as a military shortcut across central Ontario. The waterway starts in Trenton at lock #1 and ends in Port Severn at lock #45—connecting Lake Ontario to Georgian Bay and Lake Huron. It joins natural waterways including the Trent River, Otonabee River, the Kawartha Lakes, Lake Simcoe, Lake Couchiching, and the Severn River. The 386-km recreational route and tourist attraction is a big draw for boaters from everywhere, as it offers a scenic and winding route that can take a couple of weeks to complete start to finish.
The Trent-Severn is most notably known for The Big Chute Marine Railway at lock #44, an impressive boat lift that removes the boats from the water and carries them in individual cradles across about 60 feet from the Severn River into Georgian Bay. It’s the only marine railway of its kind in North America.
This year, I’ve already had the opportunity to boat from Lake Simcoe through the Lake Couchiching lock #42 and the Swift Rapids lock #43 into the Severn River, where our cottage is.
In my opinion, the section between Hydro Glen and Sparrow Lake is one of the most picturesque with the narrow waterway and crown land views, but there’s no shortage of beautiful sights along what Parks Canada calls “one of the finest interconnected systems of navigation in the world”—so I’ll be out exploring more of it this summer. See you on the water!